The general consensus as far as I can tell, with regards to Chelsea winning the Europa League, is one of increasing indifference the further we progress. Of course, whether or not we win the trophy means next nothing if we can’t finish in the top four. Surely anyway, after this week, even the most enthusiastic fans of the Europa League must have struggled to muster up excitement for yesterday’s game in Switzerland, after watching the giants of Spanish football each receive a beat down from German opposition.
Two absolutely incredible matches that I think must have served as a powerful reminder to Chelsea fans (as if most of us even needed one) that the Champions League is where history is made, legacies are formed and where the top players and coaches really earn their money. We simply have to be there next season. If I was the coach I’d throw the Europa League final in a heartbeat if that’s what it took.
As far as what this week has meant for European football, far more so than good news for German football, I think it has spelt out bad news for the Spanish. In my opinion, La Liga has peaked and is only going downwards from here for some time. I think it could easily be ten years before Real Madrid will be as good as they were last season and I think it could even be decades before Barcelona reach the heights they hit in 2011. Against Bayern and Dortmund respectively, both Spanish sides looked tired, predictable and slow. I think we’re finally beginning to witness Spanish football paying the price for sacrificing the competitiveness of its league, in order to protect the ‘Big Two’ financially. “About time already” is all I’ve got to say.
As far as German football dominating Europe for the foreseeable future, I’m not so sure. I am sure that Bayern will the world’s best club side for probably the next three years and will unquestionably be ‘the team to beat’ from now on. As for Dortmund however, when a club with no cash has a season like they’re enjoying in Europe, the price is always the loss of talent. Mario Gotze has already signed for Bayern, Robert Lewandowski will most likely be joining him; how long they’ll be able to keep hold of Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan is also in doubt. They obviously have a great coach and will continue to have a great team over the next few years; I can only see them moving backwards from here however.
With the evident decline of Spain, the transition of German football into a one club empire and with Italy still lagging behind, the Premier League has a fantastic opportunity next season to flex its financial muscles again and reassert itself upon European football. With the hugely increased TV deals coming in next season, as well as the customary inflow of world-class talent (not to mention the expected return of Jose Mourinho), I think it’s time that Premier League clubs were feared in Europe once again.
Anyway, moving back onto Chelsea, after another two ridiculous league points dropped as a consequence of Luis Suarez’ cheating, I thought we did a decent job last night against Basel. I thought David Luiz and Ramires looked tired but Moses did a very good job and Hazard was fun to watch with a free role through the middle. Ashley Cole looked good as well coming back from injury. We deserved the win and we’ll probably go through.
Lastly, if you even occasionally read any news source or blog to do with Chelsea football club, you’ve probably read about a story published in Bild (a German Newspaper with a pretty reliable sport section) that Jose Mourinho is “almost certain” to rejoin Chelsea this summer and that the club are signing Falcao as a “welcome present”. The following day, odds on both joining Chelsea in the summer were reduced massively – whether that’s the result of ITK’s placing bets or just the gullible public obviously remains unknown. Either way, I’ve gone from hoping to expecting both of these deals to take place now. The signing of Andre Schurrle from Bayer Leverkusen for £17m looks extremely likely as well…
There have been lots of reasons (not worth going over again) why Chelsea have been so average at times this season. The way things look at the minute though, I see a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the very short-term future. The phrase ‘transition season’ has become a hollow, attritional one recently, seen as an excuse for preventable mistakes and poor performances. Despite the number of low-lights however I think there’s a good chance we’ll look back on this season as an immensely important one as we look to kick on next year.
Here’s hoping anyway…