Are the later stages of the Champions League vaguely interesting?


This was inspired by a few comments on twitter during Tuesday evening.

The first speculated that the Champions League was becoming so predictable that it had become a case of fighting for the 4th Semi-Final spot left vacant, after Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich had taken theirs.

The second was in response to the two hammerings which were taking place that evening. The Quarter Finals of the top competition in the world and the ties were not even close as contests. As a result, the person commenting asked if the Champions League would eventually “eat itself”?

So as a matter of interest, I decided to have a look at the semi-finalists for the last few seasons and see if this trend was true. Here goes………


Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Inter Milan and Lyon


Real Madrid, Barcelona, Schalke and the Mancs


Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Chavski


Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund


Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Chavski.

(Barcelona went out in the quarters to Atletico)


Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the Semis at a canter.

Atletico could stop Real Madrid getting there with a couple of away goals and as for Juve v Monaco, we all know what’s wrong with that tie, don’t we, Micky?

What do you think? Is this exactly how you would like it because you get to see the top players at the climax of the competition each year? Or does it make you seethe that a team like Nottingham Forest or Villa could ever win the trophy (albeit, in a completely different competition and totally different footballing era)?


Worst of all, are The Arsenal fighting for that 4th Semi-Final spot each year from now on?

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68 Responses to Are the later stages of the Champions League vaguely interesting?

  1. Rasp says:

    Thanks chas. There is no point in seething I suppose because the money related polarisation has also changed the EPL and made it equally predictable.

    The Italian teams seem to be falling behind but Real, Barca and Bayern have been at the top for a decade or more (Real for ever) so I guess it is the natural order of things that Arsenal should be vying for the elusive 4th spot.

    But we should remember that Porto won not so long ago and a poor chelski side somehow managed to waz it. Both Dortmund and Athletico have produced sides on a low budget that have also come close – so there is hope 🙂

  2. GunnerN5 says:

    Morning all,

    Chas, the CL is really no different than any other football league in the world, the cream always rises to the top and to get the best cream costs a lot of money. The monied clubs rule the sport and it’s my belief that it has improved the game to an immeasurable degree.

    We have been very fortunate to have Arsene as our manager as he, single hand-idly and against all odds and opinions, has given us the pleasure of seeing Arsenal play against the cream of European football for 18, soon to be 19, consecutive seasons.

    I haven’t checked this out yet but I cannot bring to mind any other manager who has been in more consecutive CL Championship’s the our Arsene.

  3. Rasp says:

    …. and to answer the question, last night’s games were a complete bore due to being over half way through the first half. I’m hoping Athletico will stuff Real and make tonight’s games more interesting.

  4. Chas, from yesterday’s post, If he can prove his fitness Diaby may be given a pay as you play contract. If he can’t prove his fitness he will be allowed to use the club’s facilities to help regain fitness.

  5. mickydidit89 says:

    Bloody love it, Chas. Thanks.

    Wish we were fighting for a semi not a quarter final place 😦

    I guess we have to face the reality and approach this competition in the same was as a minnow (say Totnum) does each year in the domestic comps. I really can’t stand that “what’s the point in entering if you aren’t going to win it” atty, as it’s all about playing the best and wangling a well earned mini-break in some exotic foreign City 🙂

  6. mickydidit89 says:

    Funnily enough, I do approach draw days for the cl probably in the same way Yeovil Town do in the FA Cup. Hope for a glamour away day 🙂

    This years’ competition was such an unmitigated disaster for us (well, me), not so much because we didn’t win the bleeding thing, but rather we drew such utter dross opposition.

  7. mickydidit89 says:

    ps Chas. Seething hurts doesn’t it 🙂

  8. Sad isn’t it Micky? “we drew such utter dross opposition” but still couldn’t progress any further.

  9. PV4 says:

    Last night’s fiasco was just the blueprinted recipe of desire of Platini et al. Were Porto really that bad, or were they rewarded handsomely in another way? Every fan knows that a Barca v Real final is what has always been dreamed of. If not, Bayern must figure somewhere. The only crumb of comfort from the Porto debacle is the thought of Maureen wincing at a former love!

    As for Villa, Forest etc winning the European Cup, I say good for them, because I’ll bet every one of their fans would swap with us in a heartbeat for all of the unbroken seasons at the top table. Besides, football is a completely different money-driven animal these days. Just look at our league, La Liga, Ligue 1, Bundesliga and you will see that money has mainly pre-ordained finishing places for a while now.

    I would rather fight for the fourth spot than no spot at all.

  10. RA says:

    That is a hell of a good Post, Chas.

    I may have said this before but it bears repeating.

