George Way 98
The English in Europe – a sorry sight for the ‘best league in the world’.
01 Mar, 2014 10:18 PM GMT
'The best league in the world’; that is how many describe the Barclays Premier League, due to its high intensity in comparison to the clashes across the rest of Europe. In spite of this, it is fair to say in the first legs of the knockout rounds on Europe’s main stage, English clubs have put in at best average performances, with none of them emerging with a victory.
Many would argue that Manchester City and Arsenal played two of the best teams in the world at the moment; nevertheless, both were put back in their place, without really putting up that much of a fight. Again, I go back to those who dub ours as the best league in the world, and question the truth behind these claims; the best we have to offer have been taught a lesson in class by other clubs across Europe.
Furthermore, the other two English teams competing in Europe both walked away from away ties with a less than favourable result. Starting with the better of the results, Chelsea couldn’t manage any more than a 1-1 draw with Galatasary in Turkey. Whilst they go into the reverse tie with an away goal in hand, Galatasary should be treated with caution, and a ticket to the next round could go to either side.
Meanwhile, in Greece, David Moyes’ Manchester United slumped to another defeat, their first in Europe however. The form they carried through the group stage was perhaps the brightest spark of hope for the United season, but this ambition of glory was dealt a major blow, when the devils failed to beat one of the weakest teams left in the competition – Olympiakos. Granted, Olympiakos put in a fantastic display, and did well to leave with the 2-0 advantage, but surely we can expect a team that ran away with the English league title to give a decent showing against an outfit such as the Greek side.
Now, we must surely try and see what nations such as Spain and Germany are doing to repeatedly get teams to the finals and ultimately prove themselves to be the best in Europe. For starters, they have a higher percentage of home-grow talent; one only has to glance at the Barcelona side to see that the majority of it is made up of Spanish internationals; by contrast, Chelsea field sides with very few Englishman in the squad, let alone the starting eleven.
I know that Arsenal, Chelsea, United and City all have chances to progress this year, but we should not (regardless of what happens in the following weeks) fail to learn a lesson from these two past weeks. Even if we do get teams into the latter stages of the competition, I doubt we will see our current crop of European standard clubs coming close to the level of the best in Spain and Germany.