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Your SB Nation Guide to Champions League Bandwagoning

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Well guys, with today’s pair of entirely predictable Champions League results, the scene is set for a captivating pair of semifinal ties. Unfortunately, Borussia Dortmund were knocked during the group stage. That doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy the matches!

We’ve compiled a definitive guide to choosing a club that matches your interests. Helping us are three representatives from the SBN Sites of Liverpool, Bayern, and Real Madrid, along with a mystery writer representing Roma. They’ve eached prepared pitches to get you to root for their respective sides. Without further ado, let’s begin!

#1: Liverpool

Featuring Noel Chomyn from the Liverpool Offside

Right, I mean, this all seems a little too obviously in the bag for us, but let’s hold back on the obvious and circle back around. From the other obvious part.

Namely the one where you’re all looking over at Bayern Munich. And while rooting for another club from your league might be a thing every now and then, or at least I’m told it can be, it isn’t when you’re Borussia Dortmund and they’re Bayern Munich who’ve probably signed another three Dortmund players to pre-contracts while you’ve been reading this. So. Bayern have to be out of the running. It’d be like us rooting for United—it’s just not going to happen and anyone even considering it’s getting some serious side-eye.

Then there’s Real Madrid, who already have 37 Champions Leagues and European Cups in their pocket and have won every iteration of the competition this decade and, I mean, does anybody want to see them winning one for their right pinky toe or whatever they’re actually up to now? And they have Ronaldo. Does any neutral actually want Ronaldo to be happy about anything ever? That’s what I thought. Plus there’s Florentino Perez and the whole Franco’s club thing and, come on, not even Zidane’s rugged bald head is making up for all that.

As for Roma, I mean, sure they’re not obviously offensive like the other two, but they’re also not winning the damn thing, and if you’re not going to root for the favourites—because they’re Bayern and Madrid and, I mean, come on—you at least want an underdog with a shot. And upset of Barca aside, Roma aren’t that—they may have finished first in a group with Atleti and Chelsea but their record against them was two draws and two losses. They got first by beating up on Qarabağ and riding their luck. In the Round of 16 they got Shakhtar and eked through on away goals. They’re barely fourth in Serie A and have had a grand total of one good game in the Champions League. The only reason anyone thinks they have a chance is recency bias.

So. Liverpool, then. A relative underdog but still in with an actual chance—fifth overall in 538’s rankings compared to Roma’s 12th—who got their own easy knockout draw with Porto but put on a demolition job before sending City out 5-1 on aggregate and being the better side for three out of four quarters in that one. A dynamic, exciting attack and Mo Salah’s smile. Fans who sing You’ll Never Walk Alone. And also the first most obvious point. Namely Jürgen Norbert Klopp. So. I mean. How is this even a question, really?

#2: Real Madrid

Featuring Om Arvind from Managing Madrid

I’m not aware of any animosity between Dortmund and Madrid fans, but I do understand how it may be hard to root for us. You’re used to being the underdogs; to battling against financial mega-giants that buy their way to the top. Hence, in many ways, Real Madrid’s philosophy and methods are antithetical to the way Borussia Dortmund go about their business. However, I believe there is one key comparison between us that makes Madrid an attractive club to root for: we both have one of the greatest players of all time on our team.

Cristiano Ronaldo Dos Santos is a figure that can barely be described by words. He’s the all-time top scorer for Real Madrid, the all-time top scorer and assister in the Champions League, and one of the most clutch players in history. He’s conquered everything that can be won in the sport – bar the World Cup – and he’s been an inspiration for millions of people worldwide.

Christian Pulisic is Christian Pulisic.

These two figures’ similarities also transcend football, as they both share a first name (this is probably the most important reason to support us) and are revered as Gods in their home country.

But in case having the Portuguese version of Pulisic isn’t enough reason to root for Madrid, let’s examine the flaws of the other options.

Bayern Munich

LOL.

Roma

Roma are the plucky underdogs of their group. They completed an improbable comeback vs. Barcelona, demonstrating immense spirit and tactical nous in their 3-0 win. But let’s be real. They’re unlikely to beat Liverpool and the in-form Mohammed Salah. Even if they do, they’re almost definitely not going to beat giants Bayern or Real in the finals.

It might be fun to go against the grain for a couple minutes, but when it comes down to the crucial moments, it’s more fun to support the winners.

Liverpool

There’s literally nothing about this team that makes them an attractive choice for Dortmund fans. They rely on geggenpressing and blazing transition attacks to win games, base their success on an ultra-talented goal scorer, and have a cult of personality manager named Jurgen Klopp.

Oh shit.

Yeah, I see it now.

Hmmm… this is tough.

