Atalanta were undoubtedly the underdog team that every neutral was rooting for in the Champions League Quarter-Finals. So, watching them go from 1-0 ahead in injury time, to mercilessly booted out by Qatar-owned PSG 1-2 was hard to take for many.

There was already a general malaise of discontent from neutral fans following UAE-owned Manchester City’s two-year European ban being overturned by CAS.

Not to forget the ongoing social media campaign, which many believe is fueled by bots, for the Premier League to allow Newcastle United to become the latest sovereign state-owned club. In this instance, by the Saudi royal family.

But it seems tonight’s 88th minute deflected goal from Red Bull RasenBallsport Leipzig that seems to have finally pushed people over the edge.

UEFA Capitalism League: Domestic Dominance

Everybody loves an underdog story. Seeing teams like Atletico, Lyon or Atalanta win the Champions League would feel like a win for the little guy.

Atletico Madrid are the proverbial third wheel in La Liga. A league dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid. Atletico are the only team to have won the La Liga title aside from the ‘big two’ in the last sixteen years. And they have only managed to do so once.

Ligue 1 is considered the most unbalanced domestic league at the moment. PSG are winning titles at a canter. When Monaco recently interrupted PSG’s dominance, the Parisians asset-stripped them of their star player in Kylian Mbappe. The league title has returned to Paris where it has stayed every season since.

While in Italy, Juventus have won nine titles in a row. It would probably be a lot more if they were not demoted to Serie B for match-fixing back in the early 2000’s.

Is it fair to attribute this dominance purely down to money? We have highlighted in the past the financial disparity between PSG, Juve, Real & Barcelona from the chasing pack in their respective leagues.

But how much is this impacting the UEFA Champions League?

UEFA Capitalism League: Europe’s Top Spenders

Cumulative Net Spend of the Top 11 clubs in Europe. Data as of 24 July 2020.
Cumulative Net Spend of the Top 11 clubs in Europe. Data as of 24 July 2020.

Interestingly, the top five in this chart haven’t been contesting the Champions League in recent seasons. Manchester City and PSG from that group have never reached the final for club football’s biggest prize.

UEFA Capitalism League: The 2019/20 Edition

Cumulative Net Spend of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finalists. Starting in 2016 as it is the year Leipzig reached the Bundesliga.
Cumulative Net Spend of the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League Quarter-Finalists. Starting in 2016 as it is the year Leipzig reached the Bundesliga.

This sheds some light on where this resentment on social media may be coming from. The Quarter-Finals this season are two for two with the rich ‘brand’ defeating a ‘proper football club’. Further victories for Barcelona and Manchester City would see the competition’s semi-finalists being the four biggest spenders from the quarter-final stages.

It is too soon to say the Champions League winner will be whoever spends the most. Last season’s final featured Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur; two teams with a meager net spend. Liverpool also walked away with the Premier League this season, ahead of Manchester City.

None of this will make the ill-feeling towards certain clubs dissipate on social media though. Particularly if either Manchester City or PSG win it this season.

A glossary of all the terms used in this article and throughout the site as a whole is available here. Also, click on any image in the article for a full-size high definition version.

All data used in our articles is sourced from Understat, FBRef, Sofascore, Transfermarkt and 538.

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