This year’s Champions League campaign was truly special. After the initial cancellation of sports in March, there were worries that the tournament might not even take place. Fortunately, it did. Without this year’s tournament, we would have never been able to witness these incredible moments and stories. It was a record-breaking Champions League in many ways.
Bayern has seemed like an unstoppable force ever since Hansi Flick took the reins of Die Roten back in November of 2019. However, it didn’t look as if Bayern would win anything up until that point. Bayern had just suffered a 5-1 loss to Eintracht Frankfurt and looked in no way ready to take on the giants of Europe. Yet in virtually no time, the team was reborn under Flick and went undefeated in competitive matches since December 7, 2019.
This year’s tournament was Bayern’s to lose. Bayern scored a staggering 43 goals this campaign. To put that into perspective, last year’s champions, Liverpool, scored only 24 goals while playing two games more. Bayern recorded an outstanding xG Differential of 21.9, which exemplified their consistently outstanding play. And Manuel Neuer once again showed the world he is the GOAT, by recording six clean sheets this campaign.
This Champions League victory, along with the Bundesliga championship and the DFB-Pokal, has earned Bayern Munich a precious treble, the second in club history since 2012/13. Bayern Munich is the first team to achieve the continental treble since Barcelona in 2014/15. Additionally, they join Barcelona as the only teams to have ever won a continental treble twice.
Lastly, Bayern is the only team to have ever achieved the incredible feat of winning every fixture in the Champions League campaign (11-0-0). Granted, Bayern played two matches less than a team normally would play, since the quarterfinals and semifinals were held as single, knockout games, so one could attach an asterisk to that stat.
Lewandowski emphatically reasserted himself as the world’s best striker. He scored 15 goals in the competition, coming up just short of Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 goals in the 2013/14 campaign with Real Madrid. Lewandowski also finished the tournament with 6 assists, which was enough to give him the incredible feat of having both the most goals and most assists of any player in this year’s tournament (tied with Di Maria at 6 assists). After leading Bayern Munich their sixth European title, the Polish striker almost certainly would have received year’s Ballon d’Or. He will have to settle for the people’s champion and the knowledge that the coveted award should have been his.
An underdog for the ages
Lyon’s miraculous run was the story of the tournament. The French side was a slayer of giants, taking out early favorites Juventus and Manchester City in the round of 16 and quarterfinals, respectively. After blowing away expectations, they saw their miracle story come to an end when they were defeated 3-0 in the semifinal match against Bayern Munich. An analytic model of their expected goals gave Lyon an xG Differential of -6.0. Two comparable teams are Lokomotiv Moscow (-7.0) and Shakhtar (-5.8). These two teams combined for a 2-3-7 record in their 12 games this Champions League season. Lyon’s campaign, like Ajax’s from last season, will be remembered as one of the great underdog runs of recent years.
Erling Braut Haaland
The name of a man who most fans of the sport didn’t even know before this year’s tournament. By the end of the group stage, he had already been cemented as a favorite for soccer fans across the world. Haaland put on a show on the world stage, scoring 8 goals for RB Salzburg before earning a move over to German giants, Borussia Dortmund. After moving to his new Bundesliga side, he added another two goals to his tally. Although Dortmund lost to Paris Saint-Germain in the Round of 16, his performance will still be recognized as one of the greatest feats of the tournament.
Bayern 8, Barcelona 2
Bayern became the first team in the competition’s history to score eight goals in a knockout match since Real Madrid put nine past FC Wacker Innsbruck in a round of 16 clash in the 1990/91 season.
Barcelona were outscored by six goals for the first time since 1951, when they received a 6-0 thrashing from Spanish side Espanyol.
Barcelona conceded eight goals for the first time since Sevilla defeated them 8-0 in 1946.
Extras / bonus Stats
386 goals were scored in this year’s tournament. Since this campaign was played over 119 games, the average comes out to 3.244 goals scored per game. That is a significant gain over the more moderate total of 366 goals scored last season. This may not seem like a huge change but there were 6 fewer games played this year (quarters and semis played in one leg). The 2018/19 Champions League season provided just 2.928 goals per game.
This was the first Champions League season ever where only teams from Europe’s traditional top five leagues advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament.
With Bayern Munich’s sixth title success, they move up to 3rd (tied with Liverpool) in most titles won behind Real Madrid and A.C. Milan with 13 and 7, respectively.
Hansi Flick has become the fourth German ever to win the Champions League as a manager in its current format and the sixth total. The others: Udo Lattek (1973/74), Dettmar Cramer (1975/76—1976/77), Ottmar Hitzfeld (1996/97, 2000/1), Jupp Heynckes (1997/98, 2012/13), and Jürgen Klopp (2018/19).
Just for fun — here are the 2019/20 Champions League goals scored based on players’ birthplace: