Kick-off of the Champions League: hot battle for Henkelpott billions begins

Champions League kick-off
Hot battle for Henkelpott billions begins

The best club league in the world is back. The Champions League starts its new season today. For the first time, five German clubs are involved in the race for the title and UEFA billion. Bayern Munich is even one of the favorites in the race, but the competition is big – and rich.

Curtain up on Europe’s largest soccer theatre, the superstars ask you to play billions in the glittering world of the premier class: with Bayern Munich at the top, five Bundesliga clubs are starting today, Tuesday, for the first time on the long journey to Istanbul, the place of longing, the one from the Winter World Cup is made even more difficult in Qatar. “For me, FC Bayern is the top favourite,” said the former Munich sports director and current advisor to Borussia Dortmund: “They have a certain unpredictability, the speed, the greed and the hunger.”

But the longing for the “handle pot” is huge among the entire European football nobility – whether in Dortmund’s group opponents Manchester City with record hunter Erling Haaland, Bayern opponent FC Barcelona with world footballer Robert Lewandowski or defending champion Real Madrid. “There is generally a special relationship between the club and this competition,” said Toni Kroos, who eliminated top favorites City with record winners Madrid in last season’s semi-finals. For BVB coach Edin Terzic, the English champions are again “the absolute favourite”.

Who can dethrone Real Madrid?

Team manager Pep Guardiola has been chasing after the “Holy Grail” since taking office in 2016, but he deliberately does not want to speak of an “obsession”. Haaland emphasized: “We have to be better” than last time, “but it won’t be easy, there are so many good teams.” And with Bayern, Dortmund, Europa League winner Eintracht Frankfurt, cup winner RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, five from the Bundesliga.

“I would be happy if the German teams went far, that’s good for the Bundesliga, that’s good for German football,” said Bayern sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić. Among the title candidates, however, he counts “the usual suspects”: Real, City, Barça, plus Jürgen Klopp’s last year’s finalists from Liverpool, Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea FC or the “top squad” around Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappe from Paris St. Germain. And the Bavarians? “So do we, of course,” he said.

Two billion euros are in the pot

It’s always the same circle, the Champions League became a closed society two years before its reform, which will bring a league system (“Swiss model”) with 36 instead of 32 teams and 100 more games in 2024. Only Manchester United with record goalscorer Cristiano Ronaldo is missing this time. The five top leagues are mostly among themselves from the quarter-finals at the latest, especially in the final, which this time takes place after the World Cup was interrupted on June 10, 2023 in the Atatürk Stadium.

For the big clubs and the European Football Union (UEFA), the Champions League has become a money-printing machine, competition in most national leagues suffers as a result, as in this country with Bayern, the permanent champion. An unbelievable two billion (!) euros, that’s two followed by nine zeros, are currently being distributed among all 32 participants in the group phase. For the preliminary round alone, each starter receives 15.64 million euros from the UEFA pot, plus TV money, lavish bonuses and viewer income.

The fragmentation of the television market is the almost logical consequence – where there is no monopoly, everyone can earn more. If you want to watch every game live in Germany, you need two subscriptions (DAZN and Prime Video)free to air, only summaries run until the finale (Wednesdays on ZDF from 11 p.m.). And in the end, according to Gary Lineker, Real wins anyway. Toni Kroos would hardly disagree, but he doesn’t give the Champions League a great future. Sooner or later, the Rio world champion said in his podcast, the Super League will come, he’s “pretty sure”.

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