Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle were all in action last night, and Ross Bellamy asks 'Is there a more pointless cup competition in world football than the Europa League?'
Michele Platini’s brainchild continues to infest Thursday nights with terrible football from clubs who are uninterested and unmotivated as they compete in Europe’s second club competition. Now before you think I am having a sly dig at Liverpool, you couldn’t be more wrong.
Us Everton supporters have been without European football for far too long, but give me the option of a refreshed team going into Sunday’s Merseyside derby or an Europe League away game at the entreatingly named Videoton FC, the former gets my vote every time.
I see the Europa League as an inconvenience, an unloved child who craves attention but will soon be shipped off to boarding school away from his more affluent, established bigger brother. Only Spain, whose teams made up three of the four Semi-Final berths in last year’s competition, seem to take it seriously.
Though the 3,000,000E payout for the eventual winners probably seduces teams who ply their trade in financially stricken countries.
AVB recently said that he wants to win this tournament but it has ended up becoming a microcosm of his Spurs reign, where he wants one thing but his players are playing a different tune altogether.
I doubt he is alone as last night’s bizarre scores suggest other top European sides are not taken it too seriously either, with the likes of Lazio, PSV, Udinese and Stuttgart failing to dispatch inferior opposition.
The Europa League’s predecessor was the historic UEFA Cup. Being a child of the 1990s, I remember this tournament bringing together giants of European football in two-legged winner takes all ties. It was a rollercoaster of mixed emotions with finals such as Juventus v Fiorentina, Bayern Munich v Bordeaux and Liverpool v Alaves graced our TV screens.
AVB’s victorious Porto team defeating Portuguese rivals Braga in the second Europe League final doesn’t quite match up to the UEFA Cup finals of the 1990s.
I appreciate that in a bygone era, teams like Dundee Utd, FC Twente and our old friends Videoton made UEFA Cup finals, but they were few and far between.
Which final tickles your football taste buds more: Inter v Roma or Shakhtar Donetsk v Fulham? (Add Craven Cottage to the list of football grounds that I won’t be welcome in)
This second-class competition concludes on the 15th May 2013 at Ajax’s magnificent Amsterdam Arena, a masterpiece of modern architecture that deserves to host world-class events…the Europe League final is not one of them.
Do you agree the Europa League is lacking the magic the UEFA Cup once did? Let us know your views...
image: © nicksarebi