Football journalist Julien Laurens has hinted that Wolves will name a weakened team in the knockout stages of the Europa League in order to aid their chances of making the Champions League through their league position.
Wolves remain just six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea entering the month of February, during which they will resume their Europa League campaign, with a two-legged tie against Espanyol awaiting Nuno Espirito Santo’s side.
Speaking on ESPN FC about Wolves’ chances in the Europa League, Laurens suggested that the club will have to prioritise one of the two competitions they remain involved in, arguing that the potential of a top-four finish in the league usurps that of a bid for European glory.
Asked whether Wolves should be considered contenders for the Europa League, Laurens answered: “No, because they will field a weakened side in the Europa League to focus on the Premier League where they have a chance to finish in the top four, and that would be the right thing to do.
“They don’t have enough depth in the squad to put two very strong teams in both competitions – and surely the Premier League will take priority over the Europa League.”
Can Wolves win the Europa League?
Having started their season in the Europa League back in July, Wolves’ commitment to the competition is undoubted. With the team earning 13 points in the group stage, they have by no means appeared fazed by their European adventure – particularly by enjoying periods of decent form at times this season – which included a run of one defeat in 18 across all competitions.
That form has led to Wolves joining the hunt for a fourth-place berth that seems up for grabs in the Premier League, with Chelsea’s wild inconsistency (with four wins in 12) leaving them far from securing their place in next year’s Champions League. Both competitions have the same end goal in earning Champions League football, so it may be difficult to weigh up which is Wolves’ most realistic chance of success to that end with plenty of hurdles in each of them remaining.
Overcoming nine more Europa League games stand between Wolves and a European trophy, though despite there being 14 left in the Premier League, such is the inconsistency of their rivals for the final Champions League spot (made stark by the lead of Leicester City, never mind leaders Liverpool), they may not need to win each of them – so perhaps they would be better off putting their eggs in the league basket as Laurens suggests.
Wolves fans, which competition should you prioritise? Share your thoughts below!
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