Everyone is so very keen to pan the Europa League, detailing how those teams that qualify for it struggle in the league to contend with trips to places like Qarabag and Ankara, and they suffer for it overall. I’m never convinced of such things, so I thought that a little bit of analysis from the last season, now its over, might clear things up a little.
I’ve started with France, simply because they were the last league I noted down, but they’ve also only got six entrants, so its slightly less work.
This graph shows the points per games each of those six teams acquired, firstly overall (as in, in reality) and then, the grey bar, in games directly after European involvement – most played more than six games in Europe, though Lyon only two. The red bar is the figure from games that weren’t after European competition.
So that goes, then; the red bar is higher for most – Monaco excepted – suggesting that European competition is generally a bad thing for league form, be it Champions League or Europa League. There are a few anomalies here, of course. Guingamp’s sole post-European win came against a PSG side fresh from a defeat at the hands of Barcelona, which is mitigating. Equally, one of their defeats was a preposterous 2-7 humbling by Nice – that was directly after a trip to Minsk.
So, all those together, contributed to create a league table that looked a little bit like this (this is the actual table).
Then, following that, is how the table would look if European football was factored out (as in, if those games after European games were taken out of the equation) with those teams that would ‘improve’ their position in green, and those that would be neutral in yellow. I left Monaco as a ‘constant’ as they were practically identical in either case, so they have only lost out because of St Etienne’s boost. Of course, that couldn’t happen, because those games that they weren’t losing would be lost by another team instead, but its illustrative of how teams MIGHT miss out in this situation.
This is pretty much data gathering as I look to something bigger across all five league, but as an interest point, I thought it was worth a post. Expect more over the next few days.