Has the prospect of a Champions League Final of Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid set the football world alight?
Not exactly. Why is that?
Atletico seek the start of a new age in Milan.
Well, despite a city derby being something to relish on paper (2014’s was the first in the history of the European Cup) the pair’s rendezvous in Lisbon then proved to be such a long, drawn-out affair it has not left the continent chomping at the bit for another round.
Atletico were leading in injury time that sweaty night before Real’s last-gasp equalizer led to a white goal rush, but had they seen out the clock their victory would have been as dull as many a 1-0 in the history of the competition.
Derbies are usually hectic affairs but the huge stakes of the Champions League trophy means the final will probably be a cagey affair once more.
Atletico have never won the top prize so will not be going for broke while Real have too much experience to gamble. One point separates them in the league; they are too close to separate.
There is also the fact Spanish football is so dominant – four of the last seven Champions League finals and seven of the last twelve Europa League finals have been won by La Liga clubs, while three out of the four finalists in this season’s Qiu Qiu Online Pkv competitions are Spanish, that another all Spanish final has no novelty factor.
If Manchester City had not been so overawed by the Bernabeu on Wednesday, then their first visit to the final tie would have engendered much expectation, even if they probably would have capitulated through a lack of experience on the night.
Wolfsburg was the wildest of wildcard entries in the last eight but also froze like a deer in the Real Madrid headlights, despite holding a 2-0 first-leg lead. In that context, City’s loss does not look so bad.
Paris Saint Germain were the most exciting presence in the knock-out stages, and a win for them would have come as a welcome reassurance that French club football can compete again for the top prizes and that there exists another European centre of excellence. But it was not to be.
Based on the semi-finals, Bayern Munich were the best side still in the competition but rotten luck conspired against them in their away goals loss to Atletico and Pep Guardiola’s German chapter concluded without Champions League success.
Real are little to get excited about for neutrals because they are super-rich and super familiar, reinforcing their ranks each year or two with mutli-million dollar galacticos.
Only the deepest pockets can compete with their empire, which has turned the Champions League into a footballing arms race of financial frippery (the sport is a notorious bonfire of serious investments), where the most profligate spenders are currently the Arabs and the Chinese, with some Americans breathing down their necks.
Real have an extraordinary following across Spain and profit from the stentorian support of the nation’s biggest dailies AS and Marca as well as the television stations, banks and even the Royal Family.
So the Whites are as establishment as it gets and seeing them in the final is a regular occurrence.
And then there is the absence of Barcelona.