womenforfootball.com- Just to keep you dear readers informed, I have been pitching articles to “SWOL: Soccer Without Limit” website recently, and here is my most recent analysis and forecast on English teams at Champions League this season. Hope you enjoy it!
Champions League: Can English Teams Revive the Miseries of Last Season?
Even the most die-hard fans of English Premier League would agree on one thing: English teams disappointed all their fans at Champions League last season. Whether their fans were of native British origins, or whether they were their global fan base which tallies around millions of fans, every single one of them were staring at TV screens with sheer disbelief when one by one all 4 English teams got eliminated by Quarter Finals. After all, last season was the first time in 16 years that no English team made it to Quarter Final stage of the most elite European competition.The cream of the crop of course was the elimination of defending Champions, Chelsea, at Group Stage. A new record at Champions League history, that a former Champion of Champions League got eliminated in Group stage in following season. Then came Billionaire-funded Manchester City, that also got eliminated at Group stage. Then it was Arsenal and Manchester United’s turn to get knocked out in Round of 16; albeit at the hands of fierce competitors, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.Putting past behind though, 2013-2014 Champions League games kicked off with new hopes and new beginning for usual European elites. After all, 3 out of 4 English representatives have gone through managerial changes during Summer; All eying Champions League trophy. But the million dollar question is: Can they do it this time?
Chelsea club owner, bringing back home fans’ favourite, Jose Mourinho on board, certainly hopes for Champions League glory. It is interesting to point that during his 4 seasons stint at Chelsea in the past, the best Mourinho had done with Chelsea in Europe was leading them to Semifinal stage. This season, as evident in all of their games so far, Mourinho’s focus again seem to be the strengthened defense. Yet, they lack the depth needed to score goals to avoid losses, such as the most recent shocking loss to Basel at Champions League this week. If they do manage to overcome their weakness in goal scoring, with their strong defense, they may be hopeful of making it to Quarter Final or Semifinal stage.
Manchester United, still in hangover over legendary Ferguson’s retirement are relying their hopes on David Moyes. The former Everton manager, despite showcasing a motivated and sharp games by his squad so far, albeit with evident defensive flaws, lacks previous Champions League experience; Let alone copying with fierce competition the games require, to take them further than Round of 16 this time. This season, as his first season at Champions League, it may be too early to expect otherwise from the new manager.
Manchester City, have probably gone through the most drastic change during Summer. Not only they hired their experienced manager, Pellegrini in early days of Summer, but they also went through sweeping squad changes, bringing flare of Spanish players to combine with existing superstars of the team. Pellegrini himself has an impressive record himself at Champions league level. Last season, football fans would remember the fighting spirit of Pellegrini’s Malaga team which chocked Borussia Dortmund until dying minutes of the game at Quarter Final stage. It turned out, the mighty Spanish team, which no sport bookmaker would put their money on, only lost through last minute winner to the eventual Finalist of Champions League. This season so far in all games, Manchester City squad have shown depth, superiority and resiliency to overturn conceded goals. They would have no problem advancing to Round of 16 along with Bayern Munich from their Group, and unless they face Bayern Munich in later stages, they could be the most prepared English team to make it quite far this season.
Arsenal, as the only English team at Champions league with no managerial change, is displaying a more determined squad, with more depth at the front, especially with the addition of world class winger, Mesut Ozil. However, as evident in all games so far, and the way they concede a goal, no matter who the opponent is, the defensive flaws, poor man marking and poor positioning of defenders ought to make English fans little convinced that Arsenal would make it further than Quarter Final this Season. True that they show competency to easily score goals, but due to critical problems above, they concede goals easily as well.
English fans may be hopeful to see an English team secure the Champions League glory this season, but the odds and reality on the pitch may prove otherwise again. Yet, one thing is certain, and that is passionate footballs fans of English teams can expect a much more competent performances and results this season, compared to last season. This time is different.