2020 Champions League Final



The 2020 Champions League final was, at the very least, like no other. The Champions League is an annual soccer competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) where top-division European teams compete against each other. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the final stages, in addition to being delayed 85 days, also went through a series of other changes which made the tournament a unique one.

The championship begins with a few preliminary rounds, with each match consisting of two legs; the six surviving teams get to enter the competition, joining 26 other teams, all of which have already qualified. The 32 teams are separated into 8 groups of 4 teams and play in a double round-robin format. The winners and the runners-up of these eight groups move on to the knockout stage, and fight their way to the final. The winner of the tournament is automatically qualified for next year’s Champions League, as well as the UEFA Super Cup, and the FIFA Club World Cup, two other important tournaments. This year, due to the coronavirus adaptations, the quarter-finals and the semi-finals became a single match knockout (they are normally two legs). The two teams who made it to the finals were F.C. Bayern Munich, from Germany, and Paris Saint-Germain F.C. (PSG), from France. The winner was Bayern Munich, with a final score of 1-0

The game was played in Lisbon, inside the immense Estádio da Luz (Stadium of Light) on August 23rd. Although halfway across the globe, the repercussion in Brazil was big, not only because Brazil is famously known for having passionate soccer fans, but also because of the various stars that were playing for both rival teams. In PSG, the Brazilian star was Neymar, the “camisa 10”  of the team – the world’s best players tend to wear jersey number 10. On the other hand, Bayern de Munich’s “camisa 10” was Philippe Coutinho, another popular Brazilian soccer player. Consequently, there was a lot of controversy between what team to cheer for. Coni Novellino, a senior at Graded who plays soccer, was cheering for Bayern Munich; her intuition told her they would win, as in the semi-finals, “Bayern destroyed Barcelona and therefore would also beat PSG”. Furthermore, she also thought it was weird how, due to the pandemic, there was no crowd.  One of the safety measures taken by UEFA was to eliminate the fans in the stadium. Under the unfortunate circumstance, most TV streamers decided to implement the sound of fans cheering in the stadium to make it more exciting, but even so, it was not the same. “A big part of the fun of the championship is the crowd. Even when you are not in the stadium, when you see people cheering in the bleachers it makes the game more interesting”, she said. 

Nonetheless, there were still many fans who favored PSG, including Graded students. Marina Mizrahi, another senior at Graded, who is also a soccer fanatic, wished PSG would have won: “PSG does not have a single Champions League, whereas Bayern Munich took home their 6th”, Marina said.

With all that considered, following this year’s most illustrious tournament in club soccer felt strange. It also reinforces and proves the importance and popularity of the sport as, even during the pandemic, the whole tournament had a huge following. With this, it is also eye-opening that the world will have to find new ways to enjoy traditional events that entertain during these weird and confusing times.