Three English teams will be contesting in Thursday’s Europa League tie and everyone is eager to make a point for themselves.
This season, the top clubs from England failed miserably in Europe’s elite competition a.k.a. the Champions League. Manchester City and Chelsea (more about them later) were knocked out in the group stages.
Manchester United went out of the competition against Real Madrid despite being the better team while Arsenal are still in the competition but (almost certainly) it’s only a matter of time before they’re knocked out as well.
Much has been said and written about Premier League’s lack of quality due to what happened to the top sides. Thus, it is a huge test for other three English clubs, who are still competing for European glory (albeit lesser version) to prove a point for themselves and for the status of the league as well.
The best thing is all the three clubs are eager to do something better in this competition and are not taking it lightly. Why should they?
Chelsea will travel to Romania to face Steaua Bucharest. The Blues failed to defend their Champions League trophy this term and were dumped out in the group stages. Therefore, it’s an added challenge for them to clinch the Europa League title. Winning two back to back European trophies (whatever format) is a matter of pride actually.
After going through a tumultuous season, it also will give them a chance to finish the campaign on a high note. If they can manage a top four finish (which is their main priority) and bag two cups (still alive in the FA Cup) at the end of the season, it will be considered a successful season.
Likewise, the trophy means a lot for Tottenham and Andre Villas-Boas specially. This has been a remarkable season for the North Londoners so far but the job is still far from over. They have a tough set of fixtures from here on but the sole focus is now set on beating Inter Milan, their opponent for tonight.
Finishing in top four is their first priority and they are very much on course to achieve that dream. Further, a trophy at the end of the season will do their confidence (also, Villas-Boas’ resume) a world of good.
Newcastle United will travel to Russia to face Anzhi Makhachkala. The Magpies have failed to live up to the expectations this season, after doing so well last term.
The sombre mood at Tyneside has been replaced by glowing optimism after five new January recruits resulting in improvement in results and the club is looking ahead to progress further in the Europa League.
Well there’s no hiding from the fact that English clubs have fared miserably in Champions League but a lot could be said positively if these clubs can make a successful journey in the Europa League, starting with tonight’s games.
Also see the Europa League Round of 16 First Leg Preview.