Wednesday, May 23, 2012

In an alternate history, Barcelona just won the Champions League

Last year, I examined how each year's UEFA Champions League final would've looked if the old format of only the league champions (plus the holders) was in place. The switch was made in 1997-98, and Manchester United was the first non-champion to win the competition a season. The post can be found here.

My formula is to take the team that advanced the furthest in real life and give them the title, with any ties broken by total points in the competition (excluding qualifying rounds).

This year, 5/16 of the participants in the knockout stage had won their league, and would've qualified under the old format. Barcelona advanced the furthest, and in this alternate history would've been crowned champions. Of the other four teams, Basel and Zenit were eliminated in the eighthfinals, while APOEL and Milan made it to the quarters. So the runner up spot comes down to total points, APOEL vs Milan. Both teams had 9 in the group stage and one win the round of 16. However, Milan got a draw against Barcelona in the quarterfinals, while APOEL lost twice against Real Madrid. So it ended up being 13-12 in favor of Milan, making the alternate history final Barcelona over Milan if the rules had never changed.

Here's a list of how the champions would've looked each year under the old formula versus real life. 8/15 years would have the same winner, while only two years would've had the exact same final. However, in terms of the overall amount of wins, there's not too many differences in the total wins for both clubs and countries. Chelsea wouldn't have won this year, but they would've already had a title back in 2007.

Dynamo Kiev winning in 1999 is the biggest difference, while seeing their fellow Ukrainian team Shakhtar as runners up a year ago is surprising too. Kiev and Juventus are the only new winners, while Liverpool is the only real life winner to not win one.

Champions League Finals - Real Life vs Old Format

1998 Real Madrid d. Juventus
Real Madrid d. Juventus
1999 Manchester Utd d. Bayern Munich
Dynamo Kiev d. Juventus
2000 Real Madrid d. Valencia
Barcelona d. Bayern Munich
2001 Bayern Munich d. Valencia
Bayern Munich d. Deportivo
2002 Real Madrid d. Bayer Leverkusen
Real Madrid d. Manchester Utd
2003 AC Milan d. Juventus
Juventus d. Real Madrid
2004 Porto d. Monaco
Porto d. Real Madrid
2005 Liverpool d. AC Milan
AC Milan d. Lyon
2006 Barcelona d. Arsenal
Barcelona d. AC Milan
2007 AC Milan d. Liverpool
Chelsea d. Bayern Munich
2008 Manchester Utd d. Chelsea
Manchester Utd d. Chelsea
2009 Barcelona d. Manchester Utd
Manchester Utd d. Bayern Munich
2010 Inter d. Bayern Munich
Inter d. Barcelona
2011 Barcelona d. Manchester Utd
Barcelona d. Shakhtar
2012 Chelsea d. Bayern Munich
Barcelona d. AC Milan