Can an English Team Finally Reclaim the Champions League?

KIEV, UKRAINE - MAY 26: Liverpool players pose for a team photo prior to the UEFA Champions League final football match between Real Madrid and Liverpool FC at the Olimpiyskiy stadium in Kiev, Ukraine, on May 26, 2018. (Photo by Vladimir Shtanko/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The last time an English club won the Champions League was back in the 2011-12 season. Chelsea faced a strong Bayern at the Allianz Arena in Munich. After a gruelling 120 minutes, the match ended 1-1. Chelsea won the penalty shoot-out 4-3 which saw the Blues lift the trophy for the first time.

Is it Time That the Champions League Came Home?

Bayern then went on to win the Champions League the following season. However, since then, the trophy has remained in Spain, more specifically Madrid. Real have won the tournament four out of five times, proving them to be the best side in Europe.

Is it time that an English club won the best silverware in club football? Can this be the year that a Premier League manager can conjure something up to stop the dominance of Real Madrid?

Mixed Emotions for English Clubs After the Group Draw

The Champions League draw for this season was held yesterday which has looked to set up a very exciting Champions League with lots of enticing football. English clubs face tough opponents that will be sure to test their potential of being Champions. Managers will be looking at their players, looking for their biggest assets and how they can utilise them to win big games.

Tottenham Given Group of Death

Tottenham’s hopes for a good cup run seems to be a tough task as they got the group of death for the second season running. They face Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV. Despite this, though, Harry Kane will be eager to prove himself on yet another big stage, with many other Spurs players hungry to win a long-awaited trophy.

Despite Spurs being the first English side to win a major European trophy back in 1963, they have failed to ever win a Champions League Trophy. Since 2000 Spurs have qualified three times for the competition. The 2010 season was the most successful run for Tottenham. They qualified to the knock-out round after winning all of their home games. They beat Italian side AC Milan 1-0 on aggregate to progress to the quarter-final where they faced Real Madrid, losing 5-0 on aggregate

Can Tottenham Lift the Champions League Curse?

Spurs’ bad luck continued six years later where they failed to make it out of the group. Scoring just six goals, they lost to Monaco twice and failed to beat Bayern Leverkusen. Last season, Spurs looked set to break their curse of the Champions League after performing well in another group of death. They were triumphant over Real Madrid, winning 3-1 and beat Dortmund twice, winning 3-1 and 2-1. This optimism was short-lived as they were beaten by Juventus in the Round of 16 to see them crash out once more.

Pochettino’s men will be looking to reach further than the quarter-finals for the first time. Their last campaign can be seen as very positive as they survived their group of death convincingly. Also, many of the Tottenham players shined at the World Cup, which can only be seen as hopeful as the Champions League is one of the biggest stages in club football. Harry Kane obtained Golden Boot and Hugo Loris was involved in the France Squad that won the tournament.

Despite this, it may be difficult for Tottenham to advance to the later stages due to squad depth. It was another window of no transfer activity for the club. This sets off many warning signs for the club due to congestion of fixtures, especially on the back of a World Cup where many players were heavily involved.

Pochettino may have to prioritise certain trophies in order to win the Champions League. I’m sure all Spurs fans would rather win this trophy than the FA Cup or League Cup but it is a big risk as Champions League is the most difficult of all to win. Could he survive another trophyless season?

Liverpool Will be Confident of Winning the Group

Klopp’s Liverpool side should be comfortable, despite a tricky draw. They face Red Star Belgrade who they should be able to beat with the likes of Mo Salah and Sadio Mane in the team. Napoli will be a challenge, but Klopp’s attacking philosophies should see his side victorious. PSG will be the toughest match of the group for the Reds. Klopp will have to continue the successful defensive coaching that he has shown at the start of this season to get points against PSG, who have a very strong attacking line up with the likes of Neymar.

Liverpool fans will have high expectations in the Champions League this season after being in touching distance in their last attempt. Klopp will be looking to increase the number of times the club has won the trophy to six. This would extend their lead against other clubs in being the most successful English team in the tournament.

2005 Was a Famous Year, But No Success Since Then

That famous season will forever be the talking point for all Liverpool fans. The astonishing comeback was the last time Liverpool saw their team lift the trophy. Since then, Liverpool have reached the final twice and managed to reach the semi-final once. The most recent was last year when they shocked the world with their attacking chemistry to beat big teams. They beat Manchester City 5-1, Roma 7-6 and Porto 5-0. They lost 3-1 to Real Madrid which ended the hopes and dreams of all Liverpool fans across the globe.

