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The Lesser of Evils: who to root for in the Champions League final


Now that the dust from the Premier League season is settled and Arsenal's next match is far beyond our horizons, it's time to turn our focus to things that don't matter that much, like the Champions League final.

I'm only half-kidding. Because we managed (somehow) to finish third in the Premier League, Arsenal are permanently and irrevocably qualified for next year's Biggest Club Football Competition in the World (TM) and because of that, we don't really have to care who wins. Which is nice, right?

But we're all football fans, and this is the last club match until August, so we're probably going to end up watching it anyway. So the question is, who are we (Arsenal fans, that is) rooting for? Well, it's complicated, and there's a decent case to be made for both teams.

The Case for Bayern Munich

I have to admit that this is the side I'm leaning toward (and based on the brief conversation we had during this week's soon-to-be-released Fusillade, I believe it's a consensus among The Short Fuse's writing staff). My reasoning is simple: I don't like John Terry.

I know this is a bit petty, but it's sports, and everything is petty. We celebrate a holiday based around being better than Tottenham, for goodness' sake. I find the man reprehensible in about as many ways as a person can, and if he lifts the Champions' Cup at the end of that game (which according to BBC, he will do even though he will miss the game due to a red card suspension), I may be sick.

Beyond that, there are more (slightly) less childish reasons to root for Bayern Munich. Chelsea are one of our nearest rivals and neighbors, and honestly it's okay to root against them winning just for that reason. Personally I'd vastly prefer Arsenal over Chelsea as London's first European champions, and while the chances of that happening in the immediate future aren't exactly high, that doesn't mean I want them to beat us to it now.

All of these reasons so far are really reasons to root against Chelsea, but there's a good reason to root for Bayern Munich (and there is a difference): they're an exciting team that should be fun to watch. And teams like that are fun to root for, even if only for a day. And Ben Schneider's a Bayern supporter, so why not give him a bit of a lift?

The Case for Chelsea

There are really two reasons to root for Chelsea; one about as petty as mine for going the other way, and the other a bit more noble. The first is that it negatively affects Tottenham. As we all know, Spurs finished fourth in the league (one spot behind us, HAHA) and thus also qualified for the Champions League, as they did a couple of years back. But if Chelsea (sixth) win the final, they automatically qualify for the competition for next season regardless of their (sub-par) league position. Which leaves Spurs out in the cold.

After a season of hearing about how The Power In North London Had Shifted, after being told again and again that Arsenal were crap and Spurs were title challengers, after the turmoil and mockery -- it would be a bit of sweet poetic justice if Arsenal were in the Champions League in 2012-13 and Tottenham were not.

And really, Spurs (as far as I can tell) need the money from Champions League participation more than Chelsea do, so it's a pragmatic thing too: Spurs could be financially wounded by missing on the CL two years in a row, and Chelsea probably wouldn't be. Why not get one top-four rival out of the way?

Also, Chelsea are an English club from the Premier League. With the Bundesliga and Serie A no longer really demonstrably inferior to England's top competition, it would be a nice bit of prestige for Premier League club to win the Champions League. Even better, they've beaten a top Italian team (Napoli) and a top Spanish team (Barcelona) to get to this point; adding a Bundesliga pelt to their set would make a real statement. So if league prestige is a thing that you care about (ed. note: I don't, at all), you should probably go with Chelsea to champion English football against continental opposition.

The Verdict:

Honestly I can't make up my mind. I really don't like either Chelsea or Spurs (I'm mostly ambivalent when it comes to Bayern Munich), and if it were down to just who I want to suffer ill tidings more, I'd probably choose Tottenham, but I really hate the idea of Chelsea winning the Champions League. Probably the most logical choice for me is to root for Bayern Munich and then hope that Spurs lose in their qualifying match. That's basically the best of both worlds for Arsenal.

But based on my personal existential crisis over this, it's pretty clear that opinions will differ. So what does everyone think, do we support Bayern Munich (and by extension Tottenham) or Chelsea (and by extension racists and oil money)? It's a lose-lose scenario! There shall be a poll, and a debate in the comments. Go forth.