All 4 English Teams Qualify For The Champions League Knockouts

December 13, 2013 in Competitions, Europe by Louis Baxter

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Last year was a bad year for the English Clubs in the Champions League, make no mistake. Manchester City and tournament holders Chelsea were both eliminated in the group stage, City set an all-time record for the lowest point total by an English team in the process, and Chelsea offered one of the most feeble defences of a Champions League title in history, confirming most people’s theories that they won it the previous year through luck rather than design. They recovered well to win the Europa League under Rafa Benitez, but that tournament has a low standing amongst the elite, so didn’t really undo their poor show in the top competition. Arsenal and United were both knocked out in the round of 16, meaning there were no Premier League teams in the Quarter finals.

ChampionsLeagueTrophy

This caused a fair few journalists to lose their minds. Statements like ‘English football was dead’, ‘the Premier League had had its day’, and ‘the King is dead, long live the king’. At the risk of being the twat who says I told you so, at the time I felt that this was a bit of a ludicrous exaggeration. Three separate English teams have won the Champions League in the past decade. An English team has appeared in the final 7 out of those ten years, and while you can grant that none of them have dominated it in the way Barcelona did for a while, three separate winners implies strength in depth that has been lacking in the other leagues. In that time, only one Spanish team from the much vaunted La Liga has won it and only one team from the Bundesliga too. England had a bad year last year, but all four English teams qualified this year; Manchester United and Chelsea as group winners, Manchester City setting a competition record for the highest points total for a 2nd place finish and Arsenal making it out of the group of death relatively comfortably.

The strength of these group stage performances for all four teams outstrips any from any other country. Four Bundesliga teams also qualified, but in much less impressive circumstances, and the only emphatic one amongst them was Bayern Munich. Dortmund looked vulnerable, and were quite lucky to top their group in the end, losing two games in the process. Leverkusen gave two dreadful performances and were outclassed by a Manchester United side struggling in the premier League, whilst Schalke qualified with fewer points than any of the English teams. The three dominant Spanish teams came and conquered, but Real Sociedad looked woefully out of their depth, finishing the group stages with a rather pathetic single point. Serie A had an absolute mare with its two best sides getting knocked out, leaving AC Milan, a team struggling domestically as their only hope. And to be honest, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

Could AC Milan be out of their depth?

Could AC Milan be out of their depth?

The Premier League doesn’t have the current elite sides. No-one is claiming that. The best team in the competition is Bayern Munich and the next 3 are probably Spanish, but the English clubs showed they could compete, even with the beloved and adored Bundesliga. After all, Arsenal beat Dortmund in Dortmund, City beat Munich in Munich, United beat Leverkusen in Leverkusen and Chelsea beat Schalke in Schalke. Don’t count us out just yet.

 

 

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