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Gus Keri

A life-long Liverpool fan who resides in New York City and also supports the New York Red Bulls.


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The Europa League – The Little Sister, No More

Written by on March 10, 2011 | 19 Comments »
Posted in UEFA Europa League

The round of 16 of the Europa League starts this week and there is no shortage of exciting competitive matches to look forward to.

Of course, all the prestige goes to the Champions League where the best teams of Europe play. But in the current format, the Europa League is reaching a height; it had not reached since the heydays that preceded the formation of the UCL.

The expansion of the UCL led to monopoly over the many powerful clubs of Europe. Before that, many of those teams found themselves playing in the less prominent tournaments, the UEFA cup and the Cup Winners’ cup.

At certain points, you could be guaranteed more competitive match-ups in the UEFA cup and the CWC than in the Champions cup.

The days when the second rated UEFA cup suffered from neglect are over and the new EL is as exciting to watch as the UCL.

The last 16 teams of the EL don’t lack historical success in Europe. In total, 12 clubs have won some kind of European trophy in the past; 29 trophies to be exact, including 14 European cups/UCL titles.

To find out how competitive this group of clubs is, look no further than the current league tables across Europe. 10 of them are in a position to play in the UCL next year and 6 of them would be starting directly in the group stage.

Enough said about the past and the future. The present is even more than gratifying.

The rise of the Russian and the Ukrainian teams add a new flavor to the competition.

Although historically, they failed to make their marks on the top European competition, they managed to win the UEFA cup three times in the last 6 years. The only other country to win it in this period is Spain.

The former Soviet contingents won the Soviet league 33 times out of total 54. And their success didn’t stop after the split. In the last 19 years, Dynamo won 13 Ukrainian league titles while in Russia, Spartak won 9 and CSKA won 3 and Zenit won 2 titles.

It’s going to be East meet West in four match-ups. The most intriguing of them is the trip by Man City to Dynamo. Man City needs not underestimate the Ukrainians who deposed of Besiktas with two huge wins scoring 8 goals in total. And we all know that English clubs usually don’t do well when they travel that far east.

Of the other 4 meetings, the most fascinating one will be taking place in Braga, Portugal. Liverpool with a new-found self-belief and playing some of their best soccer this season will be tested by Braga which dropped from the UCL after finishing third in a group containing Arsenal and Shakhtar.

Both are coming off great results in the weekend. Liverpool beat Man Utd 3-1 and Braga beat Benfica 2-1.

And finally, did I mention that the traditional European powers like Ajax, PSV, Benfica, Porto, PSG are still in it. And of course, there is Rangers.

Here is the list of past winners:

Club: total European titles (European cups/UCL titles)

Liverpool: 8 titles (5)

Ajax: 6 (4)

Porto: 3 (2)

Benfica: 2 (2)

PSV Eindhoven: 2 (1)

Dynamo Kiev: 2

Bayer Leverkusen: 1

CSKA Moscow: 1

Zenit St Petersburg: 1

Manchester City: 1

Paris St Germain: 1

Rangers: 1

(Teams in bold have never won the UEFA cup.)

The schedule:

On Thursday 1 pm EST:

Braga vs. Liverpool

CSKA Moscow vs. Porto

PSV Eindhoven vs. Rangers

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Villarreal

On Thursday 3 pm EST:

Ajax Amsterdam vs. Spartak Moscow

Benfica vs. Paris St Germain

Dynamo Kiev vs. Manchester City

Twente Enschede vs. Zenit St Petersburg

You can get updates through RSS (top of the page), follow at Twitter BobbySoccerRep, or on Facebook SoccerReportExtra.com


19 responses to “The Europa League – The Little Sister, No More”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Every single EL tie is well poised… I honestly would not wager a dime on any team to progress due to parity. Even with a few injuries to Rangers and Man City’s billions, all games will be exciting.

  2. Gus Keri says:

    I agree with you, SL.

    By the way, everyone, I will try to provide some updates throughout the day. Feel free to contribute.

    Gol TV has two live games and one delayed game today:

    Braga vs. Liveprool at 1pm
    Ajax vs Spartak at 3pm
    Bayer Leverkusen vs. Villarreal at 5pm (delay)

  3. Scott Price says:

    Gus, I too enjoy watching the EL just as much as the UCL. I know fans from the UCL teams dont have nice things to say about the EL. Not sure why? Oh well, it’s their loss.

    Watching a team like Fulham(mid table team)last year go to the finals was fun to watch.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    Interesting news on the media front, today.

    ESPN continues its transformation to exclusive-British-accent TV, leaving FSC as the last resort for the announcers with an American accent.

    After JP Dellacamera, Allen Hopkins is set to make a return to FSC.

    Allen was a promising play-by-play announcers on FSC (one of my favorites, alongside Max Bretos) until he decided to move to ESPN where he worked on the sideline. I hope he still has what it takes to commentate on games.

    And with Max now working in the studio, ESPN is turning into a place where the promising American-accent play-by-play announcers go to die.

  5. Gus Keri says:

    Braga is leading Liverpool at half time:1-0 (by a PK)

    Overall, Braga is playing better and deserved the lead.

