La Euro­pean Liga

One thing hasn’t changed since Spain won the 2008 Euro — their do­mes­tic league’s dom­i­nance in Euro­pean club com­pe­ti­tions

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games -

One thing hasn’t changed in­Euro­pean­foot­ball— the suc­cess of Span­ish clubs. Year af­ter year, Span­ish teams have been mak­ing it to the de­ci­sive stages of both the Cham­pi­ons League and the Europa League.

“We are proud, we’ve been do­ing this for sev­eral years now,” Span­ish league pres­i­dent Javier Te­bas said. “We’ve got­ten used to eat­ing caviar. The­daythis­changes,I’msurethatall the head­lines will be about cri­sis in the Span­ish foot­ball.” Span­ish clubs have won eight Euro­pean ti­tles over the last seven sea­sons, four in the Cham­pi­ons League and four in the Europa League.Thissea­son,Atleti­coMadrid and Real Madrid are in the semi­fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League, and Sevilla and Vil­lar­real are in the last four in the Europa League. “It shows that the work of foot­ball of­fi­cials and coaches in Spain is ex­cep­tional,” Te­bas said. “We have to give credit to the clubs’ pres­i­dents and the foot­ball di­rec­tors, they are re­spon­si­ble for the con­ti­nu­ity of this suc­cess.”

There have been at least three Span­ish clubs in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cham­pi­ons League in each of the last four sea­sons, and at least two in the semi-fi­nals the last six sea­sons. The last time there were no Span­ish teams in the tour­na­ment’s quar­ter­fi­nals was back in 2005, when Real Madrid and Barcelona were elim­i­nated in the round of 16.

In the Europa League, at least one Span­ish club has made it to the semi­fi­nals in six of the last seven edi­tions. Atletico Madrid won the ti­tle in 2010 and 2012, and Sevilla in 2014 and 2015. Span­ish supremacy ex­ists even though La Liga — wealthy in its own right — can’t com­pete fi­nan­cially with the Premier League, where clubs have greater spend­ing power. (A rea­son for this is Eng­land’s shar­ing of TV rev­enue. In Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona get a higher

per­cent­age — though a more eq­ui­table deal has been agreed up start­ing next sea­son.) “The sport­ing re­sults are not al­ways cor­re­lated one-toone with the teams’ in­come,” said Lars-Chris­ter Ols­son, chair­man of the Euro­pean Pro­fes­sional Foot­ball Leagues. “One of the rea­sons we de­fend the do­mes­tic leagues is to keep the dream alive for all clubs. The smaller clubs should at least have an op­por­tu­nity to win the big­gest ti­tles.”

Ols­son and his group have been on a cru­sade against the cre­ation of the Euro­pean Su­per League, which they say would be a re­vamped Cham­pi­ons League with guar­an­teed spots for

Europe’s top clubs in detri­ment of smaller teams who can qual­ify through do­mes­tic tour­na­ments. The Span­ish league has been a strong sup­porter of the group’s ef­forts with La Liga of­fi­cials alert to the Premier League’s grow­ing fi­nan­cial power in world foot­ball.


Barcelona — the sur­prise exit from Europe — pun­ished De­portivo La Coruna af­ter a run of four losses in five games in all com­pe­ti­tions. It was a loss of form that cost them a place in the Cham­pi­ons League semi-fi­nals and an 11-point lead in the La Liga.

Barcelona scored eight mid­week, reliev­ing the pres­sure that had built up over the last month. “We needed the vic­tory,” Luis Suarez said on Thurs­day. “We had been suf­fer­ing. It was about time to win again and achieve a good re­sult… We feel a lot bet­ter now.” The vic­tory kept the Cata­lan club ahead of their Madrid ri­vals, who also won their games on Wed­nes­day. Atletico won at Ath­letic Bil­bao 1-0, and Real Madrid beat Vil­lar­real 3-0. Atletico and Barcelona have79­pointseach­with­four­matches left, while Real are a point be­hind.

Wed­nes­day’s goal-fest was also good for Barcelona’s MSN — Lionel Messi, Suarez and Ney­mar. While Suarez (30 goals) scored four to keep pace with Cris­tiano Ron­aldo (31 goals) in the pichichi race, Ney­mar ended a five-game scor­ing slump and Messi re­turned­toamore­flu­ent­play­mak­ing role. “Noth­ing has changed,” Real Madrid coach Zine­dine Zi­dane said. “We were one point away from them yes­ter­day and we are one point away to­day.” That sounds like a chal­lenge from a team on a streak of eight league wins in a row.

Atletico’s An­toine Griez­mann scores their sec­ond goal, through a penalty, to knock Barcelona out of the Cham­pi­ons League

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