No matter who won, Saturday’s Champions League final was always going to prove a disturbing point about the state of European club football. The mouth-watering matchup of two teams seeking a treble of titles left no doubt that when it comes to titles, there is a concentration conundrum plaguing the game, with the big guys enjoying all the spoils and the lesser lights left on the sidelines.
In the end it was Inter, already Serie A and Coppa Italia champs, who trebled their pleasure with a 2-0 victory over Bundesliga and German Cup winners Bayern Munich. Bayern couldn’t extend its miracle run, one in which they’d knocked off favoured opponents like Juventus, Lyon and Manchester United to reach the final. Even the continued strong play of a Bayern’s Heartbreak Kid, a resurgent Arjen Robben (my pick for player of the tournament thanks to timely goals against Fiorentina, Lyon, and Man. United that kept the Germans alive in earlier rounds), wasn’t enough against Jose Mourinho’s stalwart squad, and Diego Milito’s surgical finishing.
Inter are worthy champions, but their latest victory should leave football fans worried. Two years ago, Man. United won the treble. Last year, Barca hauled in a record six trophies. Now this year’s winner has dominated as well. We all know that large clubs have ruled European football for some time. But the degree of domination has increased significantly in the last few years. In the past, there were always about 15 to 20 teams in Europe capable of winning trophies. With Liverpool, Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Schalke, Lazio, and others seemingly unable to keep up with the mega clubs, can we expect the same six or seven teams to own all the trophies in Europe from now on? I don’t know about you, but I find it a little scary knowing that, for the foreseeable future, only a handful of clubs (namely Man. United, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, AC Milan, and Bayern) will own 90% of the trophy haul. Let’s hope that changes in the future.