    There cannot be anyone who is unable to recognise that the key ingredient to winning trophies, as GN5 mentions above, is to have plenty of money to buy players.

    A deadbeat Chelsea on the verge of bankruptcy, was sold to Abramovich who quickly spent over a billion pounds sterling on acquiring the best available players then available, and continued to do so as the Chavs suddenly became trophy gobblers — even the milkman could manage players like that. You listening Maureen?

    And then, the guys from Abu Dhabi came along and spent over a £billion and lo and behold they started to win and make Chelsea wait their turn.

    In the background, the wealthiest club in the world, Manure, by many analysts estimates, have continued the spending spree on players that they started with the then record £30m purchase of Rio Ferdinand and the many others over the years including Rooney.

    So, the top three places in the Premiership, with the odd incursion latterly by ‘Pool, has fallen to the biggest spenders, mentioned above.

    That meant that Arsenal, each year, have had to fight with Liverpool, Spuds, Everton and Uncle Tom Cobley, for the much derided 4th place to qualify for the CL. And 17 consecutive years later that has become the least some ungrateful fans would accept – bitterly.

    In other leagues like Germany, Spain and France, the big spenders have performed true to form – or wealth – and Bob’s your uncle have occupied the final stages of the CL. There’s a surprise.

    UEFA have seen your schedule, Chas, and from next year are shaking up the qualifying co-efficients, so that the winners of other leagues will go into Pot 1 with the winners of the previous season’s CL Final, and clubs like Arsenal will go into Pot 2 or 3 etc. Do these eejits really think this will change the likely last 8 in the CL and allow the ‘lower’ i.e. less wealthy clubs to win the trophy? [That question is rhetorical.]

    To be candid, for all the hoo ha we hear about the importance of qualifying for the CL, my main interest in it is that Arsenal will get a share of the CL loot, so that we can get back to winning the Premier League — with the CL success a nice to have — well very nice, but incidental. 🙂

  11. RA says:

    I had to stop my earlier comment before it became long, because the issues raised led to certain other ramifications, not least that the solution to levelling the financial playing field is not FFP, as in practice this has had the opposite effect to what was presumably intended.

    Let’s face it — UEFA and FIFA do not require clever dicky people who could solve the dilemma, but in doing so might challenge Platipus and Bladder’s idiocy. Stupid Rules, Doh.K? 🙂

  12. RC78 says:

    yes – we re fighting for that 4th spot

  13. RC78 says:

    You need match winners at every position and we do not so far…

    Our GK is not a Top 4 in Europe
    None of our defenders are Top 8
    None of our midfieders are Top 8
    1 (Sanchez) of our attacking player is Top 8

    You look at Barça, Real and Bayern – they have at least 1 in each line…

    Barca – Pique, Alba, Mascherano, Busquets, Iniesta, Suarez, Messi, Neymar

    Real – Ramos, Modric, Ronaldo
    Bayern – Neueur, Lahm, Alaba, Alonso, Robben, Lewandowski

    so there you go…I think Chelsea, Atletico and on paper Man U and City are closer to them than we are…

  14. RC78 says:

    Now if we added 1 game-winner per line, we would be there…

    In fantasy world if you could add:

    Courtois – Ramos – Busquets – Messi to our squad we would like that:

    Courtois – Bellerin, Ramos, Kos, Gibbs – Ox, Busquets, Ramsey – Sanchez, Giroud (or Ozil), Messi

    All of a sudden, you see that we can compete a bit better…and that the current players except Sanchez look a bit of place in a team with just these 4 players…

  15. chas says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    I enjoyed bodging together a photo of Arsène holding the CL trophy. 🙂

    It’s difficult to believe that we had 3 English clubs in the Semis for all of the three seasons before the ones in the post.
    Back then, I suppose some dick in Spain or Germany was writing a similar post asking about playing for the 4th Semi-Final spot after the English teams had taken theirs. 🙂

    RA’s comment from the end of yesterday’s post about Bayern playing so poorly in their 1st leg and yet being able to win so easily over two legs explains why we don’t get the equivalent of Bradford thrashing the chavs in the FA Cup in the Champion League.
    A one-off game can have any result. Over 2 games the best team usually wins (unless it involves Arsenal, of course).

  16. chas says:

  17. chas says:

  18. Big Raddy says:

    My hope is that things change.

    It is inevitable that the clubs representing the International World Cup Champions will be the best in the CL (Germany and Spain). Until England can improve Internationally we are pretty much doomed to scramble for the 4 SF spot.

    That said, we have hardly any English players in our top 4 teams, so that makes a nonsense of my theory 😀

  19. RA says:


    How fascinating that you put up an answer that is………. and having realised it you apologise and instead of deleting the comment – you pressed the ‘submit’ button.

