ABBA were singing about the end of a love affair in “The Winner Takes It All”.
But the Swedish popsters could easily have been harmonising about the merits of a good, old-fashioned cup tie!
As far as I’m concerned, you can’t beat watching two teams going toe to toe from kick-off, knowing one will be left facing their Waterloo.
That’s what we seem to be getting in the Champions League now the competition has moved into the knockout stages.
And not before time – because some of the group stage stuff was rotten.
Both Real Madrid’s win over Paris Saint Germain and Tottenham Hotspur’s draw with Juventus in midweek were cracking contests.
There are some mouthwatering ties to follow this week too, with Chelsea up against Barcelona and Manchester United facing Sevilla.
They are the sort of games the Champions League should be about.
Unfortunately, finance and TV dictates that the group stages have to be in there as well, despite the fact they have become totally predictable.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not for doing anything to the competition that would prevent a Scottish club gaining access.
If anything, I’d say it should go back to being a competition for champions only – including the Premiership’s top dog – as it was during my career.
As it is, we have to wait until February to see things really heat up, and that’s not ideal.
But now we’re here, I have to be honest, I’m loving it.
Spurs were right up against it in Turin after going 2-0 down, but showed so much character to earn themselves a 2-2 draw.
It was a fabulous performance – but I don’t think the tie is over yet.
Juve are tried and tested at this level, so Spurs need to be on their guard.
Fortunately for them, they’ve got Harry Kane who seems to absolutely love big occasions. Scotland fans saw it first-hand when he broke our hearts at Hampden in June.
It was all set to be a fairytale for the Scots after Leigh Griffiths’ stunning free-kick double, but then we got Kaned.
There is no question the Spurs man is an absolutely top-class player these days, and the Champions League is just the platform for him.
It’s also the perfect platform for Manchester City.
The more time that passes, the more I believe Pep Guardiola’s side could achieve something genuinely incredible this season.
Nobody is going to stop them in the Premier League. That much is obvious.
They’re also in the final of the League Cup, and face a straightforward tie with Wigan in the FA Cup tomorrow. Their 4-0 advantage over Swiss champions Basel should see them comfortably into the quarter-finals of the Champions League now.
So who’s to say they can’t win the lot? I certainly wouldn’t write them off – and I know how tough it is to compete on multiple fronts.
In 1980/81, I was gunning for league, FA Cup and UEFA Cup glory with Ipswich Town.
We got the UEFA Cup, but only after we had stumbled over the line in the league, finishing second behind Aston Villa, and lost an FA Cup semi-final to Manchester City.
Today’s City side are much better equipped than we were back then.
And if it all comes down to the ultimate Cup tie – the Champions League Final in May – Pep’s side could do worse than sticking that old Abba classic on in the changing-room beforehand!
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