After three losses for the four English Champions League teams, there have been some doubts of the quality of the Premier League. Too right; Manchester United have only themselves to blame in their defeat to PSV Eindhoven whilst Manchester City were defeated by Juventus and Arsenal were truly awful away at Dinamo Zagreb. Cue social media exploding with cries of the death of English football. Apparently, all hope is lost, our boys can’t cut it, so let’s all pack up and go home.
But before we all go and get stuck into the Rugby World Cup as an escape route, is it fair to right off the Premier League’s chances in the Champions League?
Let’s look at just how shoddy the Premier League has been in the Champions League:
Since Liverpool’s miracle of Istanbul 10 years ago, England has produced 3 winners, 8 finalists and 14 semi finalists. This record is only bettered by Spain have had 5 winners, 7 finalists and 15 semi finalists. Compared to the other major nations, Italy have made it to 4 finals, winning 2 and Germany have had 4 finalists with just one triumph.
So the Premier League can clearly hold their own against their rivals and arguably should have more titles with the number of finalists they have had.
Despite the Premier League’s record in Europe, they may yet lose a Champions League place to Serie A by 2017-18. UEFA ranks each league based on their clubs’ performances over the previous five seasons- this would only count the Premier League’s one win (Chelsea in 2012) and one other final appearance (Man United in 2011) and exclude all the good work done between 2007-2010.
The recent form of some Premier League sides hasn’t been much to shout about and could lead to the Premier League dropping down to 3 places. Since first entering the CL in 2011, Manchester City have played 29 Champions League games and lost 13 of them, winning just 10. If there are any Arsenal fans are sniggering at the back, you guys have only made it past the quarterfinals only twice in 15 years and United weren’t even involved last year. Along with the performance of the Champions League teams, bizarrely the record of the Europa League teams also count. So by being knocked out of the Europa League so early, Southampton and West Ham could affect the number of Champions League places given to England. Again very silly.
For England to lose a place, this would require an upturn in fortunes for Italy, but still a serious wake up call to the Premier League- up your game or lose a Champions League place.
Even with one loss each, it’s still likely that United, City and Arsenal will qualify along with Chelsea and progress to the next round- not too many countries can say that– so all the Premier League obituaries could look very stupid if all four do well.
Whilst no English team can match the Big Three- Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and holders Barcelona- they do possess four quality teams capable of reaching the Quarterfinals and are one of the strongest nations in Europe. It’s easy to forget but all four clubs have something to prove this year. United and Arsenal need to remind everyone they are still European giants, whilst Chelsea and City will feel they have underachieved if their current squads don’t dominate Europe soon.
This is a HUGE season for the Premier League in Europe. Not just with a Champions League place on the line but to show everyone that the the marketing team at Sky Sports are right and that this really is the Best League in the World™.