    Now that is very much the way of the ex-hippy! 🙂

  20. chas says:

    Xavi of Barcelona

    ‘You are a nation of warriors,’ he says. ‘If I go to Liverpool’s ground and someone puts the ball into the area and Carragher hammers it out of play then the fans applaud. In the Nou Camp you would never be applauded for that.
    ‘It’s a different culture that values different things. Here if they see you are afraid when you are in possession then you get whistled. It’s the world in reverse.

  21. chas says:

  22. RA says:

    I asked for directions near the Manchester Ship Canal, and three teenagers tried to help, but as they were all laughing and speaking at the same time I could not understand.

    Eventually one of them said “You are about a mile from [your destination] and the best way is to walk along the berm.”

    Along the berm? said I, with a grin – “Yes, walk along the berm – it will get you where you want to go”.

    My amused but baffled chuckle must have triggered them off, and with the clash of accents, they fell about in stitches, and they thought I was winding them up, as much as I thought they were winding me up – a la Inspector Clusoe.

    it seems that a ‘berm’ is not the Peter Sellars’ French pronunciation of ‘bomb’ but the word for a pathway along the canal — I think! 🙂

    I did not know that – if only Norfolk had been there he would have known – clearly a no-brainer. 🙂

  23. chas says:

    Thanks for that RA. You reminded me of the Ray Parlour ‘berm’ story, so I went to look for it and found these instead. 🙂

  24. RA says:

    Thanx, Chas,

    Old ray has a gift as a raconteur, and altho his accent sometimes throws me – he is really funny.

    I am still laughing at the ‘missing’ slice of apple pie!

    Inspector Clusoe indeed. 😀

  25. Gööner In Exile says:

    Morning all, i do hanker after the era of football where a good coach who assembled the right squad could put a team together capable of challenging domestically and in Europe but unfortunately we will never see those times again. The landscape has shifted to be about money, but maybe more than that it was about the Bosman ruling, that put the strength in the hands of the player.

  26. mickydidit89 says:

    Morning all. Another stunner, and our last 😦

    Love Raddy’s theory and dis-theory at 5:59

  27. mickydidit89 says:

    Feast Everyone, Feast for St George and England
    Up Richard The Lionheart
    Death to Dragons. Death to Slayers of Christians and Death to Foreigners.

    Ooops. Ok, maybe less crusading and stuff, but definately death to dragons

  28. mickydidit89 says:

    Gunnersaurus may well be witty, amusing and sensational in bed, but I’d hide today if I was green, had a tail and breathed flames

  29. Big Raddy says:

    Morning All,

    The link chas put up yesterday to the Guardian Wenger article is well worth following. A mighty good read.

  30. Big Raddy says:

    Morning Didit,

    what’s all this about our last morning?

    If things are so bad call The Samaritans. They may not be the solution but are well-meaning (I was one for 8 years)

  31. mickydidit89 says:

    Last morning of wall to wall sunshine, but probably still worth making the call 🙂

  32. Big Raddy says:

    And what have dragons ever done to you?

  33. Big Raddy says:

    Same here (weather) but warm and wet is much better than cold and wet 😎

  34. mickydidit89 says:

    I’m being sensitive, Raddy, the slippery green fellows are a soft target, that’s all.

  35. mickydidit89 says:

    Ok. Today I work very hard.
    Then surf 🙂

  36. Big Raddy says:

    My day: Work hard, lunch. Go to public tax office to sort out my tax

    Summer guiding season starts soon. Deep joy.

  37. chas says:

  38. Big Raddy says:

    Watched the second half of the Madrid game last night. By the end I found myself swearing at the television thanks to the cheating antics of RM.

    Why when you have so much talent that you are one of the world’s best footballers do you think “I will feign injury and get my fellow professional booked and then sent off”? These swine are meant to be sportsmen!
    Hard to say this but Ronaldo is one of the few who doesn’t dive and despite his “look at the great Me” attitude is a wonderful footballer

    Despicable bunch of egomaniac actors. From now on it is “any team but RM”.

  39. Big Raddy says:

    Ah, the Summer of Love ….. sigh. Happy Days

  40. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning all.
    Happy St Georges day, although not many will mention it.
    Good post Chas.

    Champions League is all about the money, thats why it was started in the first place. We as a club have benefited from the qualification, without Champions league i don’t believe we would be where we are now.

    Granted we have never won it, and after 17 years i doubt we ever will. Our times in the finals and semis has usually been decided by controversial decisions, so i believe the draws and results are fixed.

