Forget Brexit, English clubs can't get enough of Europe


The Premier League's domination of this season's two European club competitions is as resounding and unequivocal as can be.

As Britain 'deals' with the far-reaching ramifications of Brexit, there is no doubt that English clubs are feeling very much at home in Europe.

Four Premier League teams will contest this year's finals of the UEFA Europa League and UEFA Champions League.

Arsenal and Chelsea meet in a London derby with a difference in Azerbaijan's capital Baku on Thursday (AEST) while Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur clash for the big one in Madrid three days later.

It is not the first time that one country has provided the finalists of a major continental competition but both sets of finalists coming from a single league is unprecedented.

Italy's Serie A at its peak never had this luxury and neither did Spain's La Liga or Germany's Bundesliga.

Which begs the billion-dollar question: is this a fluke or a sign of things to come?

The answer does not jump out at you ... it probably lies somewhere in between.

There was nothing flukish about the Premier League's success.

With loads of money being pumped into the popular competition that is followed around the world, English clubs are making the most of the largesse shown by the world's biggest entrepreneurs and corporations.

The Premier League is such a top product for television that battlers Huddersfield Town's share of television money for this season will surpass that of Spanish front-runners Atletico Madrid.

Yet history teaches us that money alone does not guarantee success.

It is all well and good for clubs to be able to acquire almost any star player money can buy but this spending power should be combined with a style of football to match the demands of the modern game for it to reap the desired results.

The importation of such highly regarded foreign managers like Carlo Ancelotti, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino plus a plethora of stars has helped 'Europeanise' the English game without it losing touch with its traditional values centred on speed and aggression.

The results have been spectacular, particularly this season.

Mohamed Salah's free-scoring Liverpool have become a feared side once again while Christian Eriksen's Spurs, who will be playing in their first European Cup/Champions League final, have taken their game to a new level.

The way the Reds came back from the dead to knock out Barcelona in the semi-finals amply demonstrated their attacking quality and big-game temperament.

Spurs similarly recovered from three goals down in the semi-final against Ajax to sneak into the Wanda Metropolitano final with a last-gasp winner from Lucas Moura.

Spurs' feat was even more remarkable because they were forced to do it without injured striker Harry Kane, who is touch and go for the final.

Neutral fans would be entitled to assume that the Premier League is poised to dominate European football for years to come, particularly since the two Manchester clubs City and United sooner or later must come into serious consideration for ultimate honours.

Who knows? We might be on the verge of revisiting the late 1970s and early 1980s when English clubs won six straight European Cup titles and seven in eight seasons.

Such a dominance is unlikely to be repeated, however.

La Liga will come back strongly as it always does with perennial powerhouses Barcelona and Real Madrid determined to strengthen their squads in the coming weeks.

The same can be said of the Bundesliga's Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, although the German giants do not have as much spending power as their Spanish or English counterparts.

There have been signs of a revival in Serie A, thanks largely to the classy contributions of Juventus and Napoli and it could be only a matter of time before the Italians become as competitive as they were more than a decade ago.

The next few seasons could be very interesting.

One thing is for sure ... there is no denying that England is the capital of European club football at the moment.