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Europa League

The Warm-Up: The Europa League is so much better than the Champions League

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Mathieu Valbuena and Mady Camara of Olympiacos FC celebrates during the UEFA Europa League round of 32 second leg match between Arsenal FC and Olympiacos FC at Emirates Stadium on February 27, 2020 in London, United Kingdom.

Image credit: Getty Images

ByMarcus Foley
28/02/2020 at 07:48 | Updated 28/02/2020 at 09:36
@mmjfoley

Plus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang loves missing sitters, Bundesliga is by every measure the best league and Leganes are denied same privilege Barcelona were afforded.

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Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

A statement by Albert Einstein, and, sort of, applicable to the Champions League. It is the same cabal of teams playing each other year after year. At the end of the season some team who are absolutely stacked with money win. Boring, tiresome guff.

The Europa League offers a wonderful mix of older, historic clubs going toe-to-toe with upstarts that produces some quite majestic matches and no little drama.

Celtic were dumped out by F.C. København, Arsenal and Olympiacos went at it all the way to the 123rd minute that included some late, late drama (see below), 10-man Linzer Athletik-Sport-Klub gave AZ Alkmaar their marching orders and it was generally a great evening of football.

The Europa League is just purer. For example, when was the last time Mesut Ozil put a slide tackle in the Champions League? He was at it on Thursday night. Lovely stuff.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang loves missing a sitter

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a wonderfully gifted football player, as evidenced by his scissor kick to put Arsenal on the cusp of the last-16 of the Europa League.

Then after Olympiacos equalised to put themselves on the cusp of the last 16, Auba missed a gilt-edged sitter meaning Olympiacos went through on away goals after a 2-1 win at the Emirates.

He is excellent but not elite. He has, for some seasons, courted a move to Real Madrid; for some seasons that move has not been forthcoming. And his failing against Olympiacos suggests that the decision not to seek out the transfer by the powers that be at Madrid is probably the right one.

For while the Gabonese scores a lot of goals, he miss a lot of chances too. Auba is excellent but is he clutch? The answer to that on balance is no and at the level he wants to play at that is not good enough. He is one of those rare players who appears to score the difficult ones and misses the sitters.

On Thursday night he missed from five yards. There is no excuse for an elite-level player to miss that.

Bundesliga by every measure the best league

The Bundesliga is not generally awash with generous benefactors (they're never generous, by the way, they always have ulterior motives) and it is the most balanced and competitive league in Europe, despite Bayern's relative supremacy domestically.

It is also the most entertaining and, well, the best in Europe. Just look at the evidence on offer these last few weeks, RB Leipzig shooed Tottenham, Bayern Munich pasted Chelsea, Borussia Dortmund held their own against Europe's best squad in PSG and their Europa League participants, Wolfsburg and Bayer Leverkusen, ran amok against Malmö and Porto.

Is the Bundesliga about to embark on a period of European domination? Hopefully, as long term it will be to the benefit of European football - because if the league of long-term, sustainable planning can produce long-term, sustainable success then hopefully the ruinous relationship the majority of European football has with money will die a death.

Hopefully.

Leganes denied same privilege Barcelona were afforded

Well, this seems fair.

Big club has an absolute stinker of a transfer window - literally dumps in its own figurative hand and slaps itself in the face - and the authorities allow them to make an emergency signing.

Not only that, but it allows said big club to execute the relatively modest release clause in player's contract, thus probably fatally undermining smaller club's hopes of evading the drop.

Smaller club asks authorities to be able to make an emergency signing of their own. Smaller club told their stinker - entirely not of their own incompetence - is a tough spot but they won't be able to sign an emergency forward.

Smaller club, quite incandescent with rage, and rightly so:

We are facing unfair regulations, which threatens the integrity of the competition and the right of all clubs to compete on equal terms, and that has caused huge and serious damage to the club.

The Spanish authorities' reasoning seems sound to be fair: if they allow a club to sign a player outside the transfer window then another Liga club would request the same privileges.

Fair play. Should have probably applied said logic to Barcelona.

HERO - Martin Braithwaite

Those there are some skills, Martin.

ZERO - Martin Braithwaite

Wind it in, Martin.

HAT-TIP

Fair play to these Frankfurt fans.

COMING UP

The greatest league in the world – the Bundesliga – has a fixture, it is Fortuna Dusseldorf against Hertha Berlin, and also has a team, Eintracht Frankfurt in Europa League action against FC Red Bull Salzburg.

Tom Adams, the emergency signing sanctioned by Eurosport's governing body (Tom Adams), takes the place of Marcus Foley on Monday.

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