The Europa League: Have Our Priorities Changed?

My feelings towards the Europa League have gone through a transformation having watched us knock out Sparta Prague, and having seen the...

My feelings towards the Europa League have gone through a transformation having watched us knock out Sparta Prague, and having seen the teams left in the last 16. There’s already been a lot of chat about which competitions we should commit to the most, but my priorities have changed, and I’m interested to see if anybody else’s have?

I have to say that I surprised by the excitement I felt while watching Chelsea in the Europa League over the last week. I’ve always respected the Europa League as a cracking competition and recognised how difficult it is to win, but I didn’t expect to feel as excited watching Chelsea take part in it as I did.

I’m a little ashamed to say this was maybe because I’d become a bit of a Champions League snob having been a part of it for so many years, culminating in us becoming European Champions! This isn’t to say that I didn’t want Chelsea to forget about the Europa League, on the contrary from the moment we joined it I have wanted to win it, but I was never as passionate about it as I was with the Champions League.

Obviously the Champions League is the pinnacle of European football, and doing well in / winning the Europa league will not quite be the same, but I have nonetheless developed some new-found enthusiasm for us to take this as seriously as we would the Champions league.

I hope everyone else feels the same enthusiasm as me and I respect everyone who didn’t need to be reminded of what it is like to take part in this competition. There has been a lot of discussion as to how much commitment we should make towards this competition with our team selection and I hope we play the strongest teams possible. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t sacrifice 4th place for the Europa League, and I would say the same about the Champions League (we may have managed it last year but the risk of sacrificing 4th place for European glory is realistically to great). I just don’t want to look back on the season and say that we didn’t take it as seriously as we could have (within reason).

It just so happens that I see a great opportunity in the Europa League as well. Before the second legs began last night, there were 5 teams that I feared: Inter Milan, Napoli, Athletico Madrid, Liverpool and Ajax. Four of those five are now out! There are still some big teams left, but for one reason or another those were the teams that would have given me a horrible feeling if drawn against (Until they got knocked out I was very nervous about the prospect of Ajax).

There are still plenty of dangerous teams of course, Tottenham, Benfica, etc, but I still consider the competition to be a little weaker than it usually is at this stage. I hope we try and live up to our position as favourites, and be successful in Europe without the title of “underdog”. It would be awesome for Chelsea to go into next season as a European Champion once again.

Follow me on twitter: @cody_bound

Find your Chelsea tickets at Viagogo!

Carefree & KTBFFH!

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