By Walter Broeckx
I find it in a way intriguing when I read quotes from pundits who look down at the French league.
Before the double encounter between two PL teams (Arsenal and Chelsea) and two French teams (Monaco and PSG) they just thought that the PL teams were stronger and would beat them French froggies. Now I can’t look in to the head of pundits and maybe a lot of English football supporters who just believe that the PL is the best and will always be the best. And certainly those French teams can’t even come near the level our PL teams have.
But in the cold light of day we could say: French League 2 – Premier League 0. That is the final outcome of the double encounter between both leagues in the champions league. Looking at that one can only say that French football and their league is superior to the PL. Of course things might have been different if Arsenal had been a bit luckier and cooler in their first leg at home to Monaco. Chelsea was no match for PSG who played them off the pitch for most of the matches even with 10 men.
And then if we take in account that Chelsea is leading the PL with a big advantage so should be considered the strongest team in this season but yet they didn’t have a chance against 10 man PSG, things don’t look so good. And if we look at the table in the French Ligue 1 we see that if Monaco wins their game in hand we have four teams with only a margin of 5 points at the top. Lyon 58pts, PSG 56 pts, Marseille 54pts and Monaco 53 pts (if they win their game in hand). So the French title fight looks more entertaining and more difficult than the current one horse race in the PL.
Now I have seen some people suggesting that Monaco would be a mediocre PL team. Why? Well I guess because those people like to look down on other leagues. How on earth can these pesky foreigners play football that can come even close to the PL and English football? They can’t do because we say so. That is what they say.
Maybe it is time to wake up to the horrible truth out there… they do play football in other countries and hell…they are rather successful in doing it.
And what about Manchester City? Well I have seen a bit of both matches as I had nothing else to do and I wanted to see how Barcelona are playing as I haven’t seen them play for a few years. What I saw was that this current team is nowhere the level it was when we played them and when they won the CL and the Spanish league a few times in a row. Despite the MSN frontline (Messi-Suarez-Neymar) they do look more vulnerable in midfield.
But in both matches as long as I was watching there was only one team playing and the other just running behind the ball and attempting to stop Barcelona from scoring. Of course it is no shame to be beaten by Barcelona in itself. But it was painful to see how the money team Manchester City was huffing and puffing and kicking (what a nasty kick from Nasri by the way, very ugly). This is one of the current flagships of the Pl remember. If only Barcelona had been a bit better in finishing their numerous changes it would have been a complete embarrassment for Man City.
Just as Chelsea, the current leader with a rather big advantage in the PL, were beaten by the second team from the French league with ease in fact. Playing 90 minutes against 10 man should be a rather easy job for the top team in the PL I would say. Certainly against a team from the frog league, sorry French league.
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Yes the PL is the league that draws most money. But if this trend of English teams going out so soon in the CL continues…the trend might change in a few years. Why would companies pay top money to see the PL as those teams are clearly inferior when they have to compete against teams from Germany and Spain and heaven forbid….even inferior compared to Italian teams … and worse of them all…compared to French teams?
I have been pointing at this worrying trend for a few years now on this website. But the truth is staring us in the eyes. And still most just prefer to close their eyes. If I don’t see it, it isn’t there. That is usually the best way to from being in some mud ending up in deep sh*t.
A winter break? When English teams dominated Europe there was no winter break. More money? The contrary could be the case because the more money pours in to the PL the worse their results against foreign teams.
I might point at the fact that the decline started since 2009 when Mike Riley stopped as a ref and took up another job. I wonder if the fact that the low level of referees has contributed to the downfall. Because lets face it players being kicked to shit with the refs accepting it can cause little injuries and knocks, and as a result those players are not as fit and fresh as players who play in leagues where they stop such rubbish immediately.
Maybe PL teams are like the big fat bear that has been fed so much that he forgets that it is to need to hunt because he feels hungry? I mean if the media always tells you that you are far better than all the rest it becomes a fact in your head and in the head of the players and supporters. And then when they face those foreign teams who are fresher (winter break) have fewer muscle injuries (better ref protection) and who want to prove the media wrong (PL is superior claim), then things go wrong.
Whatever the reasons may be, the first thing to get it cured is to accept the fact that we (=the PL) are falling back in the European order.
By the way there are no PL teams in all the European competitions. No PL in the best 8 in the CL and none in the Europa League last 16.
Most money poured in a league is still a title that goes to the PL, but let us be humble and accept that we are completely falling behind in the European football order these days. Time to wake up.
Anniversary of the Day (when times really were tough)
20 March 1976: Arsenal 6 West Ham 1; the best win in the worst season since 1924/25. Kidd (3) Ball (2) and Armstrong got the goals, but there was only one more victory in the remaining seven league games.
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