Oh, wait – I’ve got it! Liverpool already have fans. Sure, you can support the team that’s basically the English version of Klopp’s Dortmund, but you’ll be surplus to requirements. On the other hand, Madrid have a desperate need for passionate and committed supporters. The Bernabeu has been filled with rival fans for decades, leaving the atmosphere filled with whistling and booing. It would be nice to have some cheering and singing for a change.

#3 AS Roma

Featuring a Mystery Writer (the Chiesa di Totti folks were not reached in time)

First off all, I’d just like to start off by saying how awesome BVB is. That yellow wall: quite a sight, am I right? Surely the best football fans in Germany deserve a club that has truly earned the right to be bandwagoned upon. Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Bayern are all formidable opponents, but let’s be honest for a second. If there’s one cinderella story in this Champions League tournaments, it’s Roma.

Did we mention that we beat Barcelona? BARCA-FREAKING-LONA??? And we did it by erasing a three-goal aggregate lead? That’s stuff of legend, and I think it earned us a bit of support from neutral fans going forward.

I, the mystery writer, do not follow the Bundesliga that much, but even I know that BVB fans are some of the most passionate in the world. If you love passionate fans, I’ll show you passion:

Let’s be real: this is between Liverpool and Roma. Nobody likes Real Madrid, and nobody likes Bayern Munich, least of all you guys. And when it comes to Liverpool: look, I get it. They’re fast. They score lots of goals. They’ve got Salah... da da da da da da... Mané Mané da da da da da da... god damn, that’s catchy.

Anyway, I get it. Jurgen Klopp is a Dortmund legend, but here’s the thing: Klopp isn’t with BVB anymore. He’s in England, managing an English club. Can you imagine the English media if Liverpool go through? Try really hard to imagine the endless, insufferable championing from Jamie Redknapps, Steven Gerrards, and Gary Nevilles of the world if Liverpool go through?

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And last but not least:

#4: Bayern Munich

Featuring John Dillon of Bavarian Football Works

Dortmund fans cheer for Bayern? Believe me, I know that’s a tough sell, but let me take a look at the competition before I make my case to my skeptical Bundesliga brethren.

If you think Bayern is bad, Real Madrid is gross. The “Galacticos” are angling for their third consecutive Champions League trophy. They are the epitome of “everyone loves a winner.” Madrid were the second most valuable club with the second highest revenue last season (a hair behind Manchester United), and probably will be the first after this season given their recent Champions League success. The worst part of it is that UEFA is one of their biggest fans. It’s good for them to hype Real and rake in the profits. The orgy for Ronaldo just drags on and on and on. I don’t know why I’m still arguing—no BVB fan in his right mind would cheer for Ronaldo. These guys need to go down. Moving on.

Liverpool—and of course your old friend Jürgen Klopp. Even I feel slightly conflicted about Liverpool, because I like Klopp and his style of soccer. But he’s not coaching in Germany anymore: he’s a Premier League coach, and he’s coaching one of the “big five” Premier League teams. If any one thing has destabilized the landscape of European soccer, it is the Premier League’s fabulous wealth, buoyed by absurd broadcasting revenue, and their reliance on brand recognition. The drain has been real: Gundogan to Manchester City, Mkhitarian to United (now Arsenal), and of course Aubameyang’s ugly move to Arsenal. Heck, Arsenal even bought out your chief scout Sven Mislintat for €2 million! The Premier League is our common enemy.

As for Roma, well, I’ll give you a pass if you want to cheer for them. They knocked out Barca, UEFA’s other favorite club! How cool is that? But I will be very, very surprised if they win the Champions League.

So Bayern: ugh. I know: and believe me, I understand. Yes, Lewandowski left, and we signed Hummels away, but what can I say? Signing players from other Bundesliga clubs is something we both do. And that brings me to my point: I ultimately think Dortmund fans have good reason to set aside their rivalry with Bayern when it comes to the Champions League, because there is in fact more that unites Bayern and Dortmund than divides us, especially when we are talking about contending with the likes of Real Madrid and Liverpool (Roma, of course, is a different bestia). Like you, Bayern are trying very hard to tread water in this rapidly inflating transfer market driven by billionaires, EPL TV rights, and unlimited cash from Arabian monarchies. Bayern faces the same pressures as Dortmund. The struggle is real, and despite our domestic rivalry Bayern actually want Dortmund and other top German clubs to be strong contenders in the Bundesliga and in Europe. So even if you don’t want to cheer for Bayern, cheer for the Bundesliga. We’re in this together.

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Well, we hope you enjoyed this. Thanks to all the SBN writers and our mystery guest who pitched in on this project. Who will you guys be rooting for? Leave your comments below.