It’s a simple question, but not necessarily simple to answer.
Most critics would consider the UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League winner to be the best team in the world on account of what the tourney represents regarding skill level.
UEFA Champions League consists of a yearly tourney among the best European teams. They must qualify for entry to the tournament.
At this point in international soccer, there is little argument that more great teams exist in Europe than anywhere else in the world. But, are these teams better than the World Cup winner?
In other words, would Spain beat the teams in the semi-finals vying to capture the UEFA title this year?
This is an argument that can never be answered except maybe with a computer software video game. Even then, it would be difficult because so many of the Spanish national team play for Barcelona and Real Madrid.
It is just a question to ask to understand how sports fans should rank the UEFA Champions League tourney.
Is World Cup soccer the best in the world or is UEFA Champions League?
This is a separate question concerning the bigger picture of comparing the two tournaments for skill level.
The most obvious difference is that the World Cup is only played every four years, while UEFA Champions is played annually. So, can any real comparison be made for the three years in which WC is not being played?
The defending WC champion Spanish national team was one of the most brilliant teams to win the WC in recent decades because of the precision and speed with which they played. They most resemble Barcelona in style of play.
Due to Messi’s ability though, many experts would say that Barcelona is the superior team over the Spanish national team; but what about the other semi-finalists?
Chelsea, Bayern Munich, and Real Madrid are all playing extremely well and deserve to be contenders. Arguments can be made that if they win this year, they are the best soccer team in the world, better than the WC winner of 2010, too.
There could be a couple of South American squads with something to say about all of this best team in the world business too, but their only answer can come at FIFA Club WC. Since its inception though, FIFA Club WC doesn’t seem to compare much to UEFA Champions League.
The critics would say that many more great teams play the UEFA Champions League, making it more prestigious and harder to win.
What do you think?
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com