Who Will Win the Champions League? – Follow the Money.

Win the Champions League
The Champions League trophy is displayed prior to the draw for the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League football tournament at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon on December 11, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Fabrice COFFRINI (Photo credit should read FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

Who will win the Champions League? Just follow the money. As a pattern has been entrenched into the UEFA Champions League. Once we reach the knockout rounds and especially the latter stages few teams from outside of the ‘big five’ leagues are usually in with a chance. Clubs from Spain, Italy, Germany, France and England dominate and have done for many years. Indeed Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, in 2005, are the last team from outside these major leagues to have reached the semi-finals. 

Want to win the Champions League? Show me the money

Format favours the big teams

Once the format changed from a solely knockout tournament to one involving groups and hence more games the bigger, richer and more resourceful sides could monopolise the competition. That combined with the relative decline of clubs from the Netherlands and Portugal meant the main focus was on which rich team would win each year.

And to help with that analysis you just need to refer to the Deloitte Football Money League. Their latest table of the twenty richest football clubs in the world contains no club from outside those top five leagues. Not only that but it is very likely one from the upper echelons will win the Champions League.

Winner takes all

Assuming they continue to attract the top talent, as they no doubt will, that pattern will not be broken. And, in fact, it might get even more predictable. As in the globalised world of internet technology, certain large organisations dominate so do certain football teams. Network effects, money and the magnetism of winners is all pervading. Now add feeder clubs into the mix. Witness the situation in the top leagues in Germany, France, Spain and England this season. And see how they already have clear champions-elect.

Can anybody do a ‘Leicester’?

The chances of Porto, then coached by Jose Mourinho, repeating their win of 2004 are now vanishingly small. But perhaps Shakhtar Donetsk or Besiktas can do a ‘Leicester City’ this season? Most would say it’s very unlikely – just look at the Money League.

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