It has become a bit of a cliché: a football team play a Champions League game on Wednesday night or a Europa League clash on a Thursday night; they then play a domestic match the following weekend, and an adverse performance or result leads many to suggest that the European clash had a bearing.

Could it really be true that in the days of football teams having enormous squads, they still find it difficult to follow up a match in Europe with the next domestic game? Surely some canny rotation can work wonders, while the confidence gained from a positive Champions League match could surely aid their cause next time out?

Leicester City nosedive after being crowned champions

During the 2016/17 season, we studied several teams across Europe that played in the Champions League, and the first team to be examined were Leicester City. The Foxes had pulled several rabbits out of the hat to become champions of England in the 2015/16 campaign and were now ready to take the continent by storm.

On paper, the squad was stronger than ever before. Islam Slimani and Ahmed Musa had been added as attacking players, with Claudio Ranieri persuading Jamie Vardy and RiyadMahrez to remain at the King Power. Only N’GoloKanté slipped through their grasp as the Frenchman signed for Chelsea.

Ranieri was keen to make a decent fist of their unlikely place in the Champions League, and Leicester’s group draw couldn’t have been kinder, with Club Brugge, FC Porto and FC Copenhagen the other three teams in the section. A 3-0 win in Belgium followed by a 1-0 win over Porto set the Foxes on course for the last 16.

However, there was a stark contrast between what was being achieved in the Champions League and their domestic form, with Leicester noticeably under par away from home during the early part of the season. At the time of writing, Leicester have qualified for the last 16 of the European Cup as group winners, yet they have taken just a point on the road this season.

Similarly, part of the reason why Leicester were able to win the 2015/16 Premier League title was precisely because there was a power vacuum in English football. In addition to champions Chelsea imploding under JoséMourinho and Liverpool finding their feet under Jürgen Klopp, there were the stumbles occurring at Arsenal and Manchester City.

Both of the latter teams had the constant distraction of Champions League football since September, with Leicester simply able to concentrate on each Premier League game that came along, while there were no expectation levels once Leicester had secured enough points to avoid relegation.

Ranieri was hasty to ensure that his team were eliminated from both domestic cup competitions as a far greater prize began to emerge, and Leicester were able to win the Premier League by ten points. However, this year they are “in a relegation battle”, according to their Italian manager, who will hope to achieve a turnaround in domestic performances and results.

Will Chelsea and Liverpool prosper this season?

Manchester City, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur are the other English teams in the Champions League this season. Meanwhile, Manchester United are involved in the Europa League, and it appears as thoughJoséMourinho is willing to take this competition seriously given some of the sides he has put out.

The top English clubs who don’t feature in Europe this season are Chelsea and Liverpool. At the time of writing, they occupy the top two positions in the Premier League, with the former having won their last seven matches to make a swift ascent to the summit.

While it’s still early days in the Premier League title challenge, it surely isn’t a coincidence that Antonio Conte and Jürgen Klopp can sit down every week and make a week-long preparation plan for their forthcoming match. Indeed, neither manager is even willing to field the majority of first-teamers when it comes to domestic cup competitions.

In an age when football is so focused on each player having supreme fitness levels and the ability to outrun the opposition, it surely follows that these top teams who aren’t involved in European competition will have a distinct advantage during the weeks and months when Champions League and Europa League fixtures are prevalent.

Between mid-September and the beginning of December, there are six group fixtures that need to be played, and the rigours of fielding a strong team in these matches that are sandwiched by domestic encounters can take their toll.

After the group stage, English clubs are dealt a hectic fixture schedule that differs greatly to the extended winter break that is enjoyed by European counterparts in Germany, Spain, France and Italy. Indeed, the lack of a winter break in England is often cited as a reason why the England national team don’t fare well enough in summer international tournaments.

As we head towards late February, the knockout stages of the Champions League and Europa League take place, with teams involved once again having to play two games per week on a regular basis. Injuries and fatigue start to become prevalent as a long, hard season starts to reach its culmination.

Will Atlético Madrid forsake La Liga this season?

After 13 games played, Atlético have slipped nine points behind city rivals Real Madrid. While it’s not an insurmountable gap, and manager Diego Simeone will be at pains to claim that his side haven’t given up on things domestically, the Argentine must be acutely aware that forsaking La Liga could actually play into his team’s hands.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are arch-rivals who could be battling all the way to the line in Spain this term, with Atlético realistically unlikely to overhaul either side when you consider that they have been punching above their weight for such a long time.

However, Atlético have been the bridesmaid of Europe in the past few seasons, reaching the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016 before coming a cropper against Real on both occasions.

Many feel that the 15 points that have been dropped domestically by Los Colchoneros this season may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, with Atlético going through to the last 16 of the Champions League as likely group winners, and they will automatically avoid another Spanish side in the last 16.

Simeone has seen his team already beat Bayern Munich in the group stage of the Champions League this term, thus illustrating their mastery of the competition. While the Madrid side are far from a flash in the pan like Leicester City, the growing imbalance of money across Europe means that they might not have a better chance to achieve success in this competition before a stronger English challenge emerges.

RB Leipzig steal a march on Dortmund and Bayern

Who knows whether Red Bull Leipzig will “do a Leicester” and claim an unlikely Bundesliga title this season? At the time of writing, the German team have enjoyed a storming campaign thanks to an unbeaten start that has seen them win nine games and draw three thus far.

Seven straight wins have recently been enjoyed at exactly the same time that Chelsea have been enjoying the same thing in England. Coincidence? Or is it just that they have been growing stronger in a league without the distractions of the Champions League or even the Europa League.

A 3-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen was especially notable considering it took place just days before Leverkusen were involved in a crunch Champions League clash against CSKA. There was also a 3-1 victory against a Mainz side who had previously been pulverised 6-1 by Anderlecht in the Europa League.

Leipzig are now in the groove, just like Leicester were last season. They have a vibrant young team and some money behind them, while they also know that Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund’s participation in Europe is likely to continue for the remainder of the campaign.

At the time of writing, Bayern have dropped nine points, and there were two points dropped at home to Cologne immediately after the team had suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Atlético Madrid. Similarly, a 2-1 win away to PSV was followed by another 1-1 draw, this time at home to Hoffenheim.

It could be that Bayern are perhaps recovering from the departure of Pep Guardiola and acclimatising to the arrival of Carlo Ancelotti and his new methods. However, it remains a difficult challenge to balance domestic and European duties, even if you have a bulging squad of international players like the Bavarian side.

Borussia Dortmund have been devastating at times this season, though they suffered a 2-0 reverse at Bayer Leverkusen immediately after a 2-2 draw against Real Madrid, while that spectacular 8-4 victory against Legia Warsaw had the continent purring. That was before a 2-1 reverse took place at Eintracht Frankfurt, bringing Thomas Tuchel’s side back down to earth with a bump.

The reality is that an additional workload for any football team brings a variety of complications. While the clubs in the Champions League often have a massive squad with practically two players for every position, managers are nearly always more successful with a settled team when it comes to domestic and European engagements.

Therefore, the demands on top players to feature at their best at the weekend before dusting themselves down and featuring just a few days later can often take their toll. This is especially the case towards the end of a season where knockout football is being played and these intense clashes can require high levels of fitness and concentration.

The 888sport blog, based at 888 Towers in the heart of London, employs an army of betting and tipping experts for your daily punting pleasure, as well as an irreverent, and occasionally opinionated, look at the absolute madness that is the world of sport.