5 Reasons a Champions League Final Trumps a World Cup Final
The World Cup final is the biggest and most important match in world football. But for some, the UEFA Champions League final is better.
Let's be clear, though: The World Cup final is great. National pride and sporting immortality are on the line, billions around the world watch on TV and the game only comes around once every four years.
But the Champions League final, which happens every year (this year's contest is set for Saturday in Munich), has plenty going for it as well.
Here are five ways the Champions League final trumps the World Cup final.
Wesley Sneijder thinks so.
Sir Alex Ferguson thinks so.
Fans think so, too.
The quality Champions League football is better than World Cup football. It just is.
World Cup matches tend to be dull (with exceptions of course), with under-pressure managers and players often opting not to risk too much lest they find themselves eliminated prematurely.
The Champions League, with its six-match opening group stage, allows teams to play expansive football. Pressure rises in the knockout stage, but with the two-legged format, teams know they can overcome a mistake or two.
The result is usually a much more exciting style of play.
Only a select few nations have ever won a World Cup. Over the years, the favorites have generally fared very well, often winning it all.
In the Champions League (and the old European Cup), the winners are sometimes less fancied clubs.
Think of champions Borussia Dortmund in 1997 or Marseille in 1993.
Who would you consider the least likely World Cup champion? Is there even one example?
Under the current format, World Cup-winning teams play seven matches in about a month.
In the Champions League, the finalists play six group matches and six more in the knockout stage before the final. That's a total of 13 matches spanning September through May.
This season, Bayern Munich advanced to the group stage via a two-legged playoff victory over FC Zurich way back in August. That means the Bavarians' Champions League campaign has lasted 15 matches over a grueling nine months.
Such an epic campaign means the fans must be more invested.
Remember the Dream Team?
When Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and the rest of Team USA conquered Olympic basketball in 1992, the world had never seen anything like it.
Well, actually, that's not true.
Champions League teams are dream teams in their own way. They're not competing for Olympic gold and they're not all from the same country. Instead, these teams feature the best of the best from countries all over the world.
Let's Stay Together
Unlike the Dream Team or any World Cup finalists, Champions League squads have played together for long periods of time—some more than others.
World Cup teams, even those that reach the final, often look disjointed because the players are unaccustomed to each other.
In the Champions League final, the players have been together for at least a full season, sometimes longer.
In Chelsea's case, core players like John Terry, Didier Drogba and Frank Lampard have been teammates for the better part of a decade.
That makes for better, more cohesive football, and it allows fans to follow players for longer amounts of time.