The return of English football to the European stage

Photo credit: Julian Mason from Flickr (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

The Champions League finals from 2012-2013 to 2016-2017 didn’t feature a single Premier League team, with Chelsea being the last to appear, when they defeated Bayern Munich in a showdown in the final of 2011-2012.

However, with Liverpool having a brilliant run in 2017-2018, four English teams reaching the quarter-final, as well as Madrid and Barcelona having a rough patch in comparison to their previous years, these coming few years could see the first Champions League winner from England in almost a decade.

Liverpool reaching the final

Perhaps one of the main indicators of the return of English football to the European stage is the display of Liverpool in their Champions League run last year. The Reds finished first in their group with a goal difference of +17, second to only PSG.

They then went on to knock out Portuguese champions Porto, Premier League champions Manchester City, and the Italian giants Roma, who had eliminated Barcelona.

Their run to the final was by no means an easy one, and many believe had it not been for the early controversial injury of Mohamed Salah and the mistakes made by goalkeeper Loris Karius, Liverpool may have instead become champions.

The last time an English team reached the final was six years prior to that.

Decline of Europe’s Elite

We can all agree that Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern Munich are great teams- however as of 2019, they’re not as dominating as they once were.

The departure of Cristiano Ronaldo along with manager Zinedine Zidane, after winning the competition three times in a row, a feat which had never been done before, has had a massive negative effect on the performance of the team this year. Madrid were surprisingly knocked out by Ajax in the Round of 16.

When was the last time Madrid left the competition in the Round of 16? It was in the 2009/10 campaign, and Ronaldo’s first season with ‘Los Blancos‘.

Bayern Munich, who normally secure their league titles early, are currently tied on points with their main rivals Borussia Dortmund.

But Bayern have also crashed out earlier than they normally do in the Champions League this year, at the hands of last year’s runners-up Liverpool.

Last but not least, Barcelona, who many think had the best team of all time in the years between 2008 to 2015, are a shadow team of who they once were. Losing key players such as Xavi and Andres Iniesta, who were the heart of the midfield during their glory years, meant that it was only natural to see a slight decline.

Four English teams in the quarter-finals 

Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur will all feature in this year’s Champions League quarter-finals. Their ties are as follows:

Liverpool vs Porto

Manchester United vs Barcelona

Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur

The last time there were four teams in the quarters was in 2008/09 season. In that tournament, Manchester United reached the final and were beaten by a seemingly unbeaten Barcelona side.

Nerve Sport‘s Zakaria Taibi will make predictions for these games soon, but for now, having four teams at these later stages in the competition should be something to celebrate.

English football is back on top in Europe…for now.