CanMNT star Alphonso Davies won the UEFA Men’s Champions League with Bayern Munich on Sunday, becoming the first Canadian male player to accomplish such a feat. Here is what this means for he, Bayern and Canada, as they all bask in the glow of what was a big triumph for many reasons.
It’ll take a while for it to properly sink in.
For the first time in history, a Canadian Men’s Soccer player lifted the UEFA Men’s Champions League trophy, as Alphonso Davies and Bayern Munich won Europe’s most famous continental competition on Sunday.
In doing so, they became only the 11th side to win the treble (league win, domestic cup win, European Cup win) in history, the 2nd such Bayern side to complete such a feat, as they comfortably cruised to victories in the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal earlier this year.
And Davies played a huge part in that, suiting up in 29 out of 34 games in the league, 5 out of 6 games in the DFB Pokal, and 8 out of 11 games in the Champions League, becoming a key piece of this dominant for this Bayern side.
As a result, he’s paved the way for a whole new generation of Canadian soccer talent, who will be at home looking at the play of Davies for Bayern while thinking: ‘why not me next?’.
So for many reasons, this is a huge victory for Davies and Canadian soccer as a whole, as the country revels in the big triumph from the 19-year-old and his teammates.
Given his young age, as well, you’d figure that this is just the start for the Canadian, so hopefully this can be seen as the beginning of a long and illustrious Champions League career for him.
Bayern etch their place in history
But to truly appreciate the grandeur of Davies’ Champions League triumph with Bayern, it’s important to acknowledge how good this Bayern side was, especially within the context of the Champions League.
With their victory over Paris Saint Germain on Sunday, they became the first-ever team to win every game in one Champions League campaign, as they won all 11 games that they played on route to their triumph in Lisbon.
While they played 2 fewer games than the 13 which is typically required as a minimum to win, as the quarter-finals and semi-finals were played with 1 leg at a neutral venue instead of 2 legs home-and-away due to COVID-19, that’s still a massive feat.
Despite playing teams such as Barcelona, PSG, Chelsea and Tottenham, a pretty impressive list of sides that includes 5 of the last 20 finalists since 2010 (PSG included from Sunday), they’ve cruised through all of their games, winning all but 2 games by more than 2 goals.
They scored an astonishing 43 goals in those 11 games, good for second-best in all-time Champions League history, only behind the Barcelona team of 1999-2000, who scored 45 goals over 16 games.
So when pro-rated to goals per game, this Bayern team blows everyone out of the water with their 3.9 goals per match this campaign, the best-ever tally seen in this competition.
For them to do all of that, win a continental treble and overall rarely look like they were ever troubled in most of their games, that’s dominance, and that’s why this Bayern team will go down in history.
Now, they have the 3rd-most triumphs in Champions League (and European Cup) history, with their 6 titles tied with Liverpool in 3rd, only behind AC Milan with 7 and Real Madrid with 13.
They’ve also tied Barcelona for most trebles, with 2, as they’ve become only the second European men’s team to win the treble twice.
Davies plays a big part in all of that:
For a Canadian to play a big part of that is huge, especially considering how Davies’s big performances in games against Chelsea and Barcelona in the Round of 16 and in the quarter-finals played a huge part in Bayern’s dominant victories over the pair of them.
There’s a reason why he’s in WhoScored’s team of the tournament, as he averaged a 7.8 rating (out of 10) in the 8 games he played, making him the highest-rated left back over the course of the competition.
By averaging 2.3 tackles and 1.1 interceptions per game defensively, along with 1.1 key passes, 3.3 successful dribbles and 1 shot per game offensively, Davies had a noticeable impact for Bayern in the Champions League.
He also added 3 assists in 8 Champions League games, compared to 5 in 24 Bundesliga games, and just overall improved his stats across the board in the Champions League, as he stepped up his game in the big moments for Bayern.
It was expected that the day that a Canadian international would win the Champions League, that player would be on the bench, or playing a complementary role on the team, but instead, Davies threw that notion out of the window, playing a starring role for Bayern this campaign.
And considering that this Bayern team may go down in history as one of the best Champions League teams ever, that’s a pretty big deal, especially when we remember that Davies is only 19, and that his best position is arguably not even at left back.
Yet despite that, he’s made the position his own for Bayern under Hansi Flick, relegating club-record signing Lucas Hernandez, a World Cup winning left back for France in 2018, to the bench for much of this season.
As a result, he’s got people talking about Canada all around the world, with many onlookers taking notice of his strong play with Bayern.
