The UEFA Europa League, previously known as the UEFA Cup, is an annual competition featuring some of the best clubs from all around the European continent.
Ever since the competition was officially established as the UEFA Cup in 1971, 27 different European clubs have managed to win this decorated title, with 12 of those teams managing to clinch it more than once.
Top clubs like Ajax, Bayern Munich, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, and Real Madrid are some of the European titans to have won this tournament in the past. Spanish outfit Sevilla are the current holders of this trophy, and they also hold the record of winning this title the most number of times (5).
The Europa League has had an ever-growing fan base due to the high quality teams and football featured in it, and many believe that it is on the verge of eclipsing the UEFA Champions League as the best and most exciting football competition of Europe.
Let us take a look at 4 reasons why the Europa League can currently be considered better than the Champions League:
1. More Teams, More Football
The Europa League consists of 48 teams in total during the Group Stage, out of which 16 teams directly enter the groups, and a further 32 enter via the qualifying rounds. Furthermore, 8 more teams get transferred to the Europa League knockout stages straightaway from the Champions League.
In comparison, the Champions League has 32 teams in total from the Group Stage onwards, out of which 22 automatically enter the groups, and the remaining slots are taken up by the 10 sides who come through via the qualifying rounds.
In all, the Europa League boasts a total of 133 games from the Group Stage onwards (474 including qualification rounds), whereas the Champions League hosts merely 77 (217 including qualification).
And for a die-hard football fan, more football is always, ALWAYS better!
2. Consists Of Top Teams
The Europa League easily consists of some of the best teams in Europe.
Major powerhouses like Manchester United, Fenerbahce, AS Roma, Ajax, and Inter Milan are already competing in the ongoing Group Stages, along with equally competitive teams like Feyenoord, Olympiacos, AS Saint Étienne, Zenit Saint Petersburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Schalke 04, Fiorentina, and many more.
The quality of these aforementioned teams is definitely much higher than some of the minnow teams competing in the Champions League, like Ludogorets, FC Rostov, Legia Warszawa, Club Brugge KV, and Dinamo Zagreb, amongst others.
And let’s not forget that 8 more elite teams are yet to join the Europa League, as all the 3rd-placed teams from the Champions League’s Groups will enter this tournament and fill up the spots to create a fiercely competitive Round of 32 Stage.
3. Much Less Predictable Than The Champions League
Despite the presence of some of Europe’s best teams, the Europa League remains a majorly unpredictable competition.
Take the 2014-15 season as an example, when Ukrainian outfit FC Dnipro managed to reach the final of the competition, only to face defeat at the hands of Sevilla. And speaking of Sevilla, did you know that they are the only club to have won the Europa League three times in a row?
Meanwhile, no club has yet managed to defend their Champions League crown by winning the competition for two successive seasons, in spite of clubs like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Juventus being consistently (and predictably) present in the advanced stages of the tournament.
That’s what makes the Europa League bizarre and unpredictable! There’s simply no way to predict, and no safe bets.
4. Promising Young Starlets On Display
We rarely see a manager field his club’s young and emerging talents in the Champions League. However, that’s never the case in the Europa League.
Numerous top clubs make full use of Europa to promote their promising starlets, so as to give them the valuable experience of European football. Watching stars of tomorrow consistently play for their teams is a high and exciting possibility in this tournament.
But that in no way means that the Europa League is a competition meant only for squad players and youth prospects.
Decorated veterans like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Francesco Totti, and Esteban Cambiasso, along with world-class players like Wayne Rooney, Samir Handanovic, Robin van Persie, Kevin Strootman, Juan Mata, Alexandre Pato, David De Gea, and the world’s most expensive footballer, Paul Pogba, amongst numerous others, have already featured heavily in the competition so far this season.
These players, and this tournament altogether, is a joy to watch for every dedicated football fan, and it continues to attract more viewers everyday, simply due to its sheer unpredictable and exciting nature.
With the first half of the Group Stages already concluded, the Europa League is set to return with more action at the beginning of November, and we simply cannot wait for it to resume!