Sevilla CF became the first club to benefit from UEFA’s recent change of regulations which meant that winners of the Europa League from the 2014/2015 season would automatically qualify for the Champions League.
This means going into next season, Spain will have a record 5 clubs competing in club football’s elite competition: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and of course Sevilla themselves.
With an all-Spanish Champions League final last season where Real Madrid finally completed ‘La Decima’ and this year’s final in Berlin seeing Juventus take on a Barca side who are nothing short of unstoppable right now, it’s hard to envisage when Spain’s dominance of European club football will ever end.
Indeed many believed the end was nigh for Iberian football just two seasons ago following a double German upset in the semi-finals of the Champions League.
After a 4-3 aggregate victory over Real Madrid from Jurgen Klopp’s burgeoning Borussia Dortmund side and a 7-0 aggregate mullering from their fierce rivals Bayern Munich over a seemingly untouchable Barcelona, many believed the writing was already on the wall.
But fast forward two years and it seems that a flawless club philosophy (Barcelona) and a bank account with an almost infinite amount of 0’s (Real Madrid and also Barca to a certain extent) has propelled Spanish football back to the top of the European ladder and with other so-called second tier clubs such as Atletico Madrid also proving themselves to be competitive in the domestic and European football arena, TV disputes and player strikes aside, Spanish football is only getting stronger…and it’s scary.
And from an equally terrifying English football fan’s point of view, the Premier League which was once highly regarded as the ‘best league in the world’ or should I say highly marketed as ‘the best league in the world’ is a club competition heading in a downward spiral.
In 2008, Chelsea and Manchester United fans witnessed an all-English Champions League final; just seven years later not a single club made it past the round of 16 with Chelsea and Arsenal in particular, crashing out of the competition with barely a whimper.
Borussia Dortmund’s implosion in the Bundesliga this season is evidence that there really is only one team in Germany, the same team that were soundly beaten by the aforementioned unstoppable Barcelona side in the Champions League semi-final just a few short weeks ago.
And whilst it’s true French beneficiaries of foreign investment such as AS Monaco and Paris Saint Germain have forced themselves to be taken more seriously in recent times, they only need to take one hard look at Manchester City, a club that should be the subject of a harsh lesson to any fledgling club on the hunt for a sugar daddy that money doesn’t always mean success.
And much like the German Bundesliga, Italian football’s top flight is indeed also a one club contest with Juventus’ resounding 17 point victory of this season’s Serie A championship over AS Roma clear evidence of that.