Football FanCast columnist Tristan Mann wonders if English club’s dominance in Europe is starting to come to an end.
With the transfers of Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid for a
combined total of nearly £140 million this week, have we now witnessed the
power of European football swing back into the hands of the Spanish?
For the last few years, English football has dominated the European scene.
An English team has participated in each of the last five UEFA Champions League
Finals, with Liverpool triumphant in 2005, and Manchester United also
successful in 2008.
As well as this, up until last season, the English Premier League could
boast having the world's best player playing in its league in the form of
All this amounted to the Premier League outdoing every other European league
in terms of money, players and above all, dominance in Europe, something that
did not sit well with the rest of the continent, especially Michel Platini,
President of UEFA.
However, this English monopoly on the most coveted of trophies, the
Champions League could now be over. With Barcelona's impressive 2-0 victory
over Manchester United in last month's Champions League, the beginning of the
end could conceivably have started.
The Catalan side clicked last season under their youthful new manager Pep
Guardiola, and now Leo Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta have stated
their places as some of the best players in the world. Depending on who they
bring in this summer, they could be an even more threatening prospect next
Florentino Perez's second stint as Real Madrid President has already paid
dividends, securing, as he promised, the signings of Kaka and Ronaldo. Spain
now have arguably the three best players in the world, and with David Villa
quite probably joining the new galacticos, they could also be a powerful
force in Europe next season after years of disappointment.
The question is how the Premier League teams respond to this resurgence from
Barcelona and Real Madrid. Undoubtedly the Premier League can boast four truly
great teams, as well as the team Manchester City can potentially become with
all the money available to them.
Spain cannot match this, and while Sevilla and Atletico Madrid, the other
two teams who obtained Champions League spots last season, are good teams, they
aren't as good as any of England's top four.
With the strength of England's so called ‘second-tier' sides, i.e. Aston
Villa and Everton, English dominance in the newly named Europa League is
realistic. However, we must look at how the Premier League teams treated the
EUFA Cup last season, and perhaps reassess how seriously they will take
Europe's recently criticised competition.
But while the Europa League represents a
worthwhile trophy for our teams outside the big four, the prize that everyone
will be keenly taking an interest in next season is the Champions League.
Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all need to strengthen their
squads this summer to make realistic challenges to Real Madrid and European
champions Barcelona. And with the World Cup in South Africa next summer, 2010
could be a very successful season for Spain.