Barcelona. Real and Atletico Madrid. Juventus. Bayern Munich. These are Europe’s elite clubs, and without a doubt the best in the world, but none of them are English and this makes me wonder why the Premier League is renowned for being the ‘best in the world’.
An English team has not won the Champions League since 2012. No English side has progressed further than the semi final stage either since the 2011/12 season, of course Manchester City had the chance to do that last week, but Real Madrid at the Bernabeu proved a game too far.
Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United were all knocked out of the Champions league before the last eight this season. In the previous season all four English sides were knocked out in either the last 16 or before, and even the season before that only Chelsea could reach the last four before being knocked out by Atletico Madrid.
A Spanish side has won the champions league in threeof the last six seasons, and that number will rise to four this term with a Real vs. Atletico final. Since 2010, only two English sides have reached the final of Europe’s best competition, and only one was victorious. There has been a German or Spanish team in the final on four occasions in this time.
Considering the fact that English teams struggle in Europe and cannot seem to defeat the big clubs from other countries, this surely shows that the Premier League has lost its spark.
Adding on to the points about the world’s biggest teams, the world’s best players don’t seem to be playing in England either. Of course, nobody can compete with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, but since ‘CR7′ left Manchester United to move to Real Madrid in 2009, there has not once been a Premier League player in the Ballon d’Or shortlist.
Players in the Bundesliga and La Liga have filled the FIFA Team of The Year for the past few seasons in succession. Not a single Premier League player has been named in the world’s best XI since 2013, that player was Gareth Bale – who transferred to Real Madrid in September of that year.
Of course, very few players can turn down the glamour of Real Madrid and Barcelona, but in the past the Premier League was the place where every player wanted to be. The Premier League has lost players such as Thierry Henry, David Beckham, Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo in recent years as they can’t say no to the temptation of the world’s biggest clubs.
So what has happened to the Premier League?
The Premier League was never quite the same after Ronaldo’s departure in 2009. Manchester City became millionaires, Chelsea and Manchester United continued to dominate and incredibly Leicester City have put themselves in the history books, but the standard and quality of football has changed.
The Premier no longer boasts the greatest players in the world such as Eric Cantona, Steven Gerrard and Dennis Bergkamp, nor the greatest managers like Sir Alex Ferguson, while, according to many, Arsene Wenger has lost his touch.
English players are finding it increasingly harder to break through into the clubs’ first-teams and the English national team is far from being a threat to the likes of Spain and Germany. Of course, the Premier league certainly has some of the world’s best players in its ranks, as well as having exciting young talent.
But despite all these major flaws that I have mentioned, I am convinced that the Premier League is still the best league in the world.
The Premier League is more competitive than any other. Yes this season, La Liga has been incredibly exciting to watch with all of the ‘big three’ close in the title running, but the German, French and Italian leagues have all been complete walkovers for their respective champions.
In no other league would the previous season’s relegation strugglers go on to win the big prize the following season. The Premier League’s relegation battle is as exciting as the title race itself; every team is capable of beating any other on their day.
It has been an exciting season in all countries across the globe, but I am glad I follow the Premier League. Even though Arsenal let me down on a personal note, it has been a thrill to watch Leicester perform the way they have this season and if I had to give odds on them to win the Champions League next season, I think I may just give less than 5000/1.