The European Cup, named since 1993 UEFA champions leagueOn September 4, she turned 66 years old, a time in which she was the most faithful witness to the development of world football. Since that small tournament devised by the French newspaper L’Équipe Until this mega universal event much (or everything) has changed and today the Champions it has a value that transcends the competition itself.
Every nation in Europe has seen the orejona as an object of desire with an unattainable appearance, as are the best objects of desire. Only ten have managed to take the trophy home and four of them only once. With 66 disputed editions, It is possible to sketch a theory about the football reigns of each country on the continent where football was born.
The history of the European Cup it can be divided by epochs. Each with its dominating nation, which on some occasions was hegemonic. There were shorter eras and more extensive ones and (almost) always that superiority has also been transferred to the field of national teams. It is as if, as it happened in ancient times (and not so much), different dynasties will pass the crown. Sometimes with war and sometimes without it, because of the simple natural order of things.
At the beginning of time, it was lived under a Spanish dynasty in which Real Madrid occupied the throne in a kind of obviousness and historical redundancy. With Alfredo Di Stéfano as the flag, the merengue team won the first five cups and had no rivals while the Saeta Rubia maintained its best level.
Then it was the turn of a short Portuguese reign led by Benfica and Eusebio. The Portuguese team rose after winning two battles against the Spanish: Barcelona in 1961 and Real Madrid in 1962. Four years after the second title, Portugal stood out in the World Cup and finished third in England in 1966, with the Mozambique Panther as the undisputed figure. .
In 1962/63 came the first Italian reign, with the catenaccio as the main, novel and deadly weapon. First the champion was Nereo Rocco’s AC Milan and then Helenio Herrera’s Inter achieved two consecutive stars. The foundation of those winners led the Azzurra to win Euro 1968.
After, came a interregnum in which the crown was lent some old kings, like Real Madrid and Milan, with new ones, like the British Manchester United and Celtic. That was just a warning from the men of the islands, who would return to reign with an iron fist.
In 1969/70 the Dutch appeared with his luxurious clothes to unseat the Scots of Celtic in a remembered final. First was Feyenoord and then the legendary Ajax by Johan Cruyff. Of course, the base of the three-time champion 71-72-73 was the outstanding in the 1974 World Cup in West Germany.
Right away it was the turn of the Bavarians. With their usual strength and organization, the Germans won three consecutive cups thanks to Bayern Munich and to Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Müller. They themselves also led their national team to the world title in 1974, days after having raised their ears.
One of the longest reigns began in 1976/77, culminating tragically. Like another joke of fate, they were the English with their monarchical pretenses who ruled eight seasons with seven titles. Liverpool four years, Brian Clough’s unforgettable Nottingham Forest two and Kevin Keegan’s Aston Villa one.
The tragedy came on May 29, 1985 in Heysel, where 39 fans were killed by an avalanche caused by the hooligans Liverpool before the final against Juventus. The UEFA sanction was unprecedentedly harsh: a five-year veto of all European competition to England’s clubs.
After that fact, the crown passed from head to head without a clear owner. Italians, Romanians, Portuguese and Dutch lent it to him until at the end of the eighties one of the most valued teams of all time broke in. Arrigo Sacchi’s Milan reigned for a shorter period than his legend deserves. He was a monarch that lasted only two years but is remembered as one of the best.
Then it started one second interregnum of short reigns, fleeting. They ruled the Red Star Serbs when no one expected them. Also the Barcelona of Johan Cruyff, with Josep Guardiola in the field, deployed its sumptuous dream team but only for one year. Also appeared for the first and only time the French from the south of Olympique Marseille. And Milan, Ajax, Juventus, Dortmund. Little stability.
Had to appear an ancient dynasty to break that swing. In 1998, Real Madrid returned after nearly four decades of ostracism. He won three of six cups and gave Spain an irregular regency but regency in the end. Then they came three years old kings that their pompous garments were tried on ephemerally: the Italians from Milan, the Portuguese from Porto, and the British from Liverpool.
In 2006 a monarch arrived who is still missed by many. Lionel Messi’s Barcelona, first with Frank Rijkaard as coach, and then with Josep Guardiola, he started a dynasty that had its twists and turns and also its defeats, but which is part of the most brilliant history.
In those days he lent his crown to the Lombards of Milan and Inter and the English of Manchester United and Chelsea, but maintained the arrogance of the kings. Those were times when the Iberian Peninsula prevailed, with sovereigns of Catalonia first and Madrid later. Because Between 2014 and 2018, Real Madrid won four titles out of five.
Spain not only commanded the Champions League, but also the Eurocup and the World Cup. It was one of the most absolutist reigns in history. And it ended very recently, with the arrival of the British once again.
Today, it is the English who rule, displaying the luxuries of the Premier League and of a generation that knew how to reach the semis of the last World Cup and the final of the last Euro and nurtures Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City, four of the last six finalists. Now, it was time to put the crown on the line once again. The battle for the throne begins.