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Drab Champions League final continues trend of dismal domestic duels | Richard Williams

Teams who face each other domestically always struggle to produce the kind of showpiece expected from the most eagerly anticipated night of the season

If you wanted to decrease the level of global interest in the climactic match of a European club competition by, say, 50%, you might very well contrive to ensure that both finalists came from the same national football league. If you wanted to cut the interest by another 50% – in other words, to 25% of the normally expected level – you might arrange for a goal to be scored via a penalty awarded within the opening 30 seconds.

That was the combination of circumstances endured by neutrals on Saturday night, when two teams thoroughly conversant with each other’s make-up and methods met in Madrid and the match was punctured like a cheap ball within a couple of minutes when Mohamed Salah’s spot-kick rather luckily evaded Hugo Lloris’s dive. What we ended up with was a quarter of what a European Cup final should be.

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