An Inside Story: Why are EPL Clubs failing to thrive well at the Europena Stage?


It has been another disappointing season for the Premier League clubs in the European stage as only two teams out of six could make it to the last eight. City’s win over Dynamo Kyiv and Liverpool’s win over rivals Manchester United were the only bright spot as all the other four teams failed to make a mark.

Chelsea were the last team to taste success at the European stage when they won the Champions League and the Europa League in consecutive seasons back in 2012 and 2013. Since then, the Premier League clubs have not done well in European competitions. Over the past three years or so, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have been a cut above the rest of the clubs and all other big clubs are playing catch-up to them. Even though English clubs are good, they are not good enough to overcome the big three i.e Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. The reason for their below-par performances again and again in the big stage are analysed below.

Tactical Failings

The Premier League clubs’ failure appears to be down to tactics. They do not play smartly and do not vary their approach. They do not seem to play with the same flair as they do while playing in the Premier League. They also do not pay ample amount of respect to their opponents and as a result often end up being on the losing side. The clubs are too direct in the way they approach matches and are quite predictable most of the times. As a result,the other European clubs come up with better tactics and ideas and end up winning against much stronger English clubs.

Financial Stability

The Premier League clubs are financially quite strong. They are able to buy quality players from all over Europe to make their squad stronger and competitive. Even the mid-table clubs or the clubs that are placed at the bottom of the league are financially very stable and can easily pay a huge amount of money to bring quality players to their teams. This makes most of the teams equally strong and as a result, the big clubs who are aiming to win the title are forced to play their first eleven virtually every game. This is not the case with the other leagues such as the La Liga or Bundesliga, where Barcelona or Real Madrid or Bayern Munich have some pretty straightforward games. Therefore, they are much better prepared to face stronger opponents when it comes to the European stage.

Defensive Deficiencies

Arguments about the competitiveness of the Premier League and lack of world-class performers simply shift the focus from the real problems of the clubs and coaches, ignoring the importance of defensive organization and discipline. English clubs have been defensively poor when it comes to the European stage conceding cheap goals quite often. The quality of defending by English clubs has fallen behind those on the continent. To be successful in Europe, the clubs must focus on their defence which has been a key to success for every successful European club.

Tough Competition

The Premier League is one of the most intensive leagues in Europe . It is a physically demanding league, where the games are more draining. There are no easy fixtures in the Premier League. Each and every team plays with the same intensity. The bottom most team in the league has every chance of defeating the team at the top of the table. So in order to win the league, not a single match can be taken lightly. Every player has to be on their toes to try and clinch a win every game which takes a lot out of the players. But this is not the case when it comes to other leagues. Most of the top teams from the other leagues have relatively easier games which give their manager an extra space to rest their best players for key European clashes.

Lack of Winter Break and extra Cup Competition

The clubs of other European leagues have a winter break as well as one less cup competition to worry about. English clubs play a lot of games in a season. As a result there is hardly any time for the players to take rest. The other European clubs are well rested and ready to go for the knockout stages of the Champions League and the Europa league. Premier League clubs have to play week in week out and inevitably, their performances drop down when it comes to the European nights. The players get tired and fail to deliver.


English clubs have taken European oppositions too lightly because they had become too used to winning easily in the group stages. Most of the times they easily go on to the knockout stages without facing any real competition. But when it comes to the knockout stages they are outclassed by their opponents. The English clubs are just not well prepared to prevail over good quality European clubs.

What’s your reason behind your favourite EPL Club failing it to deliver at the European Stage?