It was even more devastating for Klopp who was hoping to end his own curse. Since 2012 he has only won one final out of seven. Two of these finals have been in the Champions League, with two different clubs, and once in the Europa League. The graph below shows Klopp’s poor run in major Finals:

 

Year Tournament Result Score Opponent
2012 German Cup WON 5-2 Bayern Munich
2013 Champions League LOST 2-1 Bayern Munich
2014 German Cup LOST 2-0 Bayern Munich
2015 German Cup LOST 3-1 Wolfsburg
2016 Capital One Cup LOST (Pens) 1-1 Manchester City
2016 Europa League LOST 3-1 Sevilla
2018 Champions League LOST 3-1 Real Madrid

 

Despite this, though, many of Liverpool’s problems last season, especially in the final, have all seemingly been solved. The defence has improved dramatically and midfield has been strengthened substantially. Most importantly for the fans, is the decision to drop Loris Karius and bring in Allison from Roma. Liverpool are one of the favourites to win the Champions League out of the English clubs.

Manchester City Favourites to Win Group

Manchester City look strong favourites to qualify from Group F as they were handed an easier group than their English counterparts. They face Lyon, Shakhtar Donetsk and Hoffenheim. Manchester City have shown their attacking intent all season, scoring a total of nine goals in three games. The teams they have been drawn against will allow them to show their flair going forwards.

Supporters expect the Cityzens to push for the trophy and win it for the first time in their history. it is an expectation that fans will rightly have after such a powerful domestic season and a strong start to this season.

Premier League Winners Looking to Advance on Last Season’s Quarter-Final

Manchester City broke down against runners-up Liverpool in the quarter-final last season. Losing 5-1 on aggregate, Pep will be looking to improve where he went wrong last year. Despite Pep showing his managerial masterclass last season, breaking nearly every record in the Premier League, he hasn’t reached a final of the Champions League since 2011. He has reached the semi-final five times and will want to end his own curse in the tournament.

In contrast to this, Pep is very experienced within this tournament, something that will leave City fans hopeful. Pep has managed 104 games, the fifth most of any manager ever. He also has a 60% win rate in the competition, something City fans will be eager to witness in the coming season.

Pep has the best advantage over other English managers in the Champions League with the group. He has the chance to rest key players and try new systems allowing for small margins of error before facing European giants, such as Real Madrid and his former side Barcelona.

Manchester United’s Mixed Group Will Leave Fans Anxious

Manchester United fans will be hopeful of qualification but also anxious as they were given a moderate group. Mourinho will be fairly happy to face Young Boys, where he will be able to find his best team. He will expect the likes of Marcus Rashford, Paul Pogba, and Romelu Lukaku to prove themselves amongst the squad.

Valencia will be a more difficult task for sure and the defence will have to be strong in order to keep from conceding. Additionally, the biggest task United face will be Juventus, where newly signed Cristiano Ronaldo will be looking to be as deadly as he was at Real Madrid. The Red Devils will have to show unity and chemistry in order to break down Juventus, who are famous for their defensive structure and mindset.

Mourinho will be looking to prove his critics wrong after being slammed by the press in recent weeks on the back of two straight losses in the league. He will be expecting his team to perform better in the Champions League than they have in the Premier League.

Mourinho Hopes United Will Repeat the Glory of 2008

The last time that United were successful in the Champions League was in 2008, beating Chelsea on penalties after the favourite John Terry slip. However, United did win the Europa League two seasons back to prove they are a force to be reckoned with in Europe.

It was a season to forget in the Champions League last season as United crashed out in the Round of 16 after losing 2-1 to Sevilla. Mourinho will be looking forward to move on from cup upset last season and go all the way.

He will be hoping to extend his success in the Champions League and win the trophy with his third club. He won with Porto in 2004 and Inter Milan in 2010. If he wins it with United he will be the fourth manager to win the Champions League three times. Only Carlo Ancelotti, Bob Paisley and Zinedine Zidane have won it three times.

Liverpool and Manchester City Most Likely to Win the Trophy

The draw has already shed some light on the chances of English clubs qualifying to the knock-out round. But qualifying is only half the battle as the most difficult games come after. There are many other factors that come into play as we approach the latter end of the tournament. Each club has different aspects of their game which can be used in favour against European giants, but also have aspects which can hinder their chances of lifting the trophy.

From everything that has been discussed, it seems as if Manchester City and Liverpool are the favourites out of the English teams to lift the trophy. Tottenham would have to go above and beyond to get out of the group of death for the second consecutive season and win the cup. Manchester United have a good chance, but only if Mourinho can keep control of his dressing room and solve the apparent issues behind the scenes. They have the talent in the team but need the cohesion of manager and players.

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