The End of The Beginning: The New Era of European Football
From the English Premier League to the Italian Serie A, the German Bundesliga to the Spanish LaLiga, the European continent is bursting at the seams with high-quality Soccer. The sport has been Europe’s most popular game for decades, leading to the creation of the European Cup all the way back in 1956. The Cup did not take off immediately, and some would argue that it wasn’t until the creation of the modern Champions League in 1992 that European football genuinely began to find its feet.
Despite the slow start, a second tier of European football was created in 1971. The second tier was originally known as the UEFA Cup but was eventually rebranded in 2009 to become the modern-day Europa League. This year, 2022, marks the end of the first season featuring a new third tier of European Football, known as the UEFA Europa Conference League. These three European leagues are considered the most elite level of competition by most European clubs, so their finals are widely considered to be the most important football matches of May:
Champions League Final
For those who enjoy sports betting in Canada, May is going to be the biggest month of the year so far. The Champion’s League Trophy is by far the most desirable piece of silverware in European football, and the competition is one of the most fiercely contested sporting events around the globe. The 2022 Final will be the first final played in front of a full attendance since 2019, and tickets for the game to see Liverpool play Real Madrid at the Stade de France sold out in record-breaking time.
England’s Liverpool is considered the favorite to win the final at present, but their opponents are certainly no slouch. Nobody would ever consider Real Madrid a lost cause, but the bookmakers do seem convinced (for now) that Liverpool have this one in the bag despite Real Madrid having appeared in almost twice as many finals as their rivals.
Real Madrid +270
Europa League Final
The Europa League has gone from strength to strength since being rebranded from the UEFA Cup in 2009. What was once seen as a poor mans alternative to the Champions League has finally become a treasured piece of silverware. The 2022 finals look set to be one of the most exciting finals ever fought, when Scottish side Rangers will take on Germany’s Eintracht Frankfurt at France’s Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan Stadium in Seville.
Rangers have put up an amazing fight this season and are currently the highest goal scorer of the league with 22 goals. Their rivals Frankfurt currently sits in second place with 20 goals to their name. Despite this small advantage, the bookmakers currently believe that the German side will have the edge on final day; Frankfurt have lifted the Europa League trophy before, whilst Rangers have only made it to the final on one previous occasion. Unlike the Champions League final, there are still some tickets available for this game if you are willing to pay a premium price.
Eintracht Frankfurt +115
Rangers FC +235
Europa Conference League Final
The inaugural Europa Conference League final is set to take place at Albania’s Tirana National Arena. The match will see Italian side Roma take on the Netherlands Feyenoord, who are the two highest-scoring teams in this year’s competition. Feyenoord have had an unbelievable run in this first ever Europa Conference League, failing to concede a single game during the competition proper. Roma did suffer a humiliating 6-1 defeat during the group stages but wasted no time pulling themselves together and have fought their way back to feature in the decisive final game.
The 21,690-capacity National Arena in Tirana is the first UEFA final ever to be played in Albania; a fitting place for the first ever final of the Conference League. The Stadium did previously host a European Qualifier between Albania and France back in 2019, and Albanian fans will no doubt be eager to visit this amazing stadium once again. The format for Conference League final matches those of the Champions and Europa Leagues, with normal time, two 15-minute periods of extra time, and sudden-death penalties to decide the game if there is no winner after extra time.