Following on from our article about the recovery times in the UEFA Champions League, we have performed the same analysis on the UEFA Europa League to see if certain teams or nations benefit from greater recovery times between their domestic and Europa League fixtures.
Over the last three seasons, Spanish teams have made up 25% of the Europa league quarter finalists, with Sevilla having won the competition three seasons running. Is there any correlation with this dominance and their recovery times to European games?
We have analysed the domestic league fixtures from six of the top leagues in Europe as well as all UEFA Europa League matches for the last three seasons (2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16). We have calculated the number of hours between the Kick-Offs of all European games and the immediately preceding & ensuing domestic league games:
The German Bundesliga teams do have by far the longest recovery times to their Europa league matches, so perhaps the British clubs in the Europa league will also start to see their recovery times increase if Friday night fixtures become more frequent over the next few seasons. Having said that, the German teams have still not faired particularly well in the Europa league, with only two teams reaching the quarter finals in the last three seasons (Dortmund in 2015-16 and Wolfsburg in 2014-15).
Conversely, the Spanish Primera League teams have one of the shortest recovery times to UEL matches, but they have still been dominating the competition over the last three seasons.
How about specific teams in a league? Are there some teams who get more recovery time than others? Let’s take a look at the recovery times for teams in the Spanish Primera League:
There is really very little variation between the teams – which is the same story in all the leagues, including the English Premier League:
What about the recovery times to the subsequent domestic matches? Do some teams get a longer rest after their Europa League games?
As you might expect, this is pretty much a reverse of the recovery times to the UEL games - with the teams having the shortest recovery times to Europa League games (Italy, Spain and France) having the longest recovery times to their domestic fixtures.
There is a little more variation for specific teams however:
In the Premier League, Chelsea and Manchester United have benefitted from longer recovery times after Europa League games. Conversely, in the Bundesliga Freiburg and Frankfurt have suffered, with shorter recovery times after their Europa League games:
Having taken a look at how the recovery times vary across leagues and teams, let us now look at how the points scored in domestic games varies before and after UEL matches.
The following graph shows the average points won across all teams competing in the UEL for each league versus the points won in their matches directly after a UEL game:
French teams have a significant drop in the points they win directly after Europa League matches, whereas English teams actually earn more points, on average, after UEL games.
Looking at the domestic points won directly before UEL matches, we can see that the Spanish and Italian teams do not perform well. Could this be because they take the Europa League more seriously than the other nations? Between them, they have accounted for 38% of the teams reaching the quarter finals (Germany, France, Netherlands and England have accounted for 21% of the teams reaching the quarter finals).
Finally, we have broken down the difference in points won before and after UEL matches by team:
Again, it is interesting to look at the Spanish teams that have performed well in the Europa League over the last three seasons. Sevilla, Athletic Club and Valencia have all had a drop in points in their domestic matches prior to Europa League games – again suggesting they may be taking the Europa League more seriously than some of the clubs from other nations.
Data in this article includes all domestic league matches and UEFA Europa League matches for teams from the English Premier League, French Ligue 1, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, Spanish Primera league and the Dutch Eredivisie for the 2013/14, 2014/15 and 2015/16 seasons. Domestic cup games were not included. Hours between matches are the number of hours between kick off times. Domestic matches more than 7 days before or after a UEL match are not considered to be immediately before or after a UEL match.