UEFA Champions League. Does it ring a bell? How about if I say FIFA World Cup? Can you guess what the UEFA Champions League might be referring to now? Yes, it involves feet and a ball, a sport our European counterparts rightfully refer to as fútbol.
Unlike the World Cup, UEFA Champions occurs annually, bringing together the most talented, renown, expensive, and competitive European clubs into one sphere where fans everywhere can watch them compete for glory. This year, the championship culminated in a face-off between Spain’s FC Barcelona and England’s Manchester United. Tensions and expectations were high as both teams had much to offer, but unfortunately, the victory was decided long before the match began—with Barcelona as the undisputed victor. Not only does Barça carry the four of world’s best players, but their mastery of the game and strong-arm tactics make them an undefeatable team as well. It may seem a bit of hyperbole to say that Barcelona is undefeatable, but the statistics don’t lie, and they currently support my seemingly exaggerated assertions. Barcelona’s past victories against reputable clubs are universally recognized as complete dominations. It is sad to observe “great” teams struggle against Barcelona, but Barcelona never disappoints. Fans everywhere, and Manchester United, had known this, and Barcelona’s performance on Saturday confirmed that they are indeed the best. Barcelona defeated Manchester United 3-1, with 22 shots on goal (compared to Manchester’s 4 shots), and 68% of the possession of the ball.
It is indisputable that Manchester was dominated in their home turf on Saturday. But this event and its tremendous viewership demonstrate how this exhilarating sport is gaining fame. According to Seth Pollack of SB Nation Arizona, viewership for the Champion’s league final reached over 300 million viewers. In the aftermath, Nielsen’s Media Research reported that viewership has indeed increased as they observed a 93% increase in views over the previous season. Perhaps the chance to witness such beautiful soccer, as performed by world-class players, is what is drew the larger amount of viewers, but the point is, a once under-recognized sport is finally gaining the recognition it deserves.
Although the author may appear to have an unshakable bias against any team that isn’t Barcelona, this impression is far from the truth. The author is a fervent supporter of Chelsea FC. His perspective is said to be “neutral”.