Can anybody here explain the "Euoropa League" to me? I have recently started getting into soccer/football and have become a tottenham hotspur fan. I see that they play today and I am recording the game but I don't exactly understand why they are playing outside the premiere league.
I get the whole "Champions league" thing. Not so much the Europa league though. I assume champions league is more prestigious?
Yeah, more prestigious.
There used to be three European competitions = (1) Champions League / European Cup (2) Uefa Cup / Europa League (3) Cup Winners Cup.
The Champions of domestic league would go to the European Cup. The runners-up in the domestic teams would go to Uefa Cup. The winners of domestic cup (eg FA Cup) would go to the Cup Winners Cup.
Anyway, since then, the European Cup has been expanded into the Champions League. Now 3-4 teams from each top league in Europe plus 1-2 from lesser leagues go to the Champions League. Plus, the Cup Winners Cup has been scrubbed so cup winners now get a place in the new Europa League + the runners up teams are now teams who are placed 5th-7th in top leagues in Europe rather than the 2nd-3rd place teams they used to get. Also, the third placed team in the first group stage of the Champions League, when they get knocked out (top two of four team group advance), they go to the Europa League too.
There is very little money in the Europa League. I think the winner only earns around $5 million versus the $40+ million a Champions League winner gets.
The Europa League is still fairly well regarded around most of Europe but not in England. English teams usually send out their "B team" or reserves in the early rounds of the Europa League and do not take it seriously until the quarter-finals if they make it that far (by then, it's a possible trophy so they'll field good squads).
So don't bother watching most English teams in these early phases. Most won't put a strong team out there. Tottenham are an exception currently. They have Andre Villas Boas as their manager who won the competition with Porto 2 years ago. He rates it highly and doesn't understand why so many English supporters don't care about it. But the year before, with Harry Redknapp, Spurs fielded their backups all the way through until they were knocked out. Just not enough money in it to make it worthwhile hurting your league position to progress.
Overall, you can get a couple of very good teams in the competition + some great matchups in the knockout stages ... but overall, the quality is fairly dodgy. A lot of weak teams.
Atletico Bilbao were great last year. They decimated Man Utd in the competition. Ajax too. Atletico Madrid won the competition last year. You can see what they are doing in La Liga this year. That happens = you can see up and coming teams coming through the Europa League. Mourinho's Porto side won this competition before winning the Champions League the next year.
Normally, I just ignore it until the quarter finals and then look to see if there are any good teams playing each other. Maybe watch one of those games. Otherwise, I think it's a fairly dull tournament.
I think they should go to straight knockout right from the beginning. With lesser teams / quality, they need to increase urgency / intensity of ties. They can't just be a poor man's Champs league. They have to do something different. I think a straight knockout would do wonders for increasing interest in the Europa League.