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Why European glory is key for Premier League

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The Premier League has been lauded as the greatest on the planet for many years.

European glory over the past three days has confirmed it is indeed the best.

Lingering doubts about the PL’s elite not being able to get near the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona have been blown out of the water.

‘Your teams are good, England, but can they conquer Europe? Hmmm…’ None of that chat from continental Europe anymore. For the brand and/or the image of the league, being the best of the best is important. EuroLeague basketball is good, but we know the NBA is the best.

[ MORE: Liverpool stun Barca | Spurs shock Ajax ]

The Premier League is now the undisputed top dog in the soccer world, with La Liga, Serie A and the Bundesliga knowing it has a heck of a job to try and catch up.

For the first time in history all four finalists in the UEFA Champions League and Europa League finals are from the same country, England, with Tottenham v. Liverpool and Chelsea v. Arsenal the lineup for the respective finals over the next few weeks.

Managers from across the league have applauded Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri in their press conferences on Friday, as there is a shared happiness and pride at seeing their colleagues, and rivals, dominate Europe. Because it wasn’t just the semifinal success. PL clubs were rampant in the group stages and battered some of Europe’s elite teams on their way to the finals with swashbuckling, gritty and tactically flexible displays.

This is a monumental moment for the Premier League.

Giants have finally delivered with huge player wages, massive investment in youth development and the ability to hire the best coaches all now bearing fruit.

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )
(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images )

The success of this season underlines the greatness of the PL, and puts recent European struggles firmly in the rearview mirror. The importance of usurping the rest of European soccer cannot be underestimated when it comes to the growing positive image of the Premier League in the global game, as a timely ego-boost has arrived for this juggernaut of a league. Alongside a historic title race between Man City and Liverpool, this European success story adds further fuel to the fire that the PL is head and shoulders above the rest.

For so long the best paid players and coaches have flocked to the PL, but cycles of European success have swung from Italy to Spain to Germany and then back to Spain. The gruelling PL season and no winter break was given as one reason why English teams struggled in Europe, but we all know that was a weak excuse.

Now it is the turn of England, and the Premier League, to shine.

Dramatic comebacks from Liverpool and Tottenham against Barcelona and Ajax kicked things off in dramatic fashion this week, then Arsenal and Chelsea finished things off nicely against Valencia and Frankfurt to complete the clean sweep.

In Madrid on June 1 and Baku on May 29, two finals will showcase the brilliance of the PL as fierce rivals will lock horns and the drama and power of England’s top-flight will be rammed down the throats of everyone on the global stage.

But we shouldn’t overlook the fact that certain circumstances have played into the hands of Premier League clubs this season.

(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

Real Madrid have been a mess. Lionel Messi aside, this is not a vintage Barcelona side. Bayern Munich is in transition. Juventus relied on Cristiano Ronaldo too heavily. Atletico Madrid have been off. And PSG are, well, just PSG, as they crumbled in the knockout stages once again. In the Europa League, only Napoli and Valencia were real dangers to Arsenal and Chelsea. If there was going to be any year for the PL to dominate, this was it.

The Premier League has made the most of its chance to surge to the top of the tree in Europe and now comes the hard bit.

Only once in history has there been an all-English Champions League final: 2008 as Man United beat Chelsea in Moscow. In the 10 finals since then, only three Premier League teams have been among the 20 UCL finalists. An era of Spanish and German domination followed, as English clubs took their eye off the ball and the Premier League has had a mark next to its name over the last decade, with Chelsea the only winner since 2008.

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

European success during the 2018-19 campaign is a ringing endorsement of everything the Premier League now stands for, and it should now provide a platform for continued success.

Just as the rest of Europe is looking towards the UK from a political standpoint as Brexit continues to dominate the headlines, the rest of Europe is now looking at the Premier League with envy as clubs have found the perfect formula to succeed in Europe.

That is: Big spending, the best coaches and putting sustainable structures in place for future success with youth academies as the English national team has proved in various international tournaments over the past few years.

Continuing that success is key for the PL’s global status as the best league on the planet. Spending money to attract the best coaches to nurture star players in order to create a wonderful domestic league is one thing.

Beating all of your European competitors to prove you are the best is the cherry on top the Premier League needed, and now has.

WATCH: Zlatan stunner answers Vela’s opener in El Trafico

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic is walking it like he talks it, not that that’s anything new.

A few days after claiming superiority over LAFC superstar Carlos Vela, Ibrahimovic and his Galaxy trailed early in El Trafico via a Vela penalty.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Naturally, Zlatan took it upon himself to answer the bell with his 14th goal in 17 games.

Ibrahimovic chests a long ball onto his right foot, cooking Eduard Atuesta by pushing it into position for a tremendous lash into the LAFC goal.

And if you haven’t been following LAFC’s amazing season, Atuesta’s probably been the side’s best player after Vela, who now has 20 goals in 20 games.

Wizard stuff.

Borussia Dortmund tops Liverpool 3-2 at Notre Dame

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A half-hour of the big guns wasn’t enough to get Jurgen Klopp a result against his former team.

Harry Wilson and Rhian Brewster scored for Liverpool in a 3-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund at the University of Notre Dame on Friday.

Paco Alcacer, Thomas Delaney, and Jacob Bruun Larsen scored for the Black Yellow, who led 3-1 when mass changes began with Virgil Van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, and Andrew Robertson entering the match.

Liverpool faces Sevilla on Sunday at Fenway Park in Boston.

[ MORE: Latest on Eriksen ]

Alcacer with the ball in the box is a bad idea, and the Spaniard took advantage of Nathaniel Clyne and Joel Matip to smash home from a yard outside the six.

Wilson leveled the score before halftime, but Delaney made it 2-1 in the 53rd minute when a long diagonal ball beat the Reds line and a low pass across the box went undetected.

It was 3-1 via a clever Bruun Larsen touch to wrong foot James Milner, but Brewster brought the Reds back to within one when he converted a 75th minute penalty won by Ben Woodburn.

Liverpool was without Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mohamed Salah, who are on break after deep summer tournament runs.

Eriksen offered big Spurs wages, but Atletico Madrid lurks

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Christian Eriksen may trade London for Madrid after all, but Marca claims it’ll be Real Madrid’s rivals who earn the services of Tottenham’s Danish playmaker.

Eriksen, 27, scored 10 goals with 17 assists for Spurs in all competitions last season, and was reportedly ready to spread his wings for Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Kean to Everton? ]

But pro-Real site Marca says Zinedine Zidane doesn’t want Eriksen at the Bernabeu, and that Diego Simeone feels differently… should Atletico Madrid fail at landing his prime option.

That’s James Rodriguez, who remains property of Real and that’s a problem.

So Eriksen to Atleti, helping to replace Antoine Griezmann? It’s possible.

From Marca.com:

Just last November, the London club put a 250 million euro price tag on his head, but now appear keen to move him on. The next few days will likely reveal a lot about what’s to come.

So we may get an idea of whether this report has any guts to it by next week. There could be some sense to it, but Metro claims that Spurs are offering Eriksen an “enormous” contract to keep him in North London.

Enormous means a doubling of Eriksen’s wages, and the Dane is said to be happy in England. Might Spurs hold off the finest of La Liga and Serie A after all.

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club. He could join Michael Keane, if he’s keen.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.