As another Champions League final looms so soon after the 2020 final, we at Bavarian Football Works find ourselves torn about who to support. As a result, we decided to make up our own Champions League finals.
Take a look at the teams we would have liked to see take the pitch in the 2020-2021 final in Istanbul.
I don’t feel the need to introduce these two teams. The best and most historic teams in Spain and Germany, with almost 20 Champions League titles between them, they are the Champions League experts of the modern game. They’ve faced each other more times than fans care to remember, but never in a final before.
A final between these two heavyweights would be the battle of the century — a clash of two titans that would shake the world of football; a conflict of two distinct footballing identities from two different leagues, each with rich roots in European football; a blowout of stylish, attacking play carried out and conducted by some of the best players and coaches in the world.
It would be — red and white, fight night; the greatest gladiator match in the history of the world; Kaisers versus Reyes; blood versus light; Gods of Germany versus Saviors of Spain! Now this is one matchup that will guarantee viewers from all over the globe. And yes, it’s so big that it even makes a quote from a horrible movie (Batman v Superman) shine on its own.
Rapid Vienna vs Celtic
In the year fans spoke up to remind the multi-nation corporate forces that football was still their game, I have put together what I call the “all fan final.”
First up we have Rapid Vienna. Founded in 1897 as the First Viennese Workers Football Club, this club embodies fan involvement while having a long history of international success. The club remains member-owned, embraces it traditions and produces entertaining on the field product. It would also be a chance for the world to see some fine, young up-and-coming players who will likely leave Rapid over the next few years including Demir, Arase, Kara and Fountas who appear headed for bigger and better things. Lastly Rapid fans could use their first Champions League final to deliver a legendary “Rapid-Viertelstunde” as a send off for much beloved captain Dejan Ljubicic as he heads to FC Köln next year.
Their opponents will be another historic squad, Glasgow Celtic, founded in 1887. This will give us the two dominant teams from the two most long played, and two of the most heated rivalries in football history, the Old Firm in Glasgow and the Wiener Derby. There will be silverware aplenty on display with the mighty Celtic having over 100 trophies to their name, while Rapid come in as no slouches having delivered over 50 titles and cups for their faithful.
But the real reason Celtic get the nod is their fans. Rising out of a sad history of sectarian violence Celtic fans have lately redeemed themselves and become a model fanbase. They have won multiple media and official awards as the best fanbase and never fail to create an unforgettable game day atmosphere. They will even sing “You’ll never walk alone” to make BFW editor Tom Adams feel at home for the final:
Perhaps most importantly the teams are evenly matched. With Rapid’s current 538 index at 61.6 and Celtic at 59.1, it should be a cracker of a match! Since both teams have strong Catholic roots we will be inviting Pope Francis to conduct the ceremonial kick off.
My prediction: 3-2 to Die Grün-Weißen.
Ajax vs Borussia Mönchengladbach
When the Super League was announced, Ajax, Johan Cruyff’s beloved Ajax, winner of four European Cups, was not even extended an invitation while the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and PSG (combined one Champions League) were extended invitations. If the Super League was truly based on historical context and teams with glorious histories were invited, Ajax would be one of them. Only five teams (Real, AC Milan, Bayern, Liverpool and Barcelona) have won more European Cups than Ajax.
Ajax’s playing style is often eye-catching; while they were not up to the mark this season in Europe, they blew everyone away in the 2018/2019 season by playing swashbuckling football and making their way into the semifinals of the Champions League. They lost narrowly to Tottenham, leaving me, a neutral, in tears.
Their playing style and history would be welcomed in a Champions League final by me. I would like their opponent to be Borussia Mönchengladbach. Gladbach, during their time of Bundesliga dominance in the 70s, only played one European Cup final, which they lost. They are a team with a rich history as well, introducing the likes of Günter Netzer, Jupp Heynckes, Stefan Effenberg, Lothar Matthäus among others, to the football world.
Under Marco Rose, they have been inconsistent, but when Gladbach plays their game, they are absolutely glorious to watch. I hope Adi Hütter can continue that legacy.
Gladbach and Ajax would make for a fascinating Champions League final. I am afraid that Gladbach wouldn’t win their first though, with Ajax just clinching it by the odd goal of five.
Freiburg vs Rangers
Two clubs full of history and culture. Two clubs with two of the best and most loyal fanbases in the world. Two clubs with beautiful pitches. This is as beautiful and as wild as football gets and therefore, this is my pick for the UCL final.
It is no secret that Freiburg are one of the most gritty, hardworking and passionate sides in the Bundesliga. They also happen to be one of my favourite sides outside Bayern Munich, and for good reason - they never give up and fight to the death. It certainly helps that they have Christian Streich managing things at the helm... one will have to go far and wide to find a coach as committed, as dogged and as willing to go to war for his players as Streich. He’s made a club that were 2. BuLi regulars just 4-5 years ago to a consistent top 10 BuLi side.
Freiburg will see themselves face a club that is just as evenly matched in the passion department as anything else... Champions of the Scottish Premiership with a (currently) whopping 20 point lead, the club based in the Govan district of Glasgow know how to turn up in style. The club was literally founded by four teenage boys who decided that their district needed a big, illustrious club of its own. They are currently the second most successful club in the world in terms of trophies won. And with players like Morelos, Tavernier and Kent, they are in no shortage of talent or pedigree.
The stadium atmosphere would undoubtedly be deafening, and should therefore be held post COVID-19, once the restrictions have eased. You just cannot get the same experience in a “Geisterspiele”. I would definitely be the first one to purchase match tickets if this actually ends up happening, because I wish to test the limits of my eardrums. Jokes apart, this is one hell of a matchup, and although I find it super difficult to pick a winner, I see Freiburg edging this one out.
My Prediction: Freiburg 4-3 Rangers
Who would you like to see in a Champions League final? Let us know your thoughts below and, as always, thank you for reading!