After what has been a dreary few years, English clubs have finally got their act together in the Champion’s League. Since Chelsea’s victory in 2011-2012, fans have become used to watching English clubs fall over their own feet in European Competition.
With Arsenal’s perennial under-performers out of the mix and an extra club thrown in thanks to Manchester United’s Europa League victory last year, English football has been offered an excellent chance to regain a little respect.
With the 4th round of group matches out of the way, the record of English clubs stands at; Played 20, Won 15, Drawn 4, Lost 1. Goals scored 56, Goals conceded 17. Chelsea, the only team to lose to date, are placed second in their group, behind Roma. The remaining 4 are all top of their groups. Even though Liverpool are in a weak position, struggling to dominate, the odds of all 5 reaching the knockout stages are still pretty good.
Champions League Prospects
Manchester City have started to settle into a more durable, fluid outfit. Their unbeaten start to the 2017-18 Premier League season has undoubtedly given them confidence and, on their day, they are capable of ripping teams to shreds. Their defence may still be a weak point but, so far, nobody has been able to demonstrate this. Usually that’s because opposing forwards are too busy helping out shell-shocked and over-run defences. Unless the traditional English winter carnage robs them of vital players, they look like being finalists in waiting.
Chelsea would have been many fans’ favourites to do well this year until the summer transfer window closed. Selling Matic and not properly replacing him looks to have been a mistake of title-losing proportions, and the replacement of Costa with a single top-line striker looked and still looks like a very bad move. Without N’Golo Kante through injury and the sold Matic, they appear to be all at sea defensively. That said, if Kante returns soon enough and they can knock off the playstation defending, they would still seem to be a good bet for the quarter finals.
Tottenham, unconvincing European lightweights in recent years, appear to be coming of age. You can’t help but wish Spurs could find their own N’Golo Kante, or buy the original, and also buy a striker capable of being an effective replacement for Harry Kane, but when the first team is fit and ready to play, they look like genuine title contenders. Having now worked out that they need to play a little differently at Wembley and gotten over the ‘Wembley Jinx’ they are capable of taking on and beating anybody, as Real Madrid can confirm. With a little luck in the draw, we could well see Spurs gracing the semi-finals.
Manchester United are not expected by many to reach the final but, if they can overcome their injury problems, the likes of Lukaku, Rashford, Pogba and Mkhitaryan look capable of dragging them to the quarter finals, driven and motivated by Mourinho’s nous. Nobody should ever bet against him or his team over-achieving. Whilst they aren’t good enough to win it this year, a quarter final place is a realistic possibility.
Liverpool looked like the weakest of all the English teams to enter the Champions League when the season kicked off and, despite their relatively soft group, they appear to be playing the part. Their attack is not consistent enough against stronger teams and their defence is at times capable of being turned by a Sunday League team. Liverpool are a team missing a few vital cogs, still a work in progress. They may have a few goal-fests in them, but fans are advised to stock up on hankies if they reach the knockout stages, which is still far from guaranteed.
The English are back!
The Champions League is a strange competition and one in which the best team doesn’t always win. Neither of the traditional Spanish favourites are playing particularly well and Bayern appear to be struggling this year. So who does that leave? Of the Italian teams, Roma did well against a poor Chelsea but can’t be taken seriously as possible finalists, Juventus are unconvincing so far and Napoli look to be on their way into the Europa League. Of the rest, only the French PSG have the look of Champions.
What odds can I get on an England v France final?