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As we approach matchday 4 of this season’s Champions League, all English teams sit top of their group. So, can an English team win this season’s Champions League?
If Liverpool wins this year’s Champions League, I will be astonished.
Liverpool have been the most disappointing English team in the Champions League so far.
Having suffered two draws in their opening two games at home to Sevilla and away to Spartak Moscow, they followed up with an impressive 7-0 victory away to Slovenian champions Maribor.
Although it’s impressive to win any game 7-0 away from home, this was a poor Maribor side who were missing a couple of their key players, therefore we simply cannot read too much into that result.
A win against Maribor at Anfield is a routine victory for the Reds, we therefore look the remaining two games away to Sevilla and home to Spartak Moscow.
With the way Sevilla are playing in Spain, a possible victory away in Andalucia is on the cards.
Spartak Moscow, meanwhile, will prove to be tricky opposition. With the likes of Quincy Promes on the wing and Luiz Adriano up front, the final group stage match at Anfield will be a tasty one.
Yet, with Liverpool’s defensive problems and current injury situation, I believe that Liverpool will finish second in the group but will leave the competition in the last 16.
Spurs have a had a very good Champions League campaign so far.
Having recorded victories against Borussia Dortmund and APOEL Nicosia, they drew away from home to current Champions League holders Real Madrid.
If Spurs can get at least a point against Los Blancos on Wednesday night will put Tottenham in a good place to qualify out of the group.
Away to Dortmund, even though they are in dire form, will always be a tricky game. While a home tie against APOEL is a home banker.
The only problem is if Harry Kane gets injured. It’s touch and go whether Kane will feature against Madrid on Wednesday night. If he does feature, and aggravates the injury, it will be a nightmare for Pochettino.
I definitely think that Tottenham will qualify out the group, but like Liverpool, they will exit the competition at the last 16 stage.
What Pochettino has done to Tottenham has been incredible. He’s transformed them from top 4 challengers to title contenders, yet I don’t believe that their young squad is good enough to go far in the competition, especially with the quality of other European teams in this season’s competition.
Chelsea’s Champions League run has been solid so far.
They recorded a routine win against Qarabag on the opening matchday, they followed that up with an away victory against Atletico Madrid, a victory which many British pundits hailed as the most impressive performance by a British team in Champions League history.
The Blues showed a gritty performance at home to Roma on matchday three, and will have to put another performance of that quality away in the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday night.
Add to this Atletico’s Jekyll and Hyde season so far, a victory for Chelsea at Stamford Bridge seems likely, and I’m willing to put my life savings on them beating Qarabag away from home.
I fully expect them to finish top of the group, yet it doesn’t really matter whether a team finishes first or second in the group, with many of this year’s group being closely contested.
One of Bayern or PSG will finish second, one of Barcelona or Juventus will finish second, two of Besiktas, Monaco, RB Leipzig or Porto will go through, the knockout stages of the Champions League looks set to be mouth-watering.
Antonio Conte seems to be putting all of his eggs in the Champions League basket this season, as he’ll want to prove a point in Europe especially after his time at Juventus.
Chelsea are capable of winning this competition, but will need a lot of luck along the way. A quarter final exit seems likely for The Blues this season.
Jose Mourinho and his second seasons at his various clubs seem to go hand in hand. He’s always succeeded in Europe wherever he’s gone, and he’s already won the Europa League with Manchester United last season.
The only thing that will go against United is that their group is very easy compared to the other English clubs. They were very lucky to beat Benfica and were clinical against Basel and CSKA Moscow.
The remaining games in the group seem to be pretty straightforward and Manchester United can set their sights on the knockout stages.
Although Manchester United are fast becoming a very boring side to watch, Mourinho knows how to grind out results against his opposition, apart from Huddersfield.
If we compare the United squad to the rest of Europe’s elite clubs, I don’t think they can compete.
Romelu Lukaku has not really impressed since his arrival at Old Trafford, while the injury to Paul Pogba has really hindered United’s season.
If Mourinho moves Rashford up front, with Martial on the left and Mkhitaryan on the right, United will cause trouble for any team in Europe, but until that happens, like Chelsea, a quarter final exit seems likely for Manchester United.
Without a doubt, Manchester City are England’s best chance of winning the Champions League.
The attacking talent that City possess is by far one of the best in Europe, yet defence wise, City still haven’t really been questioned.
When they faced the attacking quality of Liverpool, they struggled massively to contain the likes of Mane, Firmino and Salah, and it took a Mane red card for City to ease themselves into the match.
City have impressed against Feyenoord away from home and did a solid job against Shakhtar at home, though they could have easily lost that game.
Against Napoli in matchday three, City dominated for 50 minutes, but after that Napoli got into the game and if it wasn’t for Ederson being on top form, City would have lost that match.
Their game on Wednesday against Napoli in the San Paulo will be a difficult test for City, If they get through it, it will put a marker down for the rest of Europe and it will make the City squad believe that they can go all the way.
If they show signs of weakness, then they simply won’t be able to compete against the rest of Europe. I believe City can reach the semi-final stage and will lose out to a PSG or a Barcelona.
The English clubs are doing very well so far in the Champions League this season, I believe that the English media is doing a very good job at raising expectations to an unreasonable level.
If you look at the rest of Europe, there are many clubs who are better than the English clubs. PSG, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus. Though some of them have had a shaky start, we all know when it comes down to the business end of the competition, they will pull something off.
Even the second tier of European clubs are better than some of the English clubs. The likes of Besiktas, Monaco, Napoli and Spartak Moscow are all capable of beating all the English clubs.
Although they are doing well, I simply don’t see an English side winning the Champions League this season.
Written by Sion Misra
Follow Sion on Twitter @sionmisra
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