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English dominance clear as Premier League quartet contest European football's two major finals

One of Liverpool and Tottenham will be crowned champions of Europe, while Chelsea and Arsenal meet in the climax of the Europa League.

Liverpool v Barcelona - UEFA Champions League - Semi Final - Second Leg - Anfield Messrs Klopp, Pochettino, Emery and Sarri. Source: Press Association

THE PREMIER LEAGUE has marked its return to prominence on the European stage in a week punctuated by spellbinding drama with Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur set to meet in just the second all-English Champions League final next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal then ensured the success of English teams won’t just be limited to the continent’s top club competition, both reaching the Europa League showpiece to give the Premier League an unprecedented four European finalists, the first time there has been such a sweep.

Only twice before in European football — the 1972 Uefa Cup (Tottenham v Wolves) and 2008 Champions League (Man United v Chelsea) — had two English teams contested a final, but two improbable comebacks guaranteed another such clash on 1 June in Madrid.

In total, the Champions League final has been contested six times by clubs from the same nation, while the number is eight when it comes to Uefa Cup/Europa League finals.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Final - Real Madrid v Valencia Real Madrid and Valencia met in an all-Spanish Champions League final in 2000 -- the first time it happened in the competition. Source: EMPICS Sport

Liverpool, last year’s runners-up to Real Madrid, ended Spain’s five-year grip on the continent’s top club prize as they shocked Lionel Messi and Barcelona — their stunning 4-0 win at Anfield inspiring Tottenham to a fightback every bit as inconceivable 24 hours later.

Despite record broadcast deals bringing in billions from around the globe, English clubs have been out-thought and out-played at Champions League level over the past decade.

Yet while Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich have dominated at home in recent years, no club has retained the Premier League title since Manchester United in 2009, in Cristiano Ronaldo’s final season at Old Trafford.

The constant grind of England’s top six vying every season for just four Champions League places allows nobody to rest on their laurels, on the pitch or off it in the recruitment process.

Crucially, the Premier League now also boasts not only money, but world-class coaching that has been given time to build.

Pep Guardiola is in his third season as City manager, Jurgen Klopp in his fourth at Liverpool and Pochettino near the end of season five at Spurs.

“The level of the Premier League I think is clear,” said Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, whose turbulent first season in England could finish on an unexpected high with a top-four place already secured.

If you consider we got to the final in the League Cup and we had to play against Liverpool, Tottenham and the final against Man City you have an idea about the level.”

Sarri will now pit his wits against Unai Emery as Chelsea face Arsenal in the Europa League final in Baku on 29 May.

Chelsea needed a penalty shoot-out to beat Eintracht Frankfurt in their Europa League semi-final while a Pierre-Emerick Aubayemang hat-trick took the Gunners to a 4-2 win over Valencia for a 7-3 aggregate.

The final will be Arsenal’s first in Europe since they lost the 2006 Champions League to Barcelona.

© AFP 2019

Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella and Bernard Jackman tee up Saturday’s Champions Cup final and look at the backroom problems in Munster.:


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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