When it comes to European football competitions, in the past English teams have often given some truly outstanding performances, battling through each stage and showing some true grit in an attempt to get their hands on those illustrious UEFA trophies. Historically speaking, English clubs like Liverpool enjoyed unparalleled success in Europe throughout the 70’s and 80’s, coupled with unforgettable nights in Istanbul and Barcelona to name a few occasions in more recent times. However, over the past 5 years in particular, England’s elite have fallen well behind their European rivals and nobody has been able to say with 100% certainty why.
So why is it now that English football seems to be failing in big European competitions? The talent is certainly there for some of the Premier League’s big boys and the thrill and excitement of the Premier League is unlike any other football league in the world. The fact is that back in 2013 (when not one English club managed to even reach the quarter final stages) it marked the first time this had happened in 17 long years. Fast forward to the present and on 2 separate occasions over the past 3 seasons no English team has made it further than the last 8 and that’s a major concern for English football.
There are a number of factors that appear to have influenced this untimely downfall and it’s most likely due to increasing competition from European counterparts and the rise in the quality and standards of other Euro-based teams, particularly in the style of possession football even the supposed ‘weaker’ teams are now adopting. Both Germany and France have historically struggled in Europe but those two Nations now boast 2 of the richest clubs in the game in PSG and Bayern Munich respectively; where once the Premier League was home to exclusive money-bags, players now have more options and a lot of heads have been turned by the bright lights of Paris and co.
The days when the Premier League was proud to proclaim that the very best players in the world resided on English shores are no longer. Former Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo is on another planet at Madrid and, as usual, Argentine magician Lionel Messi is consistently performing at Barcelona; the top quality on show at European level is immense and English clubs are losing out particularly when big Premier League names such as Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale are being sold to rival leagues.
Attitudes towards Uefa’s Europa League has also been touted as a possible reason why English teams are getting found out with some clubs publically admitting that they would rather sit out the competition entirely. Whilst the Europa League is far from perfect, surely it helps players develop the skills needed to overcome tricky European opponents. It has long been said, and emphatically proved by the national team, that English clubs are technically inferior to many of their continental rivals, so ignore this competition at your peril.
As for English representation in the Champions League, maybe it’s time for qualifying clubs to adopt a different approach; drop the obvious arrogance possessed by this country’s elite when playing supposedly ‘smaller’ teams and get back to basics. Arsenal could certainly look to adopt a more measured approached as their gung- ho performances are far from getting them close to winning the ultimate prize.
A Winter break could also go a long way in helping to turn around the fortunes of English clubs in Europe but whether that concept will ever be implemented is the subject of much debate.
All this being said, a quick glance at sites like bet hut and you’ll find that most of England’s elite are being tipped to do well in the Champions League this term. If recent history is to go by then expect more failure, but only time will tell.