As the round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League kicks off tonight when Paris Saint-Germain faces Chelsea FC and Shakhtar Donetsk welcomes FC Bayern Munich, football (soccer) fans worldwide will be witnessing yet another example of football’s penetrative force to produce global sports heroes.
The competitive edge of the UEFA Champions League is the extravagant display of top quality players in the most popular sport in the global sports landscape combined with nature of the celebrated tournament’s ‘knock-out’ phase. The latter means that the round of 16 reflects the cynical and symbolic life of elite sports in which winning is the ultimate parameter for success; either you win and proceed to the quarterfinals or you have to return to a reality outside the sporting and economic paradise of the UEFA Champions League. In other words, UEFA Champions League success has the capability to transform the sporting and financial positioning of any football club.
The pinnacle of this year’s tournament is the final in Berlin. The production of global football super stars is very much aligned with success in the finest club competition so the tournament is synonymous with prestige and success and thus feature much potential for sports framing and storytelling, e.g. the contrast between success or failure, the metaphor of poor form, and the myths of former legendary players. The successful team and individual player performances are central in producing new meaning and in expressing football fandom, which transcends beyond live television and in-venue audiences and into football consumption and other brand consumption through multiple outlets. In addition, the knock-out phase of the UEFA Champions League presents a perfect theatre to offer various portrayals of exclusive content featuring the world’s best clubs and players. This links to overall team or player performances over the entire span of the match or to the goals scored or conceded, chances of qualification vs. winning vs. losing, the David vs. Goliath stories, or the form of players and teams from round to round. The scope of creative opportunities is wide-ranging given the amount of statistics and media portrayals of modern-day professional footballers and this interactive environment helps to boost the immersive idolization of professional super stars while the reinforced importance of winning enhances this process of football hero production.
Below, there is a detailed infographic that adds information about the performances of the remaining 16 teams, including a prediction for each of the remaining 8 matches.
Infographic: UEFA Champions League round of 16 infographic, 2014/2015 season (source: GuaranteeTickets).