Euro 2020 Special

A Look Back at the Champions League in 2022

2022 in Champions League terms straddles two different seasons.

One was the culmination of the 2021/2022 season, and which ended with Real Madrid winning it for a record 14th time.

The other was the first half of the 2022/2023 campaign, with the group phase of the competition accelerated into a truncated 10 week period because of the timing of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Already the draw for the matches in the round of 16 has been made, which will begin when the league resumes in February, 2023.


Real’s highwire ride to the final

Real’s progress to the final in Paris, was fraught with danger, and several times they appeared likely to be knocked out of the tournament.

In the round of 16, they were beaten by PSG in Paris in the away leg, and then trailed at home to a Kylian Mbappé goal at home in Madrid. Three goals in 17 minutes, though, enabled them to turn the match and result on its head.

In the quarter-final against Chelsea, they thought they had done the hard work when they won 3 – 1 away in London.

However, in the return leg, the Premier League side were three goals to the good, and on the verge of one of the all-time comeback victories, before Real again scored late, twice. They lost on the night, but still progressed on aggregate.

That was just an hors d’oeuvre compared to what happened in their semi-final against Manchester City,

The first leg in Manchester was a seven goal thriller, which the home side just edged.

And when City took a 73rd minute lead at the Bernabeu in the reverse fixture, it seemed that Real had finally run out of luck, with Pep Guardiola’s side seemingly fully in control of proceedings.

Even when Karim Benzema scored a 90th minute goal which brought the scores level on the night, it seemed like it was just a consolation in the overall scheme of things.

But, as the match ticked into injury time, substitute Rodrygo added a second, forcing the match into extra time.

When Benzema scored again, this time from the penalty spot, they had pulled off the most unlikely of escapes from imminent defeat.


The final

The final was originally scheduled to be played in St. Petersburg, but was switched to Paris following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It later transpired that the French authorities were not fully prepared to handle a match of this significance.

Real Madrid’s opponents were Liverpool appearing in their third final in five years, with the two having played each other in the first of those in Kyiv.

Real won that match and they triumphed again this time, thanks to a single goal scored early in the second half by their Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior.

It was their 14th title in all, a record.

For Liverpool fans, though, the occasion was marred by ticketing problems and gaining access to the stadium. As they queued to enter the ground, a crush developed, and the police used tear gas, causing many people, including women and children, breathing problems.

The French Minister of Interior initially blamed the problem on English hooligans, but a subsequent UEFA inquiry absolved the Liverpool fans of any blame, and said that the responsibility for the problem lay entirely with local match officials and police.


The 2022 – 2023 season

The group phases of the 2022 – 2023 season, saw a number of traditional giants of European football fail to advance to the knock-out stages. Ajax, Barcelona and Juventus all finished third in their groups, meaning that they have dropped down to the round of 32 of the Europa League. Given the financial problems facing both Barcelona and Juventus, that is a big blow to them.

However, for Atlético Madrid, twice finalists in the past decade, it was even worse. They finished bottom of their qualifying group and are out of Europe altogether.


The draw

The draw for the round of 16, which will begin in February 2023, has already been made.

Liverpool have an immediate chance to avenge that defeat to Real, because the two sides have been drawn against each other again.

Meanwhile, in a repeat of the 2022 final, PSG will take on their conquerors on that occasion, Bayern Munich.

Manchester City, who are the current bookmakers’ favourites to win the trophy for the first time will play the German side RB Leipzig.




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