El Centrocampista

EVERYONE’S A WINNER – Valencia re-board the Champions League gravy train.

By Archie Buck

The wait is finally over! Last night saw the return of the most prestigious club competition in the world, The Uefa Champions League where the continent’s best sides will battle it out to reach the showpiece final in Munich next May.

Spanish Champions, Barcelona, have to be considered favourites to retain the trophy, but they face a battle from resurgent rivals Real Madrid as well as the twin threat from Manchester.

There will also be strong competition from Bayern Munich, Chelsea and the Milan Clubs but it is hard to put forward a case for any other teams winning the coveted crown.

What does this mean for middle and lower ranked teams in the tournament?

Valencia began with a hard-fought draw against Belgian side, Genk.

It is not strictly true that the aforementioned teams are nailed on to lift the trophy, but they are firm favourites.

In both 2004 and 2005, Porto and Liverpool respectively, showed that outsiders can lift the trophy, but it’s rare.

The realistic achievement for most clubs is the quarter-final or even occasionally, the semi-final.

Teams such as Porto, Valencia, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal have the quality to give the big teams a game, but over two legs tend to fall short.

For Valencia, success in the Champions League is imperative to their continued “re-growth” as a club.

With financial woes still lingering in the air at the Mestalla the revenue from the Champions League is a key component of the clubs financial structure.

With Valencia looking the most likely to close the gap on the “big two” they will still need to invest in order to compete at the highest level.

Shrewd investment in the transfer window has seen them strengthen over the last few years, but to really put themselves up there they will need to spend big eventually.

The money involved in the Champions League is huge.

In Spain, due to the individual TV rights agreements, Real Madrid and Barcelona rake in almost as much as the rest of the league put together.

Last year winners Barcelona earned €51m from the tournament, semi-finalists Real Madrid netted €39m.

Valencia brought in €24m just by reaching the round of 16. The two combined leaves Valencia a long way behind in income.

Reaching the quarter-final stage is a realistic aim for Valencia.

They have had a tough draw being thrown in with Chelsea, however Genk and Bayer Leverkusen should be beatable.

If they get through they also know they won’t have to face Chelsea again.

Valencia have a very young vibrant squad. Soldado continues to show great goal scoring form and surely is on his way to a national call up.

Players like Piatti and Canales add flair and class, with Hernandez dazzling on the wing.

They will be a tough opponent for anyone in Europe.

But it is not just reaching the later stages that brings in funds.

Match winners are rewarded with an €800,000 bonus.

That’s why it is vital that Valencia hit the ground running and last night’s goalless draw in Belgium, was a steady if unspectacular start.

A much sterner test is sure to come in a fortnight’s time when they host Chelsea.

Though it is perhaps wrong to view participation in the tournament as a money spinning operation the tournament is designed is so that wealth is distributed to lesser clubs.

Continued success for Los Che will appease their fans and creditors.

All facts and figures from Uefa.com http://www.uefa.com/uefa/management/finance/news/newsid=1661038.html

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