By Chris Harris
If you believe the Beatles, money can't buy you love. And on the evidence of this week, it can't buy you the Champions League either.
No club - not even super-rich Manchester City - has spent more in the past 12 months than Real Madrid. The Spanish giants splashed in excess of £200million last summer on Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Raul Albiol, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema and yet, for the sixth year in succession, Madrid have crashed out of the Champions League in the first knockout round.
Arsène Wenger watched Madrid's stellar cast succumb to Lyon 2-1 on aggregate on Wednesday night and you could forgive the Arsenal manager a wry smile - after all, he has taken his team to the Quarter-Finals or beyond in each of the past five seasons despite spending a relative pittance in the transfer market.
Wenger expects Madrid to be a force again before long and, in his opinion, this week’s results prove how tough it is to sustain a place among Europe’s elite.
"In the last five years we have been in the Final, the Semi-Final, two times the Quarter-Final," said Wenger.
"It is the consistency that is the most difficult to achieve at the top level because you have so many teams that want to be in there. When you can just turn up regularly, in England we don't rate that anymore because we are used to it. But it's not easy.
"[Madrid's defeat shows that] £240million doesn't buy you the Champions League necessarily. If you can spend it every year you will get there. But it is the first year of [president Florentino] Perez being back and you have to give him time. He only has to invest again next year, so I think they will be a force again. But at the moment it is difficult to take for them.
"I watched Real Madrid against Lyon. Madrid were a bit unlucky because they had plenty of chances in the first half. They paid for the fact that they had played international games the week before. They had Xabi Alonso suspended and Marcelo suspended, they had no left-back who could bring anything forwards. And Lyon was the better team in the second half.
"What you make is six years going out in the last 16 when you are Real Madrid, it is of course difficult to take. It shows in Europe you have no guarantee."Copyright 2013 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 12 Mar 2010