UEFA is the craze and intoxicating, to say the least. Photograph: (Getty)
The final of the UEFA league is undisputedly the most viewed annual sporting event. UEFA is the craze and intoxicating, to say the least.
The very essence and spirit of mankind reflect in the sports carnivals, which have been created by man. The Olympics and FIFA World Cup are sitting at the top in term of sumptuousness and viewership. But they take place once in four years. In annual sporting events, four Tennis Grand Slams are prominent. But it is UEFA Champions League, which undisputedly is the most popular annual sports carnival. One cycle of this tournament takes around 10-11 months to complete and it is spread over two years.
The best of European Football clubs fight it out for the supremacy in the tournament which is organised by UEFA (Union of European Football Association). The final of the league is undisputedly the most viewed annual sporting event. UEFA is the craze and intoxicating, to say the least. UEFA is the ultimate showcase of the most popular sports on the globe, ie Football. The best players from across the world are part of it and compete.
Make no mistake and don’t make a perception out of the fact that it is club tournament. Studded with superstars, these teams are the epitome of perfection. Say, for example, it is believed that team of AC Milan during the late eighties, which was studded with stars like Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit, Roberto Donadoni and the all-time greatest defender Paolo Maldini was perhaps the most formidable football side of all times; even better than best of the all-time national teams at their peak. UEFA is the platform where players hone their skills. Take the example of Spain; Spanish honed their skills in UEFA which manifest in Spain’s victory in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The quarter-final phase of 2018-19 kick-started on 13th February 2017. This is the 63rd edition of the tournament. Eyes are on the defending champion Real Madrid, considered the greatest team of all times in the UEFA with a record 12 titles. Real Madrid has won the last two editions and now looking for a first ever hat-trick in UEFA. Celebrity Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo is the key player for Real Madrid. Ronaldo has so far scored 9 goals in this edition of the tournament and he is the front-runner.
When Real Madrid will take on PSG (Paris Saint-Germain) on the night of 14th February, Ronaldo would be looking for his 100th goal in UEFA League for Real Madrid, which would be an iconic achievement and, currently, he is just one goal away from this. The match between Real Madrid and PSG would be sort of clash of the Titans, as Brazilian sensation and costliest player Neymar is in the lineup of PSG.
Under the coach Zinedine Zidane, the French hero of 1998 FIFA World Cup, Real Madrid has been as formidable as ever, notwithstanding the fact that in group stage they ended second to Tottenham Hotspur.
When next week Barcelona will take on Chelsea, another star Lionel Messi will be in action. With five titles, Barcelona is one of the most successful teams in the tournament (second Spanish club after Real Madrid). Last time they won here in 2015.
This year, UEFA League is important in a sense that the FIFA World Cup would take place in Russia during June-July 2018 and these superstars will have the last chance to have a close look at the players, whom they will compete with. The teammate striker in UEFA may be your buddy here, but the same guy will make you run for your money 4-5 months down the line in Russia (something like our very own IPL).
In the first two quarterfinal matches on 13th Feb, runners-up of 2015 and 2016 Juventus played a draw (2-2) with Tottenham and Manchester City has routed FC Basel by 4-0. Remaining two matches of the first leg of quarterfinal would be played tonight.
So football mania has kick-started, which will only culminate now with the FIFA World Cup in mid-July 2018.
(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)