English Clubs Excel in Europe
English clubs have declared their intent in Europe with five teams qualifying for the knock-out stages of the Champions League for the first time. Out of the sixteen teams that will qualify for the next stage of Europe’s premier club competition, five are English clubs.
English clubs have made Champions League history by being the first country to have five teams progress from the group stages to reach the next stage of the competition. Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all qualified and will be in Monday morning’s draw.
England had five teams competing in this year’s competition due to Manchester United claiming the Europa League title last year which saw them qualify for the group stages. England however are not the first country to have five teams competing in the Champions League, Spain also had five teams in the 2015-2016 season but two of their teams (Valencia and Sevilla) failed to make it through the group stage.
Can an English Team Win It?
Chelsea’s win on penalties over Bayern Munich to lift the trophy in 2012 was the last time an English club reached the final. In the years that followed, Spanish clubs have enjoyed the most success and have won the competition in four of the last five tournaments, with Real Madrid winning it three times and Barcelona once. Bayern Munich are the only non-Spanish team to win the Champions League since Chelsea’s victory, beating fellow Germans Borussia Dortmund in 2013.
Some great performances from the English teams in this year’s competition have raised hope that one of the five can go on and win the biggest prize in club football. How feasible that is depends heavily on the draw that will take place at 11am on Monday December 11th.
As a team cannot play another from the same country or a team they faced in the group stage in the first knock-out round, it means for some teams the number of possible opponents is very limited.
Chelsea as runners-up in Group C only have three possible opponents and these are Paris St-Germain, Barcelona and Besiktas. If Chelsea have the luck of the draw and are matched up against Besiktas then you would expect them to progress, PSG or Barcelona would however be a different proposition.
The rest of the English teams have a bigger pot of potential opponents but with big boys Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich qualifying, there is a distinct possibility of some heavyweight clashes being drawn.
One manager who was quick to play down his team’s chances was Chelsea manager Antonio Conte. The 48-year-old Italian believes that the hectic football schedule in England will make it very difficult to win the competition and player fatigue will come into play in the latter stages. He said:
Don’t forget here this season is very tough. You have to play a lot of games, but when you arrive at the final stage to play for quarter-finals, semi-finals, the English teams have a lot of games in their legs. For this reason, I think it could be problematic to win the Champions League.– Antonio Conte, Chelsea manager
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp was in an upbeat mood after watching his team destroy Spartak Moscow 7-0 and jokingly made a prediction of who he expected to face in the next round, saying:
I don’t mind too much who we get – usually I always get Real Madrid so we will see. We have no preferred opponents, it will be really nice after a long time. I love this kind of news.– Jürgen Klopp, Liverpool manager
Who Can the English Teams Draw?
The matches in the Round of 16 will take place on 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st February with the second legs commencing on the 6th, 7th, 13th and 14th of March.
This is a list of the English teams and possible opponents they can be drawn against (with current UEFA rankings in brackets);
Chelsea: Barcelona (UEFA ranking 3), Paris Saint-Germain (UEFA ranking 6), or Besiktas (UEFA ranking 30).
Manchester United: Bayern Munich (UEFA ranking 4), Juventus (UEFA ranking 5), Real Madrid (UEFA ranking 1), Sevilla (UEFA ranking 7), Shakhtar Donetsk (UEFA ranking 17), or Porto (UEFA ranking 12).
Manchester City: Bayern Munich (UEFA ranking 4), Juventus (UEFA ranking 5), Basel (UEFA ranking 19), Real Madrid (UEFA ranking 1), Sevilla (UEFA ranking 7), or Porto (UEFA ranking 12).
Tottenham: Bayern Munich (UEFA ranking 4), Juventus (UEFA ranking 5), Basel (UEFA ranking 19), Sevilla (UEFA ranking 7), Shakhtar Donetsk (UEFA ranking 17) or Porto (UEFA ranking 12).
Liverpool: Bayern Munich (UEFA ranking 4), Juventus (UEFA ranking 5), Basel (UEFA ranking 19), Real Madrid (UEFA ranking 1), Shakhtar Donetsk (UEFA ranking 17) or Porto (UEFA ranking 12).