To compare and contrast is basic human nature. When it comes to football, comparisons are made between teams, players and the emergence of a new player sees him tagged as the next Messi, the next Ronaldo and so on.
Comparison definitely helps one draw parallels and find areas of improvement. On the flip side, it can lead to unnecessary pressure and bending of facts. Nonetheless, comparisons are a very important tool in providing a basic understanding and everyone has a special interest in making comparisons across different fields.
Just like how Sachin Tendulkar in cricket is considered the equivalent of Roger Federer in tennis or Lionel Messi in football, parallels can be drawn between teams as well.
Currently, India is being dominated by a mega cricketing wave, called the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The IPL format involves cricket teams functioning like football clubs, right from the names and dugouts to the drama owing to the shorter length of a T20 game.
The IPL, in its tenth edition, has six teams who have taken part since the tournament’s inception and two teams who are entering their 2nd season. So, enough time has passed for most of the teams to establish their identities. These teams can be compared to football clubs across the world depending on the similarities they possess.
Without further ado, here are eight football teams and their IPL equivalents.
#1 Liverpool – Kings XI Punjab
Liverpool in the English Premier League are a huge club with a global following and great history. However, they have not won a league title since 1990 and while they have put up a fight every now and then, the wait continues.
Kings XI Punjab, based out of Mohali in Punjab, carry the pride of the state and since their formation, have always been in and around without ever threatening to win the IPL. Just like Liverpool, they came very close to winning the league in 2014, led by stunning performances from Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
Liverpool embarked on a title run in the 2013/14 season, led by the genius of Luis Suarez.
However, both teams fell at the final hurdle and are once again rebuilding their respective sides to win the elusive title. Another common factor is the lack of star local players on both sides.
Liverpool’s academy has been budding with talent for a while now, but there has not been a single star player emerging since the days of Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen. Likewise, Punjab boasted of the services of one of the greatest Indian cricketers in Yuvraj Singh in the beginning, but currently they are reliant on foreign recruits such as David Miller, Marcus Stoinis and Eoin Morgan to propel the team.
#2 Shanghai SIPG – Rising Pune Supergiant
Shanghai SIPG Football Club are a recent phenomenon, founded in 2005, and have gained popularity in recent years due to the aggressive stance taken by the Chinese government to popularize football in China.
Rising Pune Supergiant are in their sophomore season and are a young team who were formed only because the IPL decided to expand the tournament. However, they are yet to click as a unit and win the league despite having one of the most expensive squads with players such as MS Dhoni, Steve Smith, Faf du Plessis and Ajinkya Rahane.
Shanghai are yet to win the Chinese Super League despite being the third-most valuable club and signing players such as Hulk and Ricardo Carvalho. The club’s coach, Andre Villas-Boas, pulled off one of the most expensive transfers in signing Oscar from Chelsea in order to improve the team’s chances of winning the league.
Similarly, Pune signed one of the best all-rounders in the world, Ben Stokes, for a whopping 14.5 crore to improve the team’s performances this season. So, it remains to be seen whether both the team’s fortunes change this year and whether the huge signings make the desired impact.
#3 Arsenal – Delhi Daredevils
Arsenal are one of the top teams in England, famous for consistently finishing in the top 4 of the Premier League every season. However, over the past decade, their performances have never lived up to the expectations that the squad and its quality evoke.
Delhi Daredevils in the IPL are a similar story. Right from the first season, they always have signed good players and before the season starts, the team looks well-balanced on paper, similar to Arsenal.
Both teams spend a good amount on acquiring top players – Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil at Arsenal and Dinesh Karthik at Delhi Daredevils. However, when the season unfolds, they stutter and eventually fail to muster a decent challenge for the title.
Bad luck and injuries do play a part – South African duo Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy are out for this season for DD while Santi Cazorla was ruled out for Arsenal.
Another similarity is that both teams have reputed heads leading them. Arsenal are led by Arsene Wenger, one of the most respected men in the sport, although fans want him out in light of the performances in recent years.
Delhi Daredevils were led by South African, Gary Kirsten previously, who coached India to victory in the 50-over World Cup in 2011, and now by “The Wall” Rahul Dravid, with both commanding immense respect in the game.
