English Premier League teams not in decline in Europe yet
For the first time in 17 years there will be no English Premier League side involved in the Champions League quarter-finals following Arsenal's exit from the tournament on Wednesday. Does this imply that there has been a decline in domination of English clubs on Europe's biggest stage?
This season and last, only one EPL team reached the quarters, with Chelsea miraculously going on to win the tournament last May. If we see the larger size of the picture then five of the last ten finalists have been from England, two from Spain, two from Germany and one from Italy. Above that, three of the last eight winners have been from England - Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea.
In comparison to others, three have been from Spain (all Barcelona) and two have been from Italy (AC Milan and Inter Milan). So if we go by these stats then for sure this can be seen as a minor blip.
Rather than reach the conclusion of saying that the EPL is in decline, it's better to look at the circumstances. The recent example and still fresh in memories of people around the world is Manchester United's exit from the competition. The Red Devils played two very tight matches against last year's La Liga winners and if Nani hadn't been wrongly sent off in the second leg, United would surely have reached the quarter-finals.
This was followed by Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger expressing concerns about the health of the EPL following the Gunners' 2-0 victory over Bayern Munich. "It is a long time since that happened (no PL club in quarter-finals) that means the rest of Europe has caught up on us," said Wenger. "We have to take that into consideration when we think about the future of the Premier League. It is a massive disappointment for English football, for a number of years we are not used to that. "It is a massive wake-up call for us because we had Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and us all out before the quarter-finals."
It may be a wake-up call in some aspects but there is still time before the alarm bells need ringing. Going by the individual strength of English teams they are far superior to Spanish and Italian teams. The likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea possess enough players to conquer Europe. Of course, other teams in Europe are expected to strengthen further in the summer, but it is highly unlikely that we will see no EPL teams in the quarters next season.
City and Chelsea can be expected to spend fortunes in the summer and going by Alex Ferguson's love for the Champions League, surely United will come out blazing. Expect a backlash from English teams next season.
More about Abhishek NandwaniNot a sports enthusiast by choice, Abhishek has been brought up with the passion as playing turned into scribbling.
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