    Braga also are taking advantage of the physical game of Liverpool. They are dropping to the ground at any stight touch.

    Liverpool are missing a lot of firepower up front without Suarez and Gerrard.

    Let’s hope Carroll will come in and make a diferance.

  6. Gus Keri says:

    Scott Price:

    I agree with you.
    If you enjoy soccer in general you will enjoy the EL.

    Throughout the European soccer history, there were few memorable games that didn’t take place in the UCL or the European cups.

    I still remember the CWC final between Valencia and Arsenal that took place in 1980.

  7. Bring back the Cup Winners Cup I say!

    Eoin and talked about this post-podcast this morning and we both think that the competition should be revived. One rep per country straight two leg knock.

  8. Gus Keri says:

    Liverpool played much better after Carroll came in and they deserved at least a point, but it wasn’t to be.

    The referee was not consistent at all.
    He should have given Liverpool a PK. It was exactly similar to Braga’s PK. He should have sent Kaka off for his elbow to Carroll’s face.

  9. Soccerlogical says:

    Big fan of today’s EL fixtures but Fulham exciting to watch in the EL and the finals… are you kidding?

    As for Bretos and Hopkins, the less I hear their voices the better. Granted, Bretos knows his footy but is a bit overzealous in his commentary. As for Hopkins, he is just another cliched suit following the MLS lego league like Miles, Rogandino and the rest. Not that McManaman, Hudson or Barton are any better,

  10. Gus Keri says:

    In other matches, advantage to Villarreal and Porto which won away and to Rangers which came back with 0-0 tie.

  11. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    Bobby & FSR,

    I’ve gotta charge you guys with false advertising in Canada. The 13:00 game between CSKA v Porto was shown. However, the 15:00 matchup between Ajax v Spartak is currently not being shown. Instead they are replaying some Serie A match (Sampdoria v Cesena). Just fantastic. Not only does FSW Canada insist on replaying FSR (a good one hour daily recap of footy, I must admit) from 22:00 to 13:00 (15 hours of the same show) every day, they now cannot even follow their own programming promises. Can we get both the 13:00 & 15:00 UEL 2nd leg matches next week please?

    Coverage in Canada for the UEL today is very poor:
    13:00 TLN Braga v LFC
    13:00 FSW CSKA v Porto
    13:00 EWS Bayer Lev v Rangers

    15:00 EWS replay of Braga v LFC (when Benfica v PSG was advertised; EWS rarely follows their own programming notices).

    I like watching the UEL when I can, but the coverage of this event in Canada stinks. And the poor attendance at some venues today shows just how ‘important’ Europeans consider this competition (witness the attendance for CSKA v Porto today – there were more fans dressed up as empty seats than regularly dressed fans).

    *rant over*

  12. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    sorry, s/b 13:00 EWS PSV v Rangers

  13. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    No live UEL coverage in Canada today across any network for the 15:00 matches (and there were four of them). And I have a sports package to the hilt. Guess it’s time to watch the Big East tourny. Come on ‘Cuse!!!

  14. Gus Keri says:

    Few notes from today’s game:

    The Iberian teams are perfect with 4 wins. Villarreal and Porto away and Braga and Benfica at home.

    The Eastern teams are Jekyll and Hyde. Spartak won away and Dynamo won at home while the losers are CSKA and Zenit.

    The huge victory by Twente speaks highly of their standard. In the last round they opened the series by beating Rubin in Moscow 2-0. Today they beat Zenit 3-0 at home.

    The English teams lost away without any away goal. Their hope is not lost but need to be careful at home not to concede any goal against solid teams.

    Considering where Scottish soccer is nowadays, Rangers had what I consider the best result of the day.

    From what I saw today on both the TV and the net, The player of the day is the Spartak goalkeeper Andriy Dykan who was in wonderful form.

  15. redfan says:

    Injuries plus Poulson in CM = disasterous first half. Much better 2nd half and shame that the boys could not find the net. Chasing the game a bit 2nd half so lost a little composure.
    All to do at home and much to do in summer to offload dross and find some quality replacements.

    A season to stabilise the ship I think and we have achieved that to a point. When Kenny took over we were a lot to close to the bottom 3 and that has now been sorted. If we can finish 6th and somehow make it a little further in the EL, I will not complain too much about this season.

  16. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    No Italian team left in the last 16 in the UEL. Only one team left in the UCL (Inter, who may very well get bounced in less than a week’s time). So, it would make 0/8 left it the UCL (using my crystal ball or asking my friendly neighbourhood cephalopod) and 0/16 left in the UEL. My math may not be up to the standards of Derek’s, but I would say that 0/24 in Europe is not a good advertisement for Serie A. Just saying …

    Gus – fine UEL recap. Thank you. However, I don’t believe that Rubin plays in Moscow.

  17. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    Redfan,

    I thought LFC was supposed to play the first leg @ home (I believe that’s the way FSR and others originally reported it)? Was that a mistake or did LFC and Braga somehow agree to switch dates?

  18. AntonioSaucedo says:

    I agree with Bobby. The Re-Cup should make a come back.

  19. Gus Keri says:

    Rubin Kazan played Twente in Moscow (Luzhniki Stadium with an artificial pitch) because of the frozen ground in Kazan.

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