Consolation-seeking Liverpool and Tottenham fans will have regarded their Europa League exits as a clearing of the path in their pursuit of more important glories, but such sentiments may be misguided.
The Reds suffered a shootout elimination against Besiktas, while Spurs were slain by Fiorentina at the last-32 stage, going down 3-1 on aggregate.
With both firmly in the mix for a top-four finish in the Premier League and on course for domestic cup success too, having fewer games to contest may help stave off fatigue, but it doesn’t promise success.
The Lilywhites are likely to experience this first-hand when they face Chelsea in the Capital One Cup final this weekend, or so the odds say anyway, with bwin going as short as 67/100 about a win for Jose Mourinho’s men.
Below are three examples supporting the notion that sacrificing involvement in the continent’s B-list competition in favour of success in others isn’t always a good idea:
AC Milan – 2008/09
With fiercest foes Inter 11 points adrift at the Serie A summit, the Rossoneri opted to bail out of the UEFA Cup in order to ramp up the pressure on the pacesetters.
However, in the game falling directly after their away goals loss to Werder Bremen, Milan were felled 2-1 by Sampdoria, enabling the Nerazzurri to stretch their lead at the top and effectively killing AC’s frail hopes of overturning the deficit.
They finished ten points back.
Villarreal – 2010/11
Much like our two English protagonists, El Submarino Amarillo were embroiled in an almighty skirmish for a top-four finish in the 2010/11 campaign.
Under-resourced compared to flusher foes, they could’ve relinquished the Europa League to focus on winning a more lucrative prize, but they went all the way to the semi-final.
Their La Liga form actually suffered after succumbing 7-4 to eventual winners Porto – they failed to win any of the following four domestic games – but points garnered when playing twice a week helped them over the line.
Benfica and Sevilla – 2013/14
Last season’s finalists savoured excellent seasons that weren’t hindered by their full-blooded Europa League involvement.
The Eagles won their first Portuguese title in four seasons, losing just two league games in the process, while Sevilla – who were eighth in mid-February when the knockout stage of the competition started – finished fifth, winning ten of their final 14 Primera Liga matches.