VALENCIA, Spain: And so it ends. The lights were still lit, but it was late, it was quiet and everyone went home.
A few hours earlier, they waited in their thousands for fireworks and song, but hopes died and they left a long time ago.
Some even left early, knowing it was over; not just a match, but more than that. Something deeper.
Valencia defeated Arsenal at Mestalla two days after Barcelona fell to Anfield and for the first time in six years La Liga will not win a major European trophy.
Spain secures place for finals – Liverpool and Tottenham will meet on June 1 at the Wanda Metropolitan in Madrid ready to compete for top European clubs – but none of the finalists.
England offers all four: both Champions League finalists, such as Spain in 2016 and 2014, and both finalists of the Europa League, such as Spain in 2012.
It should not be like this, or maybe it is. Perhaps what happened earlier was unusual, not this. But that's different, that's for sure.
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Only twice in the past 14 years (2008 and 2013) the Spanish team did not win either the Champions League or the Europa League. Madrid (four) and Barcelona (one) won the last five League leagues; Sevilla (five), Atletico (three) and Valencia (one) won nine of the last 15 UEFA Cup / Europa League titles.
This year, everyone will watch the TV.
Valencia was the last one to fall last Thursday night, and fans at Mestalla could not resist, because of themselves and everyone else. Get to the Spanish place to meet the English.
"Football does not know Brexit," he announced the title in front of the sports daily AS.
What is interesting is that this happened in the season in which the Spanish Spaniard's economic health has improved, debts have diminished and consumption has increased. The television agreement, now centralized and evenly distributed, is larger than ever before.
And while Madrid and Barcelona are always a separate case, this economic gap has been a reality for some time: if they are now looking for Spain – and they are – why English teams dominate, it was not long ago that they were asked why they did not dominate.
This year can be remarkable, certainly among these economically strong teams: the collapse of Madrid was stunning and Atletico had a 2-0 advantage overturned by Juventus. Then there was Barcelona. Marcelino spoke of the obstacles that stood on his team's path, including exhaustion and injuries. Sevilla's exit remains confusing, barely acceptable, but in the end, Sevilla could not compete for the trophy they made.
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However, their former manager will. And maybe there's something in it. Not only in Unai Emery, but also in what he represents, the process in which he is a part.
Emery, the winner of the Europa League three times in a row, 2014, 2015 and 2016, will again be in the final this year, leading Arsenal. That's his record for the fourth time. Since 2012, he has not lost the Europa League: 18 knockout rounds, three qualifying rounds and three finals.
He likes to tell the story of how the president of Seville Jose Maria del Nido impressed the importance of raising a big trophy.
"Do you know how it is to live the finals?" Del Nido asked.
"No," Emery said, but soon she will.
It was partly about the priorities. This probably influences Jeremy's interpretations and this mentality is brought to Arsenal, along with his expertise and application.
In October, at a conference held in the base of the Spanish Football Federation in Las Rozas, north of Madrid, Emery was asked why English clubs are not doing so well in Europe as their financial muscle suggests. (Pay attention to how recently this has been and how quickly issues have changed).
One of the reasons why such an important league had relatively poor results, he said, was the very fact that it was such an important league. There was something in culture, he concluded, but this culture can be changed. Actually, it's already changing.
"There the Premier League is the first, Europe is the second, and in the Champions League they have reached Madrid and Barcelona – and recently, Atletico." Meanwhile, they did not find a place for the European League, but it did not look so important. to understand it so seriously, they did not fight for it, "Emery said.
"But the change in the UEFA rule four years ago, when it won the Europa League, got a direct qualification for the Champions League, it was important: It strengthened the League of Europe.
"And so, in the last three years, you've seen Liverpool in the final against Seville, when they did not qualify for the Champions League through the Premier League, and the following year, Manchester United beat Ajax." Last year Arsenal tried and came to Athletics, which is a huge competitive animal, so now the League of Europe begins to be interesting – for the teams that need it.
"Burnley (who he did not need) played the qualifications and was thrown out, and the same happened to West Ham."
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The change has come, but Emery also insists that the Europa League is important because it is a trophy, not just a ticket to the Champions League.
And he said: "I told them it's important from the first day, because of the Champions League, but also as a title."
It was in October, remember. Seven months later, Arsenal will play in the final.
So will one of the people sitting next to Emery that day; Mauricio Pochettino, who started his career in Espanyol, but has since led Tottenham to the Champions League final, also pointed to culture.
"English players first look at the league, they leave the Champions League on one side a little, which means that the Premier League is completely different (according to Spain) in terms of the request, the list of matches," he said.
"In the beginning, I was struggling to figure that out. It's crazy in January, the number of games you play. In England (due to the importance of the league) it's hard to rotate on Saturday for (game) on Tuesday.
"We've discovered the effect now: there are so many games, so little vacation, the way it means you do not get players in the best condition (by March, April). We're trying to control this, trying to get on key moments with more energy."
Whether you agree or not, it was the perception of the inside. From the inside. A new perspective is provided, a new look. Lessons are learned; they are also divided.
And while there are many other elements, while destiny or fate plays a role – and miracles – while the margins were so fine that they were almost invisible, now both men came to the final. With multinational English teams, this time.
Everything indicates that the money was not enough; Maybe the money with the expertise was. Expertise, happiness, collapse of competitors, physicality. Changing ideas and approaches; maybe a shift in priorities.
The contribution of foreign players changed the Premier League; was that what was lacking, to change the experience of England in the Europa League and perhaps the Champions League, was the contribution of foreign coaches?
Is this the reason why the final economic advantage is effectively applied? See also these four, and you have Pep Guardiola (Man City), Nuno (Wolves) and Javi Gracia (Watford).
For some experts in Spain, this is an attractive idea, just as it's worrying; the talent goes not only on the ground, but also on the bench.
In an editorial in the sports daily newspaper AS last Friday, it is claimed: "After our years of domination, the Premier League claims to have its place with this huge four, whose causes are easy to identify One: Money Their TV rights are worth much more than the others: Provide They are slowly eradicating the old coach, falsified in an older football, catechism keepers who are now out of date, and there are few left and they are doing badly.
"All four finalists have managers outside of England, just like Man City, and they are close to winning the league, England has finally reached date."
La Liga has long been aware of threats from the Premier League. If it is really the case that they are now in progress, that they are better in one thing they have not done much earlier, that threat is growing. It is legitimate to wonder if Spain could stay.
But they are not in panic, at least not publicly. Marcelina asked if they should be scared.
"No," he said, "because last year's Spanish teams were: two years ago the Champions League final were two Spanish teams."
"This year, the circumstances were for the first time brought by four finalists from the same country," Marcelino continued. "We have three big teams in Spain, we are at the level below that, compared to Premier League, but we have to compete. I think we are closer to Arsenal than we are suggesting the result.
"Sometimes you can think that economic power is crucial in football. I think it's important – it gives you more resources – but that's not definite. Until this season, the Spanish teams were in the finals, when the English League was the strongest economic in six or seven years . "
"It's cyclical," Emery said, under the main stand at Mestalla, where Arsenal had just given the opportunity to win the third European trophy in his history, and he had a chance to win the fourth. "English football is at a very good moment when it comes to teams, players, television (money). Spain had Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico … they dominated those finals, and now we are, and coaches with the past in Spain.
"We will try to enjoy, we fight for it. It's not easy to repeat the four English teams in the final."
The Arsenal bus waited outside, but nobody else was. Valencia was the last one to stand, but it was late, it was over and everyone went home.
This article first appeared on ESPN.com.