From the ed­i­tor

World Soccer - - Contents -

Since Porto won in 2004, nine of the 14 Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nals have been won by Real Madrid or Barcelona

An­other sea­son of Euro­pean club foot­ball and the dis­tor­tion of the game by money is stronger than ever. While oil-rich Azer­bai­jan hosts the 2019 Europa League Fi­nal, it is hard to en­vis­age a club from out­side of the big five leagues cel­e­brat­ing a Cham­pi­ons League vic­tory in Madrid’s Metropoli­tano sta­dium on June 1 next year. A hand­ful of elite clubs now dom­i­nate the Euro­pean club land­scape to such an ex­tent that if a new name is to be added to the pan­theon of win­ners, it is likely to be that of Paris Saint-Ger­main or Manch­ester City.

Since Porto won in 2004, nine of the 14 sub­se­quent Cham­pi­ons League Fi­nals have been won by Real Madrid or Barcelona.

This sea­son, changes to the qual­i­fy­ing for­mat mean only 15 dif­fer­ent coun­tries are rep­re­sented among the 32 group-stage teams, com­pared to 17 in each of the pre­vi­ous three sea­sons. Clubs from Eng­land, France, Ger­many, Italy and Spain did not have to en­dure the in­con­ve­nience of go­ing through the qual­i­fy­ing rounds. But their dom­i­nance of the Cham­pi­ons League raises ex­pec­ta­tions that the Europa League might pro­vide a stronger com­pe­ti­tion this year.

We live in hope. Gavin Hamil­ton, Ed­i­tor

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