Talking Soccer: Why you should care about the Champions League

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FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, center, plays with the ball with his teammates during a training session in Decines, near Lyon, central France, Monday, Feb. 18, 2019. FC Barcelona will face Lyon in a Champions League round of 16 soccer match on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

The Champions League is annually one of the best tournaments in all of sports, pitting the best soccer teams across all of Europe against one another to see who is worthy to be crowned the European Champions and, arguably, the best in the world. Despite the fact that Real Madrid has won three straight and four of the last five years, this season the tournament seems more wide open than ever. So why should you care? I’ll give you three reasons.

The Best of the Best

The Champions League is exclusive to a handful of teams from each major European soccer league, so you’re getting elite competition all around. Most squads are loaded with world class talent eager to flex their muscle on an international stage.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are household names in the soccer world, but guys like Kylian Mbappe, Paulo Dybala and Antoine Griezmann are all must-watch players who deserve your attention.

The group stage match-ups are randomly drawn, so there’s always a good chance a few European giants are gonna get matched up for a home and home, which are always entertaining games. But the real fun comes in the knockout stages when the best teams really shine.

Last week, Paris Saint-Germain dominated Manchester United. On Tuesday, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are matched up, and Wednesday Atletico Madrid play Juventus. All of these teams, except United, are capable of winning the Champions League, so they absolutely are must-watch games if you are a soccer fan.

Scheduling

Because of the six-hour time difference, Champions League matches usually take place in the early afternoon on the East Coast, which I absolutely love. Mid-day soccer is a great way to pass the time if you’re bored in class or just in an afternoon slump. Tuesdays and Wednesdays suck for the most part, and a couple of CL games can help those days go by a little bit faster.

Gambling

It’s pretty clear from the get-go who the haves and have nots are in the Champions League, and, especially in the group stage, the favorites routinely dominate. Even now in the round of 16, the disparity of talent is still noticeable in some matchups, so games are still fairly easy to predict. Even if you’re not that big of a soccer fan, who doesn’t like making some extra money?

There are some great matchups this week and still the second half of the round of 16 to come. The fun is just getting started!


Neil Simmons is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at neil.simmons@uconn.edu.

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