2018-2019 season of European football is nearly at the finish line. Premier League, the most competitive league of them all, has ended but the campaign of its representatives is still in progress. So it shouldn’t be a surprise for you that English teams dominated another episode of “Europe Throne”, OneHash list of the best clubs on the continent.
- England’s complete dominance
- Ajax’s sorrow
- Barcelona’s shame
- Liverpool (two up)
If there was some team that could pull up an incredible and come back from three-goal first-leg deficit, then what else than Liverpool? Historical remontada against Barcelona in the Champions League's semi-finals didn’t turn around The Reds’ season as a whole, the team still finished second in the Premier League. It’s even quite possible that Liverpool will end up this year with no trophy, nevertheless Juergen Klopp’s boys deserve all the praise they get.
Liverpool's 97 points was the third-best season in the Premier League’s history, yet it didn’t give the title. Klopp said that his players are near to perfection. He was right. Now The Reds have three weeks to get even closer to perfection in the Champions League’s final against Tottenham. They simply deserve some silverware this season, however remember that football is much beautiful as cruel game. Liverpool got to know both parts of the story.
2. Manchester City (two up)
Pep Guardiola has become only third manager in the Premier League’s history to secure back-to-back titles. Spaniard himself said that this year’s title means more to him than the first one. No wonder that Guardiola is so proud of his team. They survive a lot of during this campaign and finished above simply phenomenal Liverpool in the best chase of the Premier League’s 27 years. Citizens have a chance for another historical achievement. On Saturday the play against Watford in the final of the FA Cup, with a one of its kind, domestic treble in mind. Will complete domination over English football help Manchester forget about European failures? Maybe not completely, but hey, it’s way better than nothing.
3. Tottenham (two up)
Mauricio Pochettino described his players as superheroes after the end of the Premier League’s season. Argentinian had a point maybe not in the sense of domestic football, his players won only one from five last league’s matches, though in Europe The Spurs did a lot more than they could and should do. Magical advance to the Champions League’s final could be treated as this team’s peak of dreams, so now they don’t have any pressure. They went through without Harry Kane, team’s best striker and the most important player. They were in the shadow of better known, richer and more-titled rivals the whole continental season. They were even underdogs after first leg of rivalry with Ajax, but afterwards they go to Madrid. With nothing to lose and an eternity to win.
4. Ajax (two down)
Everyone who reads this column has full right to consider us a monothematic bandwagoners of Ajax. Well then, it’s not that hard to admit that we are them. And now we’re as devastated as young guns from Amsterdam. Their Champions League’s journey was a beautiful fairytale with very bad, heart-breaking ending. In one moment of rivalry with Tottenham Ajax had three goals advantage over Londoners, yet it still wasn’t enough. The pain. The rage. The grief. It was all too real, absolutely not for people with weak nerves. Fortunately, players from Amsterdam are tough and they bounce back from European heartbreak. Due to 4-1 win over Utrecht and PSV’s 1-0 defeat to AZ Alkmaar, Ajax is on the brink of Eredivie’s title with one game remaining. Chance for a domestic double waits on Wednesday, in an away game against De Graafschap.
5. FC Barcelona (four down)
While Ajax could feel sad and tearful, Barcelona should be ashamed. The team did almost everything to end this season with treble, but disappeared for the most important 90 minutes of European campaign. They did it again, they blew a three-goal lead in the second consecutive season of the Champions League. One remaining round of already-secured LaLiga won’t matter. Spanish Cup’s final will be only to wipe away tears. Not Lionel Messi’s records and fantastic performances. Not domestic double. Not three of four won El Clasicos. Shame will be the only thing that’s left from this Barcelona’s season.
6. Chelsea (two up)
The Europe League’s final and third place in the Premier League - this season wasn’t so bad for The Blues after all. Under Maurizio Sarri Chelsea had its ups and downs, nevertheless the team secured the Champions League’s spot and now has a chance for a title. Maybe not the most prestigious one, but a silverware is still a silverware.
”It could obviously be better but I think we have to be happy and enjoy these days” - Mateo Kovacic sees the glass half full, though in next season it can be half empty. Everything relies on Eden Hazard. Belgian superstar already revealed that he made a decision about his future. Will he remain Chelsea’s talisman or will he chase his dreams of playing in Real Madrid? Share your thoughts in the comments.
7. Bayern Munich (one down)
Bavarians are on course to win their seventh straight league’s title. In the last round of Bundesliga’s season they will host Eintracht, draw against rival from Frankfurt will be sufficient for Niko Kovac’s boys. However, the tension of championship chase is not even that high. While Kovac is confident of clinching title, German press thinks mostly of ways how to improve the squad of the best team in the country. Timo Werner? Christian Eriksen? Maybe someone else? Bayern prepares itself for a summer filled with transfers. Together with the rest of the Bundesliga's teams, pretty afraid of what’s waiting for them in the next season.
8. Atalanta (one up)
It’s one of those stories that we all love. The one similar to Ajax’s story. Modest squad, even more modest budget, but as well a great coach, team’s amazing mentality and an offensive style - it all pulls together a lovely Cinderella story that can bring even the podium of Serie A to small city of Bergamo. After Saturday’s 2-1 win over Genoa, Atalanta moved third in league’s table. Now Gian Pero Gasperini’s players have only two games left - this weekend’s trip to Juventus and hosting Sassuolo at the final round of the season - to fulfill their unexpected dream of playing in the Champions League. Yet it’s still not the end. Atalanta waits for Wednesday’s final of Coppa Italia against Lazio. If Gasperini's men succeed in both mission, then they will be the biggest winners of this season in Italian football.
9. Arsenal (re entry)
It was a strange year for Arsenal. The Gunners didn’t return to the Premier League’s top four and finished fifth in the table, yet there was some joy in North London. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang proved that he is the right man in the right place by sharing Premier League golden boot with Liverpool’s aces Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The African trio tied on 22 goals, but Aubameyang is still capable of securing another individual prize. He has eight goals in the Europa League, chasing Oliver Giroud and Luka Jovic, each with ten goals. Arsenal will play Chelsea for Europe League’s dominance in more than two weeks, the victory gives The Gunners a spot in the next season’s Champions League. Game is undoubtedly worth the candle. For both Arsenal and Aubameyang.
10. Lille (re entry)
It has been six seasons since Lille’s last Champions League's journey. The team played in the group stage of 2012-2013 season and later vanished from the most prestigious competition in continental football. Apparently LOSC’s exile won’t last longer, the team is already in play-offs of the Champions League, with big hope for the group stage. Loic Remy scored a winner in 1-0 victory over Bordeaux on Sunday and put the team on the verge of return to the European elite. Lille have two games to play and need only one point to secure second place in the table. Sunday’s home game against Angers will be the team’s next but one test.