UEFA Champions League final: a clash of philosophies
This weekend’s UEFA Champions League final will be a clash of homegrown footballing philosophies as well as a clash between 22 men on a football pitch.
The Bayern Munich squad that contested the UEFA Champions League semi-final in the second leg, contained seven players who have emerged through the club’s youth ranks.
Five of those made it to the starting line-up: Holger Badstuber, David Alaba, Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos.
Sadly, both Alaba and Badstuber will be suspended for the final, but that is a story for another day.
Although the club have spent a lot in acquiring the brilliant core group of Franck Ribery, Mario Gomez, Arjen Robben and Manuel Neuer, a large portion of the side was either acquired cheaply or produced through the club’s youth system.
A principled, measured approach to player-acquisition and promotion of youth talent has won the club many admirers, and despite narrowly coming through a hard-fought UCL semi-final and being trounced 5-2 by Borussia Dortmund, they must be considered slight favourites to win this weekend in their home stadium.
Bayern are famed for their prudent fiscal policy, wage-management and retention of former playing staff to serve within the club.
Uli Hoeness has stated that the impending Financial Fair Play rules being promoted by UEFA will not harm the club, but rather that the club welcome the system.
Bayern currently spend far less of their revenue on wages compared to most clubs, especially their opponents this weekend, Chelsea.
The Chelsea side that fought tooth and nail to emerge victorious over Barcelona, contained only one player to have come through the youth ranks of the club, John Terry.
The remainder of the side, whilst containing long-time servants Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Petr Cech among others, contained no homegrown talent.
It is evidence of the huge buying capacity of owner Roman Abramovich that the club is able to continually introduce established domestic and foreign talent.
Abramovich has spent countless dollars and hours on his club, with the ultimate goal of UEFA Champions League glory continuing to elude them.
As it stands, it is highly unlikely that the club would be able to meet the requirements of Financial Fair Play regulations: club losses have been underwritten by Abramovich for most, if not all, of the years he has owned the club.
So we come back to a central question of not only who will win the contest between these two sides, but also a contest of prudent football management and steady growth versus rapid growth but no long-term philosophy of bringing youth players through.
Chelsea’s much hailed young talent Josh McEachran does not look like breaking into the midfield starting line-up any time soon, while other talents Sam Hutchinson and Ryan Bertrand may also struggle.
While new footballing money may win over prudent and admirable football management this weekend, if Chelsea beat Bayern, it can only be viewed as a short-term victory.
It is almost certain that next year, one side will be looking abroad for talent, while the other will be continuing to grow due to its intelligent footballing and fiscal policies.
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