Tonight’s football action will see Chelsea, Tottenham and Newcastle continue their journey in the Europa League on their quest to be the first English team to win the competition since 2001.
For years, the Europe league has been regarded a hindrance, suitable for smaller clubs wishing to break into Europe; clubs like Fulham and Everton have reaped the benefits in recent years of the competition but for teams that are used to Champions League football, such as Manchester United and this year Chelsea, it is seen as unnecessary step down – until now.
This year there are no English clubs in the quarter finals of the champion’s league, but for the first time ever there are three English clubs in the quarter finals of the Europa League casting doubt on the view that the Europa League is purely just an interference to English football teams.
Tottenham’s frequent last gasp winners have left fans speechless, and Gareth Bale has lit up the European stage with the wondrous skills of his left foot.
Newcastle United fans have been blessed with a remarkable European run that has somewhat distracted them from a dreadful campaign in the Premier League. They face a tough task against Benfica but have beaten established sides like Bordeaux and Russian millionaire squad Anzhi Makhachkala thus far.
Chelsea fans may be disappointed to find themselves in the Europa League just a year after winning the Champions League, but it is still only one of two cups they still remain a chance of winning, the other being the FA Cup. Their journey so far has been as challenging as any Champions League campaign though; despite not facing such challenges they are used to against Barcelona, Real Madrid or AC Milan in the Europa League, and face a long trip to Rubin Kazan next.
Although the competition may never be regarded on the same scale as the Champions League, it is certainly a cup to take seriously and deserves a lot more respect for giving some sides their first step into European football or the second chance it grants clubs that are down from the Champions League.
Swansea City worked incredibly hard to win the League Cup and have been rewarded with a place in next year’s Europa League which will bring a fresh representation of the Premier League in Europe. The Europa League is significant because each year it includes a variety of new teams facing Europe for the first time and gives their fans the first chance to travel Europe proudly wearing their clubs colours in a variety of countries.
Additionally, fans of Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle have been treated to edge of the seat stuff with some scintillating football matches that has seen their team reach the quarter finals of a European competition. There’s no question that each team will be going all out to win it from now on and fans will be treated to more classic clashes with the hope their team will be the first English team to lift the cup for 12 years.