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Pau Cubarsí. EFE
Bringing the trophy back home
A look a La Liga

Bringing the trophy back home

Statistically, at least, Spain stands a chance of boasting the European champions. Not bad for a country that is said to have a 'farmers league' by the uninitiated out there

Friday, 15 March 2024, 15:38

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Let's not have the "Which is the best league in the world?" argument yet again, but La Liga must be very proud of having more clubs in the Champions League quarter finals than any other country.

Neither Real Madrid, Atlético or Barcelona breezed through, yet they all have a decent chance of bringing the elite European trophy back to Spain.

The obvious favourites are the Premier League clubs. Manchester City have an immense side and enviable pool of players to dip into. Arsenal are strong and have talent in their prime years. The danger for both English clubs is that they will have to concentrate so hard on the fight for the domestic title that it will impact on the European adventures.

The two German teams shouldn't be underestimated, however Bayern Munich look too fragmented to launch a serious bid and Borussia Dortmund appear to have exceeded all expectations by getting this far. Paris Saint-Germain always seem to flounder when it gets serious, and this is the weakest team in recent years from the French capital.

So, there's a great opportunity for the two Madrids and Barça. With their best eleven, I'd argue that Real could challenge Man City as the top team in Europe. Sadly, Thibaut Courtois, Éder Militão and David Alaba are long term casualties. With those three I'd back them to win the whole tournament, without them they lack a little ballast. Carlo Ancelotti has done a remarkable job in patching things up week in and week out to walk La Liga. The Champions League may just need a little more stability.

Nobody expected Barcelona to get this far, especially their coach Xavi Hernández; otherwise, he wouldn't have announced that he's packing the job in at the end of the season. Their best two players are teenagers - and they have no fear factor. Pau Cubarsí won player-of-the-match in his Champions League debut this week. Lamine Yamal, still only 16, continues to astound everyone with his incredible talent.

Factor in the know-how of İlkay Gündoğan and Robert Lewandowski and you may have a team to be reckoned with. It's the last realistic chance for the German and Poland stars.

Combine this with the energy of the emerging talent and you may have a proper underdog.

I predicted in this column that Atlético would be favourites to win the Spanish title. Well, that's not going to happen! Maybe I chose the wrong competition? They have a team of seasoned stars, one of the best managers in the world, and have reached the final twice in the last decade.

Diego Simeone's side haven't lost at home in the league or Europe this season. They are very capable of holding opponents on their own turf, quietening the crowd and then turning them over at the Metropolitano. That was the plan that was executed perfectly against Inter Milan, even if they needed to hold their nerve in the penalty shootout.

Statistically, at least, Spain stands a chance of boasting the European champions. Not bad for a country that is said to have a 'Farmers League' by the uninitiated out there.

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