While Europe and the North American continent salivate over the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Neymar during Champions League nights, the real fun and the most bang for your entertainment value may actually be taking place on Thursday’s…in the Europa League.
It’s no secret that most see the Europa League as an inferior competition, however that doesn’t mean it is an inferior product on the field. For ever great goal Ronaldo is scoring there are two or three equally (if not more) ridiculous efforts happening on Thursday’s across the whole of Europe.
This Thursday was a great example of that, specifically as Tottenham Hotspur took on “legendary” Greek side Asteras Tripolis. When the final whistle blew the scoreline read 5-1 to the Spurs favor, and that meant blowout city.
Except, that also meant ignoring how it became 5-1 and the amazing efforts put up by the likes of Argentinian Erik Lamela and English striker Harry Kane.
Exhibit A came on the second goal of the game, as Lamela decided to get all fancy on us and go the Rabona route from the top of the box.
When’s the last time you saw that in a Champions League match?
Then there was the case of Harry Kane’s hattrick of goals, the first of which came from an audacious effort from 25 yards out or so.
[h/t Addicted to Spurs] Kane was far from done entertaining after the opening goal, as he would knock in a rebound in true poachers fashion and cap off the hattrick with a header for a 5-0 lead. Oh, but Mr. Harry Kane was far from done with entertaining us after those three goals. See, he decided to take his turn in net following Hugo Lloris’ 87th minute red card. For those of us in America, he did his best Robert Green impression — only it was more impressive because the tall striker got low, guessed the right side and still nearly made the save.
We haven’t even mentioned the keeper Kane replaced in the final minutes, because Lloris absolutely stood on his head on the other end in stopping 17 shots, nine of which were on target.
No doubt it was just one game amongst 23 games played in Europa League competition on Thursday, but it wasn’t the only entertaining game we’ve watched this season. Hell, it wasn’t even the only entertaining game on this Thursday alone.
Villarreal entertained with its 4-1 win over Zurich, while Fiorentina had a 1-0 win over PAOK that featured 32 shots and there were plenty of other games of note across the continent.
The problem for us is the amount of games played each week in the competition is overwhelmingly hard to cover from the United States. However, the sheer entertainment value in the games that we’ve been witness to gives us all the incentive in the world to tune in come the knockout stage of this competition.
We’ll be tuning in with anticipation the rest of the way in the Europa League, and as this Thursday showcased…you should be too.
We promise you won’t be disappointed, even if you may not know how to spell or pronounce the names of some of the clubs you’ll be tuning in to see.