It's been a while since Juventus played in Europe, but the defeat to Galatasaray and subsequent elimination from the Champions League are still a sore spot for this Juventino. Everything that needed to be said about how Juventus lost the qualification round during the first two group matches has been said. The one question that remains is whether Juve should treat the Europa League with the same seriousness as the Champions League or not. Is it worth tiring our best players for a second-rate competition? Bear in mind that this may mean dropping points in one of the most competitive Serie A seasons in recent memory.
My answer to this is a resounding YES! And here are five reasons why:
1) Money, money, money!
In terms of money, it is undeniable that this is a second-rate competition. By making it to the round of 32 in the Europa League, Juventus will receive a whooping €200,000, teams in the round of 16 receive €350,000, in the quarters €450,000, in the semis €1 million, and in the finals €5 million or €2.5 million for the winner and loser, respectively. Compare that to the Champions League which awards €3.5 million for the round of 16 alone. This does not take into account lost revenue from TV rights.
With that being said, match day revenue plays a crucial role. In the 2011-2012 season, Juventus stadium averaged over €1 million per match day revenue. The likes of Trabzonspor may not fill the stadium, but if Juve were to meet Napoli or Valencia in later rounds, I can imagine the stadium will be sold out.
It is not a lot of money, but this winning Juve side has been built on an "every penny counts" mentality. Don't believe me, just ask good ol' Beppe Marotta.
2) Our Standing in Europe
The second reason why we should care is because our club coefficient can be largely affected by what we accomplish in the Europa League. The lower our standing, the more likely we are to end up drawing teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, or Bayern Munich. UEFA uses the last five seasons to calculate the coefficient. You can find the full coefficients here. I have selected a few teams for example sake:
|Atlético Madrid (8)||24.585||9.642||34.171||13.542||22.742||104.685|
Every year, the oldest points disappear and are replaced by the newest points. If you look at Barcelona, last year they only made it to the semis of the Champions League obtaining 27.542 points. That is almost 3 points less than Chelsea who were eliminated from the Champions League in the first round but won the Europa League.
For Juventus to have an easier time in the Champions League they need to overtake 8th place. As you can see from those scores, that is unlikely to happen before the 2017-18 season (when the 2011-12 season will not be counted). However, if Juventus were to win the Europa League and score approximately 30 points, our total for next year would start to become more inline with the other top-seeded teams. I don't know about you but that is where we belong.
3) The psychological aspect
Winning begets winning. There are two ways of looking at the Europa League: by dedicating effort to it, our best players will get tired; or, by winning in Europe our best players will be more energized. If you have been a fan of Juve for the last few years, you will now that Juventus players and the coach subscribe to the latter philosophy. Otherwise, why would Conte keep playing his starting 11 week-in and week-out? Because the players tanks are fueled by winning.
Succeeding at challenges is what this club does, if you don't like it then you can move your cheers to any other team in the world. Playing in Europe and playing in Italy will undoubtedly be a challenge, but one that can only make us stronger for it. I am convinced that for the long term success of this team, it is better to walk away with the players' heads held high, than by vowing out because this competition was not good enough.
4) Because of History
Almost 30 years ago Juventus fans were probably asking a similar question about where to place the team's resources. In 1984, Juventus played and won the UEFA Cup Winners Cup. It wasn't the most prestigious tournament in Europe at the time (or ever), but it was an opportunity to win in Europe. Defeating Porto in the final was the beginning of an exciting time for the Old Lady outside of Italy
The morale boost and international experience gained by winning that championship were fundamental for Juve's win the year after in the European Champions Cup (the equivalent to the Champions League of that time). Almost a year after defeating Porto, Platini scored a historic goal against Liverpool in a day that will negatively mark Juventus history because of the Heysel tragedy.
Despite that dark chapter, there is a lesson to be learned from those two historical years for Juve.
5) Because winning is not important, it is the only thing that matters
The cup may not be important, but at Juve, vincere non é importante, é l'unica cosa que conta.
- Alessandro Del Piero to play for A-League All-Stars against Juventus in August friendly
- Juventus 3 - Chievo 1: Initial reaction and random observations
- Game Time Thread: Juventus vs. Chievo
- Juventus vs. Chievo Preview: Round 24 — Getting back on the horse...or Flying Donkey
- Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic out "several weeks" after suffering another injury