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Why is the EPL dominating the Champions League?

From Champions League Talk:

After Liverpool’s win on Tuesday against Internazionale, the quarter-final participants are now set and the draw will be held on Friday. Torres struck a lovely goal to win the second leg 1-0 for his team and insure that they would progress with a 3-0 aggregate score.

It is interesting to note the shift in power in the last few seasons. In 2003 three Italian teams reached the semi-finals, with Juventus and Milan ultimately contesting the final. Now in 2008, four English clubs are in the quarter-finals.

What has caused this shift in power to the English-based clubs? Certainly, the domestic league TV money has helped but the top four in England have had very little in the way of challengers for their Champions League spots. This has not been the case in Spain, Italy or Germany where the domestic leagues are much more competitive on a game-in, game-out basis.

Success in the Champions League is certainly helping to increase the gulf between the “Big Four” and the rest of their competitors. Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool earned between 15 and 27 million GBP from the cash fountain that is Europe’s premier club competition. With a new television deal bids ongoing, the Premier League elite are set to cash in even more, with speculation pegging each club being able to earn between 20 and 35 million GBP in a single Champions League season, including sponsorship money and prize money.

That money allows them to attract the top talents of the world but the composition of their rosters will again raise concerns for the English national team. Only two English players started for Liverpool, four for Chelsea, none for Arsenal and four for Manchester United.

Beyond the national team concerns, is the English Premier League really the strongest/best league at the moment? Or are the “Big Four” English teams merely able to cash in on a weaker domestic league? Can there even be such a thing as a “best league”?

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  1. Yd

    April 17, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    The cash flow seems to affect everything but then again the English national side is on the losing end.Quality English players are not getting enough playing time in their clubs, because the managers field expensive but not necessarily better players from abroad.

  2. BillE Shears

    March 12, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    I see it as more of an ebb and flow than indicative of some greater trend. You can say that English clubs are dominating, but only one English club has won it this century.

    I think the greater issue is just that a lot of the traditional powers have had sharp down periods. Clubs like Bayern and Juve who would normally be knocking about now aren’t in the competition.

    Titans like A.C. Milan, Real Madrid and Barca are in a state of flux and not their dominant selves.

  3. Alex Hleb

    March 12, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    scout i really think you have to count the english players playing in the game, not just the ones starting. theo walcott played a crucial role in the 2nd goal for arsenal against milan, and im sure there were other subs for man u, liverpool, and chelsea that were english. that must raise the numbers you bring up. you want to prove a point and thats obvious, but i do think the talent pool is england is stable enough as it always has been. not winning the world cup is not an indication that the talent pool isnt deep. look at spain. theyve had similar troubles to england when it comes to winning tournaments and all of their players play for barcelona, real madrid, sevilla, valencia, villareal, or abroad on teams playing in the champions league. They get more experience in the champions league than england’s players but they still have the same fate. I think the players need to consider going abroad to spain and france and italy if they really want the experience, but they settle for the bigger salaries in the premier league. But i think taking spain as an example is reasonable.

  4. ossie's dream

    March 12, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    Good post.

    On the question of the “best:” it depends how you define “best.” If by best, you mean exciting and skillful football with often unpredictable outcomes (my definition), then it’s extremely difficult to determine which is indeed the best league.

    It may be a case of comparing apples and oranges.

    The English league is renowned for its frenetic pace and pulsating end-to-end action. Continental games, on the other hand, tend to substitute pace for skill, with games taking a slower more deliberate tempo. Perhaps less visceral pleasure to had here, although the skill on display is more often than not superior to that of the English game.

    One other way the EPL differs is the predictability of it all. Sure, big teams (e.g. Bayern, Madrid, Barca, the Milanese and Juve) often dominate their respective leagues, but, as you point out, league positions are a lot more fluid across the Channel, while English domestic silverware has lived under the shadow of the Big Four oligopoly for far too long. The system is geared in their favor with one money-spinning opportunity after the other. Of course, clubs like Arsenal and ManU have more than money working in their favor, while recent evidence suggests that Chelsea has nothing but money going for them. And money doesn’t always translate into lasting success. But the fact remains, the EPL is dominated by the richest clubs. The most excitement this year surely has to be seeing the Big Four teams being unceremoniously dumped out of the cup competitions. This has been the best FA Cup in eons.

    With all the talk of astroturf pitches, super leagues and Game 39, I wonder why hardly anyone is talking about ways in which to level the English playing field, creating a system that encourages more competition for silverware. That, surely, would be a welcome innovation.

  5. JLay

    March 12, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t think that there truly is a “best” league, as the top “super clubs” from England, Spain, and Italy all have a legitimate chance to win almost every year. That said, the fact that there are 4 English teams in the quarters is indictative of how far they’ve come over the past several years. Of course, the money helps a lot…

    If you’re trying to decide which league is truly the best, you’d really have to have the teams at the top, middle and bottom of each league play each other- every one of the major leagues has a few dominant teams at the top every year- and unless something drastic happens we’ll see the same super clubs winning it almost every year.

    Either way, I love the CL because it offers us a rare opportunity to see the best clubs and players in the world take on each other. The convergence of so many different playing styles, formations and strategies make for very interesting and entertaining ties across the board.

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