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English clubs struggling in Europe

Updated on June 6, 2016

Premier League’s Fall from Grace in Europe.

The English Premier league is coveted as the most intense, competitive, and overall best league in the Footballing (soccer) world. So a question that continues to be asked is why English teams struggle to match their performances of seven years ago, when they had provided three semi-finalists for Europe’s most prestigious competition for three consecutive seasons?

In the last five years of the Champions League, the German Bundesliga has produced 40% of finalists with Spain’s La Liga 30%, and the Premier League struggling behind at 20%.

However it has not always been like this, between 2004-05 and 2008-09, the Premier League made up 60% of the semi-finalists. During the same period no German clubs reached the semi finals.

Soccer television pundits and fans around the world seem to have a handful of similar reasons as to why English teams are unsuccessful at the highest stage.

Some analysts believe that the EPL teams are at a disadvantage because of the rigors they face during the seven months prior to the quarterfinals of the European tournament. It is true that the EPL posses the most evenly balanced and therefore the most intense league in world football. Other leagues such as Spain’s La Liga, Germany’s Bundesliga, Italy’s Seria A, and Frances League One only really have top three or four teams battling for the trophy at the end of the seasons. However the winner of the English Premier League is guaranteed, with Leicester City winning this year.

Others however believe that there is no more “fear factor.” The current win rate of English clubs in the Champions League groups games is a dismal 17% - this is the worst at the same stage for the last 20 years, when it was also 17% in 1995-96. Arsenal for example is a great representative of this appalling statistic. Last season they were unseated by Croatians Dinamo Zagreb, and Greek side Olympiakos, both games that they should have comfortably seen through. The loss of that fear factor means lesser European teams face Premier League opposition with optimism.

The last reason English clubs may be struggling in Europe is because the world-class talent is going to abroad. Some of this generation’s greatest players have opted out of going to or staying in the Premier league in fear of not winning any European trophies. Cristiano Ronaldo, Luiz Saurez, Gareth Bale, arguably the top three players in the world all left England to play for Spain’s top clubs. It turns out the only way players leave Spain’s top tier teams is when they are no longer useful. Cesc Fabregas, Alexis Sanchez, and Mesut Ozil all fit this profile all elite players who left Real Madrid and Barcelona respectfully because they were falling down the pecking order.

English clubs struggling in Europe isn’t a new phenomenon it has been slowly building up over the last three to four campaigns. English clubs just don’t stack up to the competition anymore. Whether it has to do with world-class players wanting to go to other countries, loss of fear factor, or the rigorous schedule the premier league possess English clubs need to find a quick solution to this dip in form. . The situation has gotten so severe that if it continues the Premier League could face losing a spot in the Champions League to Seria A.

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