Concise News reports that for the first time in Europe, it will be an-English finals in both continental club competitions, with Liverpool taking on Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League final in Madrid and Chelsea locking horns with London rivals, Arsenal in the UEFA Europa League final in Baku, Azerbaijan.
The feat is historic, as never in the history of football has all four finalists in Europe’s top two competitions come from one nation in a single season. The Premier League clubs’ achievement means there will also be an all-English UEFA Super Cup in August. That game will be played in Istanbul, Turkey.
Amazingly, just one out of all the English finalists is in the race to be crowned champion of the Premier League come Sunday. And that is Jurgen Klopp’s side, Liverpool. The reigning English champions and table-toppers (Manchester City) were sent packing from the Champions League by Spurs in the last eight. And Spurs are not even in the top three according to the present standings.
In Liverpool, England produced a finalist last year too. This year, the Kops have been terrific, dispatching the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona – two of Europe’s heavyweights – en route to the final. It is no mean feat what the Merseyside club has done.
Truth be told, on the continent, English clubs floundered in the last five seasons. But indeed, they’ve risen. The league has been vindicated.
It’s a massive league, not just in terms of followership, but also in the toughness of teams. The quality cannot be ignored.
Chelsea manager, Maurizio Sarri who has coached in Italy says: “In England, the level is very high and the Premier League is the best championship in Europe.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who had a great time in Spain with Barcelona called it the ‘toughest’ league to win. “For the quality from rivals, no doubts it’s the toughest,” he says recently.
For Klopp too, the German admitted at the start of the season that winning the Premier League with Liverpool is a tougher mission than the Bundesliga victories he inspired at Borussia Dortmund. “The Premier League (is harder) for sure,” said Klopp.
German clubsides’ performance in the Champions League has dwindled, so their fans might be silent. But fans of Spanish football clubs can argue that La Liga produces the world’s best, hence the league on Europe’s Iberian Peninsula should be considered the best in the world. However, take away ‘genius’ Lionel Messi who has spent the whole of his career in Catalonia, most of La Liga’s top players are poached from England! Name them: Luka Modrić, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, and in their La Liga Santander days: Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Forlan, Xabi Alonso, Javier Mascherano et al.
English footballers may be overhyped, but definitely not the league! The league begets genuine quality!