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Why Chelsea has to win the Europa League

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By: Chaitanya Goparaju Updated 16 Apr 2013 09:06:34

Why Chelsea has to win the Europa League

The closest a club from the EPL came to winning the biggest tournament in European Football – the Champions League – this season was Manchester United and they were knocked out by the giants from Bernabéu in the round of 16. Taken down like a prey at the hands of a predator at the most opportune moment, due to an unfortunate mistake while on the path to safety and victory, MANU’s exit from the CL meant that no English team made it to the quarter finals this year. 3 Spanish teams, 2 from Germany and 1 each from France, Italy and Turkey competed in the quarter finals. It is not that the top English clubs are below par comparatively but tougher draws meant marquee matchups with plenty of entertainment and early exits. The second biggest tournament in European football has also seen similar fortunes for English clubs and although there were 3 of them in the quarters, only Chelsea has managed its way into the semis but not without much huffing and puffing. This leaves them as the only English club with a chance to win a European cup this season.

DOWNHILL

Arsène Wenger recently stated that the quality of English football is on the wane [1] and quite frankly I could not see even MANU having enough quality to comfortably beat the likes of Bayern Munich or Barcelona had it reached the semis. A club with a wealth of talent like Manchester City should have enough mettle to reach at least the semis of the CL but consistency can only be bred and cannot be bought. City disappointed by not even making it into the Europa League. It would have been interesting to observe City’s form in the Premier League had they still been in the hunt for CL glory. I would have fancied 2nd spot for Arsenal or Chelsea in the standings! For I have a strange feeling that Mancini would have concentrated much more on winning it all in the CL and maybe relax a tad bit about the performances in the PL! After all, MANU ran away with the Premier League quite early this season and CL glory for Man City would have been a worthy compensation to their inconsistent form in the domestic league.

CHANCE FOR SALVATION

Chelsea’s poor season by their (poor, ruthless, impatient Roman) standards might be forgotten with a trophy – even if it is the Europa League. I strongly suspect that winning the Europa League will not lighten the ill feeling towards Benitez among the Chelsea faithful for they never warmed up to him and it certainly would not give them as much satisfaction as winning the CL against Bayern gave last year. But Chelsea still has one firm hand on 3rd/4th spot in the EPL this time (a marked improvement from last season) and is guaranteed a new manager(s!), possibly a host of exciting talent this summer and probably more disappointment for Roman in the next season. And a trophy is a trophy after all even if it’s a lesser (if not at all) coveted one.

If Chelsea do manage to defeat the giant killing Basel and Fenerbache/Benfica, the EPL would have something to cheer about. Clubs from other countries might scorn the achievement – after all the Europa League should not be a proud achievement for a top tier club from the EPL but again, a trophy is a trophy after all! This statement now makes me wonder what might be the reaction of Gunner fans if Arsenal had won the Capital One Cup this season. Personally, I feel there is little glory there and it might have done more harm to the club’s top 4 ambitions. When compared to the other 3 remaining clubs in the Europa League, Chelsea are the rich bullies who could not beat the other big boys and are trying to steal a lower (no offence meant) prize.

EPL DESERVES BETTER

But atleast EPL would have a club that won a major tournament in Europe, right? That would still make me proud as a fan of the EPL. If it does happen it would no doubt deny perhaps a fairytale ending for a club like Basel whose talent and riches do not even come close to Chelsea’s. But it would avoid embarrassment for what is possibly the best league in Europe and which has almost 10 top quality clubs slugging it out for positions in the EPL and where losses for clubs like Arsenal or MANU against Swansea are not overly shocking and becoming more and more common. There is a sense of balance in the EPL that is lacking from other leagues. It might not be that other clubs are catching up to the standards of the EPL but it is that the clubs of EPL are not playing to their potential. Why else would a team consisting of Tevez and Aguero and the Toures struggle to win a match in their group in the CL and a club with the likes of Lampard and Terry (and Mata and Hazard and Luiz) and Cech play out of their skins to beat Kazan?

It’s time to buck up and reach deep inside for the EPL top 4 to avoid humiliation next season and remind the other countries why the English league has been the envy of Europe. For now, come on Chelsea, for the sake of EPL!

[1] Source @http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21780628


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