During this whole Europa League tournament I have heard and read criticism of the Europa League. Some soccer fans and critics might feel the tournament is not that important. I have read comments to my own stories that if Fulham won they would only be the 17th best team in Europe. I have also read comments that this journey that Fulham was on in the Europa League was a nice story, but not really that important. My question to these critics and fans is did you actually watch the Europa League matches this year?
If any fan or critic did not watch this tournament I think you missed out on some great football. I have to say this Europa League was not just about Fulham. I will tell you below the "5 reasons why I think the Europa League was worth watching and not just for Fulham fans."
I was exposed to teams I normally would not watch. I found watching teams from different countries fascinating. I was able to see Fulham play FC Basel form Switzerland, CSKA Sofia from Bulgaria, Shakhtar Donetsk from the Ukraine, and Amkar Perm from Russia. Fulham, in different rounds played home and away matches to these clubs.I really got to respect just how phenominal a club Shakhtar Donetsk turns out to be. I never would have been able to appreciate that club without the Europa League.
I watched and appreciated players I had just heard and read about prior to the Europa League. Before this League I had only heard about Edin Dzeko. By watching Fulham play Wolfsburg I now see why he is a player in such demand. I also got to appreciate players like Diego Forlan, Mladen Petric, and Sergio Aguero.
I got to see many different styles of football. I have to admit I watch mostly the English Premier League. The Europa League exposed me to different styles of football from the many leagues in Europe. I got to see teams from the Bundesliga, Serie A, Russian Premier League, and La Liga. It was fascinating to see Fulham play against different styles of football.
The Europa League offered European football to a smaller mid level club. A club like Fulham might never play in the Champions League. Who knows the next time Fulham will play in Europe again? This was a chance to see my team be rewarded for a great season the year before. Fulham took this tournament seriously.
The best reason to watch the Europa League was the quality of competition. Is the Europa League the same competition as the Champions League? The answer to that question is "no". But, the teams that played in this competition wanted to win. The games were exciting and extremely competitive. Fulham played against the current German Champions, last year's UEFA Cup Champions, a Bundesliga power, the current Europa League Champions, and a Serie A legendary team. I never thought I would see Fulham play these type of clubs in one competition in my life.
In concluding, some fans and critics can laugh at the Europa League. If I am a fan of Aston Villa and Manchester City I would be watching the Europa League next year. Your clubs have a chance to win a League that I think is very good.
Fulham will not be competing in the Europa League next year. I will still be watching the Europa League matches. I appreciate the quality of the competition that will be in this league next year.