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The most exciting season of European football ever?

The Champions League has unwittingly provided the prospect of potentially the most exciting finale to European club football ever this season.

With Manchester's two clubs having to face up to the reality of an early Champions League exit, it has increased interest in the Europa League not just in England but around the world.

It's a long shot, but we could even see all-Manchester and all-London European finals this season. 

With United, City and David Villa (pictured) out of the Champions League, Arsenal and Chelsea might not get a better opportunity to win the Champions League this season. Barca, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich are likely to have something to say about that though.

What price English domination?

Bookmakers William Hill are offering 33-1 on a Chelsea v Arsenal Champions League final and they reckon an all-Manchester final is a realistic possibility, offering just 16-1. 

But let's not rule out Barca for another Champions League triumph just yet. Villa's broken leg was a shock to the club and a blow for Spain, but a genuine disappointment for football fans around the world who rate him as one of the world's best players.

Now, potentially, we'll get to see just how good Barcelona really are without one of the star men. Barca are the 'new Ajax' in terms of being able to bring replacements in seamlessly.

And don't rule out Spanish dominance in Europe. If it's not Barca it could well be Real Madrid for the Champions League - and Europa League favourites Manchester City and second favourites Manchester United will not be underestimating Valencia and Atletico Madrid. 

While - in theory - we could have four English clubs represented in the two finals (William Hill offer 500-1 for that eventuality), it's also not beyond the realms of possibility that Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia and Atletico will provide the Spanish equivalent of that scenario, with 4-1 for a Barca v Real Champions League final, 40-1 for a Valencia v Atletico Europa League final and 200-1 for both.

The odds were accurate at the time of writing but, with the threat of a FIFA ban on Swiss clubs meaning that Manchester United could have an unexpected route back into the Champions League, they are likely to have already changed by the time you have read this.

By Mark Roach


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