    Many will say that what i am saying is sour grapes, but even so we are not destined to win it. Barcelona are the champions of CL most seasons they have an unbelievable record in this competition now the Germans are also showing, we had the token Chelsea year but all in all not a competition for the English.

    Once all the English contingent is out of the comp, i believe the interest in the competition is finished. In all fairness we have never had much chance in this competition as the opposition are a lot better than us.

    Being true to myself we have gone years without winning our own league, so to actually believe that you can beat the best in Europe is always out of reach. We have gone years and years of struggling to beat the top teams in our own league our record against them is very poor unless you have a good memory so CL is almost impossible.

    Arsenal football club are just in the throws of building, many believe we are a season away from winning our own league, but realisticly we are as far away from winning it as we have been for years, While clubs like Chelsea and City and even United can go out and spend millions on the best players in the world, we will always be playing catchup.

    Looking at our side at the moment, tells us that the players we have are playing pretty good football, when we play against the lesser sides in the division we can look very good indeed, but our record against the top clubs is pretty pathetic.

    Those clubs that beat us on a regular basis, when faced with Barcelona or Real or the German teams they also get spanked so that explains why we will always fall short. Monaco, not a great team in the world of top football, beat us quite convincingly when we was at home, we fought back well away but still lost, we were just not good enough.

    While top teams can pick the best players we have, and take them away from us, we will always be losers. I hate to say that but it is true whether we like it or not. We are an English top 4 side which may win us a domestic cup but European victory is still pie in the sky.

    In case i never mentioned it, Happy St Georges day.

  41. Big Raddy says:

    Morning Steve,

    It is my sincere belief that Arsenal will win the title next season.

    As a missing friend says, “The Ghosts of the 30’s are stirring”

  42. stevepalmer1 says:

    Morning Raddy, Hope your right mate, but i can’t see it.

  43. chas says:

    Absolutely love this…….
    “In all fairness we have never had much chance in this competition as the opposition are a lot better than us.”

    Who needs football analysis when you can sum it all up so succinctly? 🙂

  44. chas says:

    Can you tell us about your insincere beliefs? 🙂

  45. chas says:

  46. chas says:

  47. Big Raddy says:

    chas. Where to start? Religion? Politics? Relationships? I have many beliefs which under scrutiny would not pass muster.

    Or do you think “sincere beliefs” is tautology?

  48. Big Raddy says:

    8.32 Brilliant pic.

  49. Rasp says:

    Morning all, Raddy has mentioned our missing friend TMHT. He is sorely missed, does anyone know why we haven’t heard from him for a while?

  50. Rasp says:

    Presumably Cockie knows of his whereabouts but he’s not ben around much either? 😦

  51. Rasp says:

    I checked around the mainstream blogs yesterday and there is a marked reduction in activity across the board. It’s a bit sad that the blog are only busy when everyone wants to moan.

  52. chas says:

    I’m not even sure what tautology is.
    I’m re-reading Eats Shoots and Leaves and it was Steve who set me off with ‘Hope your right mate’.
    I was going to put up ‘your right what’? ‘Testicle’?
    Or that
    ‘if anything BR was likely to be a left mate given his hippy leanings.’
    In the end I decided against both in case anyone thought I was a grammarian nazi.

    I quite like the phrase ‘sincere belief’, though. 🙂

  53. chas says:

    I tried to drag Terry out of the shadows yesterday with the Jackie Pallo photo but to no avail.

  54. chas says:

    Always makes me think of Dandan

  55. chas says:

  56. chas says:

    Right, that pile of drivel has got the comments up to 60 and respectability.
    Back later for RA’s.

  57. Rasp says:

    Talking of St George in relation to George Graham ……. why do we think GG was scapegoated for practices that were endemic amongst managers at the time and Brian Clough was let off his misdemeanours – was it because he won the European Cup twice?

  58. Rasp says:

    chas – keep flushing, we need to read more TMHT gems 🙂

  59. chas says:

    We expect more from Arsenal managers?

  60. Rasp says:

    ‘We’ didn’t sanction GG, the FA did …. but I know what you mean

  61. Rasp says:

    I loved Razor’s story about Arsene and the apple pie yesterday and the fact that he used to call him Inspector Clouseau 😀

  62. Big Raddy says:

    Rasp. Very good question. If they couldn’t nail a crook like *Arry then I guess they couldn’t prove dishonesty.

    International black money is very hard to trace.

  63. Rasp says:

    Good point Raddy. I think Clough was pretty ill with alcoholism and they took pity on him, but I do get the impression that they made an example of GG to stop others persisting with the practice

  64. Rasp says:

    Having got chas’ comments up to healthy 68 now, I am pleased to announce …….

    ….. New post ……

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