With Canada looking to get back to the Men’s World Cup for the first time in over 34 years, having a player like Davies, a calibre of player they’ve never really had, is going to go a long way towards helping make that happen.
Impact on Canada:
And no doubt, what he’s doing is massively raising the profile of the sport in Canada.
The men’s Champions League is very popular in the country, as people love to watch their favourite teams in the popular competition, so no doubt that Davies’s play caught the eye of several onlookers.
While there were many that already knew him from his days with the Whitecaps, him playing in the Champions League has put him in front of several Canadian eyeballs that probably haven’t seen him play before, with many preferring to watch European competitions instead of MLS.
That’ll be particularly huge for scores of young soccer fans, who will have gotten the chance to see someone come from Edmonton and win the Champions League at only 19 years of age, which could make someone go: ‘why not me?’.
It may then inspire them to go support their local teams, who may play in MLS, the CPL or something of the like, knowing that they may be watching the next big Canadian male superstar, while also hoping to one day play for them.
The greatest part of the Davies story is that he came up through the Canadian system, so young Canadians can look at him and see that someone from Edmonton can do that, so can they.
But even more importantly than that, there’s no doubt that the best is yet to come for Davies.
He’s just getting started with his club career, and he still has a lot to do in his international career, with Canada looking to get back to the World Cup for the first time in over 34 years.
With a player of Davies’s profile leading the way, without mentioning the scores of young talent that are slowly joining him, such as Jonathan David, if Canada’s men’s team can finally make it over that big hump and qualify, that would be equally as big for their program.
Considering that he’s getting this valuable experience abroad, that’ll give them a leg up on some of their CONCACAF foes, many of which who lack the pedigree of someone like Davies.
There are only 3 active CONCACAF players who have won the Champions League, Davies, Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Mariano Diaz of the Dominican Republic, with Davies and Navas the only ones to have actually played in the final(s) that they won.
It’s going to take a team effort for Canada to make it far in World Cup qualifying, as Davies can’t do it all on his own, but having that Champions League experience, of which no one on Mexico or the US can even lay claim to, is going to be a huge resource to tap into.
As a result of all of that, this win is going to have a huge impact on the present, with Canada getting a big boost from Davies’s strong play, but also the future, as well, with many surely looking up at this accomplishment with big dreams swirling around in their heads.
Don’t sleep on the CanWNT stars, either:
But while Canada celebrates Davies’s triumph, don’t sleep on the play of some Canada Women’s National Team stars, who have been quietly making some noise in Europe.
Over the past few years, Kadeisha Buchanan has won the UEFA Women’s Champions League 3 times in a row with Lyon, who are chasing their 5th consecutive title this year, as they find themselves up against Jordyn Huitema’s and Ashley Lawrence’s PSG in the semi-finals on Wednesday.
So for the 4th year in a row, a Canadian will be in the final, which is certainly something that should be talked about more in soccer circles.
It’s less of a surprise to see that stat than you’d think, as Canada is a good women’s team, one that typically has sat in the top 10 in the world, a far cry from the men, who have toiled around in the 100s for years, but it’s still big nonetheless.
Considering that most top North American women’s players have stayed in the NWSL due to the allocation process, which keeps top Canadian National Team and US National Team players in the league for a multitude of reasons, to see the likes of Buchanan, Lawrence and Huitema do big things abroad is huge.
As many more continue to join them there, with Jessie Fleming is now at Chelsea, along with Janine Beckie at Manchester City and Adriana Leon at West Ham, don’t expect this Canadian wave to stop anytime soon.
While everyone is rightfully basking in the glow of Davies’s spectacular victory, don’t forget those who have done it first, and continue to back it up, as Buchanan has done.
Now, it’ll be interesting to see what Davies has up his sleeve for act 2.
Not often that your first Champions League season culminates with you winning a treble as part of one of the most dominant teams of all time, so it’ll be hard to back that up, but after getting a chance to hold ‘old big ears’, the hunger will surely be there to do it again.
As he continues to grow as a player, this a huge moment for him, especially going forward.
For Canada, as a nation, it’s huge, as it’ll inspire a whole new generation of kids to try and emulate what Davies has done.
And along with the Men’s National Team, who will be excited to have the presence of Davies in the fold, it’ll help out Canada a lot, both now and in the future, so stay tuned to see what comes next for Davies and his teammates on their quest to make history.
With Canada’s gold rush really starting to heat up for the men these past few years, there’s a lot for them to accomplish, with Davies’s big triumph just another big moment in what’s starting to be a long line of them for young Canadians.
Cover Photo via: Martin Bayzl/Canada Soccer