Premier League: A fading force?
With a poor display in the Champions League, is the Premier League losing its edge?
Although Chelsea won Europe’s showpiece competition in 2012, they did it in a highly unconvincing manner.
They topped their group with minimal fuss, but when you look at their opposition, they should have, being drawn with Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen and Genk respectively, three teams who do not have as much financial power or worldwide appeal as the London giants possess.
In the round of 16, they faced off against Italian side Napoli, where they were outclassed 3-1 at the Stadio San Paolo, but staged a comeback to win 4-1 at Stamford Bridge, though the score line was very flattering to the blues as they used their physical prowess rather than footballing skill.
In the quarter-final stage they were pitted against Portuguese powerhouse Benfica, where they were outplayed over the course of two legs yet again, but found their way past them. In the semi-final stage, we all expected Barcelona to give Chelsea the hammering that their hideous style of play was deserving off, but 120 minutes of defending with a few counter attacks saw them past the Catalan giants and they had somehow made their way to the final in Munich where they would face Bayern Munich.
The Bavarian side had been the most impressive team in the tournament and we all expected a win for the home side, but yet again, Chelsea proved us all wrong. A mixture of ‘parking the bus’ on front of their net and some awful finishing by Mario Gomez made sure that Bayern could only convert once, but a late Didier Drogba header took things to extra time, where Chelsea would eventually go on to win on penalties.
Although Chelsea won the tournament in a way that shamed English football, their other contestants were just as disappointing, with Manchester City failing to make their way through a group where Bayern Munich would be the only team categorised as bigger, while Manchester United were also eliminated at the group stage. Arsenal would go on to progress to the last 16, but a 4-0 walloping by AC Milan awaited them, as they also crashed out at an earlier stage than was expected.
In the 2012/13 season, the English FA were hoping for a better showing than they had in the previous season, but with all of their entrants failing to make their way past the last 16, they didn’t get what they were looking for. Manchester City and Chelsea both crashed out of their groups, City failing to win one match, while Chelsea were eliminated after a 3-0 crushing from Juventus.
Chelsea were going through their best run of form as it was still early in the season and they were sitting top of the Premier League, and it was the manner Juve went about tearing Chelsea apart that made English football look like it had lost most of it’s power in the Champions League.
The fact that Manchester City went into the group stage as Premier League winners, and Chelsea as champions of Europe made it that bit more embarrassing, as their best side had failed to register one win against two teams that were seen as lesser and of course Real Madrid.
Manchester United and Arsenal both progressed to the round of 16, but only for them both to meet their matches in the form of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. United were the first to go, as although they fought hard, but ultimately rode their luck at the Bernabeu, they came away with a respectable 1-1 draw, they were then beaten 2-1 on home soil, which saw Los Merengues progress.
Although some claim the referee unjustifiably sent off Nani, by the rules of football, he had to go. Arsenal were then completely outclassed at the emirates by a rampant Bayern Munich side 3-1. They may have came close to progression as they surprisingly won 2-0 in Germany, but when you scratch the surface, Bayern were missing the influential Philipp Lahm and Bastian Schweinsteiger, and all of the match stats were in Bayern’s favour.
Although the Gunners were flattered by the scoreline, they must be respected for approaching Bayern in the way they would any team instead of going into defence mode, something that European football seems to be lacking in the modern era.
The Premier League looks like it is a fading force of European football, as it is not that they have all had minor slip up’s in their games, but have been completely outclassed in the majority of them. For the Premier League to be recognised as one of Europe’s super power’s once again, the bigger teams will have to look at their own flaws and amend them. Chelsea must hire a manager that can be considered as full time and not an interim.
Their players must get used to one manager's style and eventually they will reap the rewards that patience brings.
While Arsenal must stop selling their brightest talents and start spending money to remain competitive, while Manchester United will have to heavily invest, but taking their massive debt into consideration, it may take a while.
The Premiership will be back soon if they follow the Bundesliga and Serie A’s example of not spending more than your club generates. If the club stays within it’s means, debt will not be a problem and it will also prepare them for Financial Fair Play, as it comes into greater effect for the 2013/14 season.
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