Champions Slip Up: Physical or Mental?

No team has ever won the Champions League in two consecutive seasons since the competition took its new name in 1991. We will look at the possible reasons for the slip up of the title holders every year, and will Champions Real Madrid break this rule?

There is no team that has won the Champions League in two consecutive seasons. A few have made it to the semi-final the following season, but no team has been able to break the rule and retain the title. Are they not able to win it? Of course not, they are still the same team and maybe got even better.

If you take the examples of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Madrid won in 1998, 2000 and 2002. They won it again in 2014 and 2016. Barcelona won in 2006, 2009, 2011 and 2015. It is not that Barcelona weren’t good enough in 2010 nor that Real did not have enough quality in 1999, 2001 and 2015.

Some experts say that Champions have their noses in the sky and that’s why they slip up. Others think that a tactical solution has been found to beat this team who usually does not change the style of play after winning the competition. Actually the main problem in my opinion is physical.

The reality is that no team has been physically able to put enough effort to win a huge competition like the Champions League in two consecutive seasons. And no winning team is willing to sacrifice their league position and Champions League participation the following year just to win it twice in a row. Risking a Champions League spot by not putting enough effort in the league costs a lot of money, and teams such as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern and Manchester United cannot afford to lose money.

Physically it is not just the effort they put in the previous season, but they also have a new competition to play. It is true that the Club World Cup is only two matches for European clubs, but these two more matches will cause one or two postponed matches to be played later on in the season. The postponed matches come in key moments when players desperately need to rest. Failure to rest will cause injuries, ask Ancelotti about that. When you have many injuries, you’re mainly relying on the same players who will be extremely tired at the end of the season, when you reach advanced stages of the Champions League and you lose.

Losing is not mental. Those Champions almost always have a team of psychologists putting efforts to avoid this mental breakdown of the players. So it is more physical, these players are not able to keep up the same level of intensity in their play.

I don’t think that Real Madrid’s chances of winning this season are very high despite that Zizou should have experience in the competition from the time he played with Madrid and lost when they were Champions.


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