Football has heroes and villains, it’s pure theatre and everyone loves a rammy as much as they love a goal, and if you don’t you don’t love football. In this blog we’re going to look at the hatchet men of the elite level of Champions League, where to get close enough to the really top players you have to be a top class at it. So who are the dirtiest teams in Europe’s elite competition?
The Turkish outfit Galatasaray have competed in the Champions League proper 15 times and in that time have managed to amass a whopping 15 red cards in that time. Turkish football is famed for its intimidating fans, red card fuelled derbies and fights on the pitch. This uncompromising style is brought to their European game too. Having a total of 15 red cards in 110 games is quite an achievement.
Arsenal has been regarded as having as a soft centre in recent years, but it wasn’t always that way under Arsene Wenger. They enjoyed 19 consecutive seasons in the Champions League but in that time they saw 17 red cards. The soft centre that is so famous now wasn’t really an issue when Arsenal had players like Patrick Viera, Manu Petit and Ray Parlour.
Inter have always had a cynical element to their play. Their famous 1960s side were experts at the Catenaccio style and there was always been the “professional” style of coaching in Italian football. It’s no surprise then that Inter has chalked up 17 red cards in the competition. What’s also remarkable is that though Inter has the same amount of red cards as Arsenal, they have managed to do it in 65 fewer games. They even managed 4 in the 2007-2008 season where they were eliminated at the last 16.
A team who are regularly in the latter stages of the competition, Bayern don’t have a reputation for being a dirty team, but the stats show something different. They have a total of 18 red cards in the competition. The worst offenders for red cards are Holger Badstuber and Bastien Schweinsteiger.
The Grand Old Lady of Italian football has had their history with referees. In the early 1970s, there were all kinds of allegations of Juventus bribing refs with cash and cars. Brian Clough famously made a point of mentioning this when he was Derby County manager. The culture of buying refs diamond watches is always mentioned when it comes to Juventus and they were relegated for match-fixing in 2006. They have also had their fair accusations of blood doping over the years too. So, with their history of keeping refs in their pocket, it is quite surprising that Juventus are the side with the most Champions League red cards. The Bianconeri have a total of 23 red cards. Not only that but they have set the record for most dismissals in a single season twice – in the 2000-2001 season and 2005-2006 season – when they received 5.