Europa League is a huge pain the rear. We all know that, and apparently the players and managers of our favorite clubs know that, too.
First, there’s all the extra games that go along with being in Europe’s second-tier competition (without the financial windfall of the continent’s elite tournament, the Champions League). Then there’s the Thursday night games, which pushes every league game to Sunday following a European week.
To go along with those less than desirable Thursday-Sunday back-to-backs, there’s the extreme travel of often times visiting remote countries, only to return home 48 hours later. Not to mention all the extra preparation time lost ahead of the weekend’s league game.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, navigating his first season of European competition, is the latest top-flight manager to learn the not-so-beautiful side of the Europa League, as his Spurs side looks all but certain to miss out on Champions League qualification once again.
Pochettino, on the extra challenges Europa League presents, from the Guardian:
The Europa League is not an easy competition, it’s a very tough competition because it affects your domestic league. It was my opinion when I was at Southampton, when I was asked a lot about this and, having had a Europa League season, I can now confirm that it is very difficult to manage the Europa League with the Premier League and both cups.”
“I think that you spend a lot of energy when you play in the Europa League and it’s not easy. It’s true that the experience of last season with Liverpool and now with Manchester United – I think that is a clear example that you will have the opportunity to stay closer to the top four, if you only have to focus on the Premier League and the cups.”
This year’s added bonus of qualifying for the following year’s Champions League by winning the Europa League certainly gives teams added incentive to go all-out on Thursday nights, but most sides still have more to gain from resting their top players for a league game two days later.