With the return of the most exciting soccer tournament on the planet, Nissan, official global automotive sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, has uncovered the moments, players and teams Europeans are most excited to see this season.
The second annual Nissan Excitement Index has kicked off by revealing Leicester City FC's arrival into the tournament is the most anticipated moment across Europe (50 percent). However, despite the excitement around the English club's debut in the competition, only 1 percent of fans believe they actually stand a chance of winning the coveted trophy.
When asked to select their top three players, Cristiano Ronaldo, who scored the decisive penalty in last season's final in Milan and picked up the UEFA Best Player in Europe award, was also voted by Europeans as the most exciting player (55 percent). He overtook FC Barcelona rival Lionel Messi – the favorite from 2015 – who was voted second most exciting (45 percent). UEFA Euro 2016's player of the tournament, Antoine Greizmann, was selected as the third most exciting (33 percent).
Following a busy summer on the transfer market, the Nissan Excitement Index also asked Europeans to share the top three movements that got them most excited. Alvaro Morata's arrival at Real Madrid CF and Gonzalo Higuain's transfer to Juventus FC were jointly selected (40 percent) as the most thrilling transfers of the summer. They were closely followed by Mario Gotze's shift from FC Bayern Munich to Borussia Dortmund (35 percent).
When it came to predictions for the forthcoming season, Europeans believed FC Barcelona (23 percent) will triumph over their rivals Real Madrid CF (19 percent) when it comes to lifting the famous trophy in Cardiff next June.
Research ahead of the new season has highlighted that winning the UEFA Champions League is deemed more exciting (29 percent) than getting engaged (16 percent), graduating (24 percent) or securing promotion or pay rise (21 percent). One in 10 even claimed they would miss the birth of their own child if it meant making it to a UEFA Champions League match.
Throughout the course of the upcoming season Nissan, will continue to delve into the science of what makes soccer so exciting. After partnering with sports science experts at Loughborough University during the 2015-16 season to create a scientific formula for an exciting soccer match, Nissan will continue to share data on the goals, players and games which keep us on the edge of our seat, whilst continuing to explore the science behind excitement with Loughborough University's team of experts.
"At Nissan, we are dedicated to bringing innovation and excitement to everyone, and as we get ready to kick off our third season in the UEFA Champions League this has never been more relevant," said Jean-Pierre Diernaz, vice president for Marketing, Nissan Europe. "Throughout the coming months, our aim is continuing fueling soccer fan excitement in a truly innovative way via our partnership with Loughborough University. In addition to the work we have done on excitement in soccer, we're also keen to look at excitement off the pitch, related to some of the new Nissan models we are launching this year. In addition we'll also be adding new 'engineers of excitement' to our team and continuing to use innovative social media platforms to engage with fans. We are excited to get started on what we're sure will be another truly memorable season."
Nissan Excitement Index 2.0 - Summary of key results:
Europeans agree – Cristiano Ronaldo is the most exciting player
Overall, Europeans considered Cristiano Ronaldo (55 percent), Lionel Messi (45 percent) and Antoine Griezmann (33 percent) to be the most exciting players from last season of the UEFA Champions League, when asked to select their top three. 2016 has seen a decline in excitement for Lionel Messi – the favorite in 2015 with 69 percent agreeing – in place of Cristiano Ronaldo, who also recently won the UEFA Best Player in Europe award.
In the UK, almost half (47 percent) considered Gareth Bale to be most exciting (25 percent EU average), while 22 percent of Germans thought Julian Draxler was most exciting (7 percent EU average) and one in four (24 percent) Spaniards considered Luis Suarez to be one of the most exciting players (15 percent EU average)
Leicester City FC's arrival is the most anticipated moment
When it comes to the upcoming season, the most anticipated moment for Europeans overall is seeing Leicester City FC play in the tournament for the first time – one in two agree they're excited about this (50 percent).
Despite their excitement, only 1 percent of Europeans think that Leicester City FC stand a chance at winning
Those in France (50 percent) and Spain (47 percent) are most excited about seeing Real Madrid CF's first game as defending champions
The youngest demographic – 18-24 year olds – are the most excited about hearing the UEFA Champions League anthem for the first time (55 percent), fifteen points higher than the average
Morata and Higuain – the most exciting transfers of the summer
On average, Europeans are most excited about seeing Alvaro Morata transfer to Real Madrid CF (40 percent) and Gonzalo Higuain to Juventus FC (40 percent).
However, those in Germany were less excited about these transfers – unsurprisingly, they're most excited for German teams: Mario Gotze's transfer to Borussia Dortmund (82 percent), and the arrival of Mats Hummels (81 percent) and Renato Sanches (67 percent) at FC Bayern Munich
In Italy, over half of respondents are excited about Miralem Pjanic coming to Juventus FC (57 percent) – 36 points higher than the average for all Europeans
FC Barcelona – Champions in Cardiff?
European soccer fans believe FC Barcelona will take home the UEFA Champions League trophy this season (23 percent)
However, those in Germany are rooting for their home nation teams: 45 percent think that FC Bayern Munich will win (17 percent EU average), and 13 percent think Borussia Dortmund are in with a chance (4 percent EU average)
This home nation support is seen across markets: one in 10 in the UK think Arsenal FC will win this season (10 percent), and one in five in France think Paris Saint-Germain will (20 percent), above the European average in both cases
About Nissan in Sport
The UEFA Champions League partnership is another example of Nissan's dedication and growth in global sports which also includes the International Cricket Council (ICC), Nissan Brazil's proud sponsorship of the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Team Brazil and Brazil Paralympic Delegation, official sponsorship of the Colombia and Mexico Olympic Teams in their respective regions, Team GB and Paralympics GB in the UK, Orange Africa Cup of Nations 2013 and 2015, NCAA Soccer, Canadian Soccer League, corporate partner for Heisman Trust/Heisman Trophy and the official global automotive partner of City Soccer Group. In addition, Nissan has a number of sporting ambassadors including Andrés Iniesta. Outside of soccer, Nissan is making exciting advances in technology, engineering and styling. This is demonstrated in the world's best-selling electric vehicle, the Nissan LEAF, and Nissan GT-R supercar.