English football has seen a resurgence of late. Gareth Southgate’s side famously reached the semifinals in Russia to take their country at that stage after a gap of 28 years. England also won two world cups at the youth level in 2017. Six English teams have now progressed to the business end of European club competitions. The question is, can they go all the way?
Arsenal & Chelsea comfortably won their games late last night to make it into the quarter-finals stage of Europa league. During midweek Liverpool, Tottenham & the Manchester teams did the same in Champions league. As a result, six English teams will appear in the quarter-finals of major European competitions for the only second time ever, after 1970-71.
It reminds us of the supreme dominance of English clubs had imposed in Europe during the previous decade. Its been ten years since there were four English quarterfinalists in the champions league. Back then 3 out of the 4 teams had made it to the semis. The previous year saw an all English final where Manchester United defeated Chelsea on penalties in Moscow. Important to note that the champions league had an English finalist for 5 consecutive years.
But what followed has been an embarrassment of sorts for the most popular league in the world. The last English team to win the world’s most prestigious club competition was Chelsea in 2012. Since then the Spaniards have conquered Europe in both competitions. While Real Madrid has won four, Barcelona defeated Juventus in 2015 to win their sole champions league trophy during the period. And its the same story in the Europa league. Atletico Madrid has won twice while Sevilla won three consecutive trophies during 2013-16.
So what went wrong with the world’s richest league? The kind of money Premier League teams earn is the envy of the footballing world. With supreme managerial talent & the best players in the world, one would have expected them to do better. They might point out to reasons like the clubs being in transition, managerial changes, fixture congestion or simply bad luck. But the bottom line is, they faltered & were simply not good enough to go all the way.
It will be interesting to see what happens as we reach the business end of the season. One would certainly think these teams are capable enough to bring back the glory days. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City seem well equipped & are one of the favorites to win the Champions League. Liverpool reached the final last year and demolished German champions Bayern Munich in style. Manchester United made a stunning comeback against Paris Saint Germain. Both Arsenal & Chelsea have it in them to win the Europa league.
Will we see one or both European trophies return to England in the summer? Tell us what you think in the comments section.