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Why are no English teams in European finals? The Premier League has become harder than its rivals

May 10th, 2024

For the first time in four years, there will be no English clubs in a major European cup final, a collective failure that inevitably leads to thoughts of decline and mismanagement, provoking debate about the reasons why.

There might not be anything to worry about. After all, by the very nature of knockout football, the best teams do not always win. That is the enduring beauty of it.

Few would argue against the stance that Manchester City were the superior side over two legs of their quarter-final against Real Madrid, only to lose on the lottery of a penalty shootout. Indeed, if we remove our nationalist spectacles, it is important for the overall health, intrigue and entertainment of European football if English clubs are not omnipresent in the latter stages of all three continental cups.

There will be plenty of football supporters and administrators who are delighted the Premier League’s participants have failed so badly. German and Italian clubs comfortably collected more coefficient points and will therefore receive an extra Champions League place next season.

Perhaps the problem is a simple one – the Premier League has become a victim of its own success; that the league has become so rich, so strong, that its competitiveness has become its undoing.

When the overall strength of the competition means there are no easy games, regardless of league position, the demands are huge from August to May.

The Premier League is not just the richest league in the world, it is the envy of it too. It is the most watched domestic football competition because of the intensity of its matches and the drama it brings.

And thanks to its lucrative television deals, both domestic and international, the Premier League has the greatest concentration of talent on the planet. With the odd exception, every team has a world class player or two and all are filled with senior internationals.

When this is combined with a fixture list more gruelling than any other, fatigue has clearly been an issue for our participants this season. It takes so much out of teams to win domestic fixtures, especially by the time we reach the business end of the campaign, that they are drained for midweek European fixtures.

Luck of the draw unkind to English clubs

The luck of the draw has also been unkind. Had Man City avoided Real Madrid in the quarters, you would imagine they would be playing them in the final at Wembley for a start.

Newcastle United played their first Champions League games for 20 years and were paired with eventual semi-finalists Paris Saint-Germain and finalists Borussia Dortmund in the group stage.

West Ham, the reigning European Conference League champions, were drawn against unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen in the quarter-finals of the Europa League. David Moyes’ side were only narrowly beaten by the German champions, despite currently sitting ninth in the Premier League.

Liverpool, when they were beaten by Atalanta in the quarter-final of the Europa League, were involved in a heavyweight three-team tussle for the title with Arsenal and City. Mikel Arteta and Pep Guardiola’s side also exited Europe when they knew any slip up in the Premier League was likely to cost them the ultimate crown. Aston Villa are battling to secure a top-four finish for the first time in 28 years.

This is important when you contrast it with the other major European leagues, where the champions were all decided weeks ago.

It has allowed their European cup contenders to put everything into those games. In England, there has been so much riding on every Premier League game, that the pressure has been relentless and unforgiving.

PSG, who have spent hundreds of millions of euros and still cannot win the Champions League, won Ligue 1 three games ago when they were 12 points clear at the top.

Bayer Leverkusen won the Bundesliga five games ago, when they were 16 points clear of Bayern Munich, who had no worries about qualifying for the Champions League, so secure in second place. In turn, Dortmund, in fifth, have had nothing to worry about domestically either as Germany receive an extra berth and they are watertight in fifth.

In Italy, Inter Milan also won their title with five games to go, when they were 17 points clear, with Atalanta currently fifth and all but guaranteed some sort of European competition next season even if they slip down to sixth behind Roma.

In Spain, Real Madrid have also cruised to the title, leading Girona by 13 points and Barcelona by 14. The top four positions are also all but decided.

In England, the world remains transfixed as Arsenal and City go head-to-head, with either side capable of winning the title, the destination of which will almost certainly be determined on the last day of the season.

Below them, Villa still have to hold off Spurs in fifth, who also have Manchester United, Newcastle and Chelsea snapping at their heels, all three competing for European qualification, a race that will not be finalised until next weekend.

It creates great drama and generates excitement. It is why the Premier League is the best, strongest and most popular to watch. But that status may well have come at a price, at least this season. In truth, we do not know if we need to be worried or merely irritated that this time, the English clubs have come up short in Europe

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This content was originally sourced and posted at Yahoo! Sports – News, Scores, Standings, Rumors, Fantasy Games »
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