Article – English clubs losing power in Europe – Champions League
Chelsea, of course, stunned the football world by upsetting the Champions League odds, lifting the trophy last season, but it was a mediocre campaign on the whole for English clubs in Europe. That has continued this term for last season’s top four.
For Manchester City and Chelsea, the group stage was a disaster. The holders were shell-shocked to the extent of sacking Roberto Di Matteo just six months on from their famous triumph in Munich, while City had no answer to the ‘Group of Death’.
Chelsea began the season strongly, even standing as Paddy Power Premier League favourites at one point, but the wheels quickly came off after a shock defeat by Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine on October 23. The Blues have not won a Premier League game since and suffered a critical loss to Juventus in Europe. Despite a resounding victory over Nordsjaelland in game six, Chelsea became the first holders to fall at the group stage.
City can point to the strength of Group D but that cannot excuse a tally of just three points as reigning English champions – the worst haul of any side from these shores in the Champions League. They lost all three games away from home and struggled to assert their authority at the Etihad Stadium. It was another campaign to forget for Roberto Mancini’s men.
Manchester United and Arsenal will fly the flag for England in the knockout stages, with Celtic offering a surprise British element from north of the border.
While the Hoops overachieved in qualifying, the same cannot be said of United and Arsenal. The two clubs were expected to qualify and qualify comfortably. They at least achieved one of those missions.
United arguably had the easiest group of them all but were unconvincing throughout, while the Gunners finished second in Group B after defeats by Schalke and Olympiakos.Both sides will need to improve markedly in the New Year if they are to avoid last season’s disappointment.
English sides have at least impressed in the much-derided Europa League this term – with Liverpool, Newcastle United and Tottenham Hotspur all qualifying for the knockout stages. They will be joined in the last 32 by humbled Champions League holders Chelsea.
Defences win silverware, as the Blues proved last season. Unfortunately for City and Chelsea, theirs have not been good enough this time around.