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Futbol Chronicles: Europa League Could Provide a European Spectacle

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - MAY 20:  Shakhtar Donetsk owner Rinat Akhmetov and Darijo Srna celebrate with the trophy following their team's victory after extra time at the end of the UEFA Cup Final between Shakhtar Donetsk and Werder Bremen at the Sukru Saracoglu Stadium on May 20, 2009 in Istanbul, Turkey.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IAugust 18, 2009

The quality of the clubs currently involved in the Europe League playoff may provide observers an indication of where the tournament is truly evolving.

Last year, the Europa League had officially ended its season under its former name, the UEFA Cup, with Ukrainian upstarts Shakhtkar Donetsk winning the cup at the expense of German outfit Werder Bremen.

Under the new format, the Europa League will comprise of 48 teams in a group stage, where a home and away format is played, and where the top two clubs of each group advances to the knockout round.

It is entirely part of a revamping of club football by UEFA, who are hoping to give the newly formatted UEFA Cup a greater emphasis and importance in terms of club football.

The UEFA Champions League is widely known to have been the more superior club competition, but UEFA are hoping that the newly-formatted Europa League also provides a greater jolt of prestige under its new moniker.

One positive aspect of the Europa League so far is the amount of quality clubs currently competing in the playoff format, not to mention the potential of quality clubs such as Atletic Madrid, Celtic, or Fiorentina or Sporting Lisboa to drop down to the group stages.

Among the current club participants in the Europa League playoff are: AS Roma, Valencia CF, Fulham and Everton FC, SS Lazio, Genoa, Aston Villa, Werder Breman, Hertha Berlin, Ajax Amsterdam, defending champions Shakhtkar Donetsk, and so on.

So perhaps, with these clubs currently in contention, it is worth noting that the Europa League would have as much to offer to the table for fans of European club football alas the Champions League.

Only time will tell if UEFA's new club experiment can live up to it's new billing, or else.

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