#4 Real Madrid – Mumbai Indians
Real Madrid are a football powerhouse in Europe with a massive financial clout and global fanbase. They are known for their success as well as for being home to some of the best players in the world such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez.
Mumbai Indians are a cricketing powerhouse in the IPL and are backed by Mukesh Ambani, one of the richest businessmen in the world. They have won the league twice in 2013 and 2015 and are known for having some of the world’s best T20 players such as Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga.
Mumbai Indians have won the Champions League T20 two times, more than any other IPL team, similar to Real Madrid, who have won the Champions League 11 times, more than any other team in the competition.
Further, both teams have a penchant for buying the flavour of the year during the transfer window/auction. Madrid have a history of constantly obtaining the world’s best players with Luis Ronaldo, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez all signing for the Spanish giants.
Mumbai Indians have shown the same appetite for signing the best players in the auction through their purchases of Richard Levi, Jos Buttler and many more over the years.
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Moreover, both teams are led by captains who always step up on big occasions and deliver. Sergio Ramos is known for scoring important goals for Madrid and Rohit Sharma enjoys performing in the crunch moments for Mumbai Indians.
#5 Manchester United – Kolkata Knight Riders
Manchester United are one of the most successful teams in England and have built their success on a strong core of home-grown players such as Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Gary Neville, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney.
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Kolkata Knight Riders are one of the three teams to have won the IPL twice, making them one of the most successful sides and their success is also built on a core of Indian players in Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla and Umesh Yadav.
United, under Sir Alex Ferguson, took a few years to get going just like KKR, who struggled to compete in the initial years. Further, both teams are loved dearly by their respective fanbases but are mostly hated by all other fans in the league.
Manchester United are hated by fans of rival clubs Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal. Similarly, KKR do not own a soft spot in the hearts of the fans of other IPL teams.
#6 RB Leipzig – Gujarat Lions
RB Leipzig were founded by energy drink manufacturer Red Bull in 2009, which makes the team brand new when compared to the other teams across the globe who were founded more than 100 years ago.
Gujarat Lions are one of the two new clubs in the IPL, having played their first season only last year. Despite it being their first year, they performed splendidly to top the IPL table, only to falter in the playoffs and not even make the finals.
RB Leipzig made a terrific start to their first season in the Bundesliga this time around as they topped the table ahead of perennial contenders Bayern Munich for a few games, but have wilted in recent months and now are some way off the top of the table.
Leipzig have a group of good players in Naby Keita, Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg who have been scouted by all the top teams. Similarly, Gujarat Lions have a strong group of players that every T20 team would love to have in Dwayne Bravo, James Faulkner, Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina.
#7 Paris Saint-Germain – Royal Challengers Bangalore
Paris Saint-Germain are the dominant team in France and consist of one of the most expensive squads in Europe with players such as Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and Thiago Silva.
Royal Challengers Bangalore are one of the top teams in the IPL and boast of some of the top players in the world across all formats in Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle and Shane Watson. However, they constantly fall short of winning the elusive title, despite thrilling fans all over the world with their exciting brand of cricket.
PSG face a similar problem, having failed to win the highly-coveted Champions League. Despite playing well to beat one of the best teams in Europe 4-0 in the first leg this season, they crumbled in the second leg to exit the tournament.
Both the teams will be hoping that lady luck will smile on them for once so that they can win their respective titles.
#8 Atletico Madrid – Sunrisers Hyderabad
This is a comparison between two extremely robust teams known for a very specific skill set. Atletico Madrid are the third best team in Spain behind Real Madrid and Barcelona and are famous for breaking the Madrid-Barca duopoly despite functioning with smaller financial reserves. They even won the league with a well-oiled team and reached the finals of the Champions League twice.
Sunrisers Hyderabad are run by sound owners and have a specific team composition with a proper strategy and they beat the heavyweights in the league last season to win the IPL. The team is built around a strong bowling unit that can defend any total and are very tough to beat at home.
Atletico Madrid are similar in terms of having one of the best defences in Europe and are also very difficult to beat at home.
Another similarity is that just like Atletico are led by a superstar forward in Antoine Griezmann who is the main man for scoring goals, Sunrisers Hyderabad are led by swashbuckling Australian opener, David Warner, who scores the bulk of the runs for the team and leads from the front.