After what felt like a long winter break, European football returned to our screens on Tuesday night to get the knockout stages underway.
The Premier League has three representatives in the Champions League with Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal all in action over the next fortnight.
Meanwhile, Manchester United, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are all flying the flag in the Europa League, whether they like it or not.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250 word test article: http://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Article continues below
Europe’s second-most elite competition has become something of a poisoned chalice in recent years, with many teams fielding weakened sides as other competitions take priority.
The incentive of a place in the Champions League has given the Europa some much-needed credibility since it was introduced last season but still threatens to derail clubs’ domestic campaigns.
Article continues below
And amidst a season that has seen the most competitive Premier League title race in a long while, European competitions may find themselves taking a backseat once again.
As teams have shown in the past, putting all your eggs in the European basket can be a very risky strategy indeed. Here are a few examples of when that strategy doesn’t always pay off.
The lucky ones. Chelsea endured a torrid league campaign under Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo, and winning the Champions League was their most realistic chance of qualifying for the following season's campaign.
Their domestic performances suffered, winning just eight league games post-Christmas and finishing sixth, but they rode their luck several times on their way to a historic European title.
IPSWICH TOWN (2001/02)
The Tractor Boys paid the ultimate prize for domestic success the year before, when they finished fifth in the Premier League following promotion under the guidance of George Burley.
But a poor second season in the league, coupled with their run to the third round of the UEFA Cup, proved to be their downfall.
Ipswich enjoyed a brief renaissance after exiting the competition, winning six out of their next nine league games, but 20 defeats all year eventually took their toll and they have been stuck in the Championship ever since.
NEWCASTLE UNITED (2012/13)
Part of the reason Chelsea found it so difficult in 2011/12 was the form of Newcastle, as Alan Pardew unexpectedly guided the Magpies to fifth place.
They fully merited a spot in the Europa League, but progressing to the quarter-finals the following season hampered their league progress and Pardew's side finished just five points above relegation.
After a successful first year for Roberto Martinez, largely thanks to the signing of Romelu Lukaku, Everton found themselves back in European football for the first time in five years.
But they were unable to reproduce the performances of the previous campaign as they made it to the last-16 stage in Europe and finished a disappointing 11th in the Premier League.
BOLTON WANDERERS (2007/08)
Big Sam Allardyce worked wonders after taking Bolton up into the Premier League, and within four years the Trotters were playing European football after some top-half finishes.
Their last appearance, however, while recording memorable performances against the likes of Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Sporting Lisbon, destroyed their league season and Wanderers finished in 16th, just a single point above the drop.
Sadly, they never really recovered, and after a few more years flirting with relegation, they finally went down in 2012 and have since encountered financial difficulties.
Do YOU want to write for GiveMeSport? Get started today by signing-up and submitting an article HERE: http://gms.to/writeforgms