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The Stats That Show Just How Much English Teams Have Turned The Tide In The Champions League

The Stats That Show Just How Much English Teams Have Turned The Tide In The Champions League

After 4 rounds of matches in the 2017/18 Champions League, the abnormality of 5 English clubs partaking in Europe's elite competition is paying dividends.

Between Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester United and Manchester City, 20 games have yielded a combined goals total of 56 goals; conceding only 17 along the way.

Having amassed 49 points between them, both Spurs and City are now through; United are all but there, while Liverpool and Chelsea remain on course to reach the last 16 also.

While the likes of Maribor, Quarabag and Basel present a set of opponents no Premier League club should have any great trouble with, Atletico Madrid, Napoli, Benfica, Dortmund and Real Madrid also stand amongst the English scalps.

Given that Leicester City represented English football's measure of success in last year's Champions League, their quarter-final finish would arguably be deemed the least any of this year's five could hope to achieve.

With no English club reaching the Champions League final since Chelsea's remarkable win in 2012, how has this transformation in fortunes taken place? And will it realistically continue?

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A few prevailing theories may be offered.

Is it the managers perhaps? Between Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp, this trio have led four different teams to 5 Champions League finals. Possessing a wealth of experience hard found anywhere else in European football, that they are now settled in their respective roles after somewhat turbulent beginnings, success is, perhaps, to be expected.

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For Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, improvement has been more incremental still. Yet, after appearing vulnerable in last year's competition, the 7 points taken from 3 games against Real Madrid and Dortmund in this campaign indicates genuine progression - in all reality, they should have claimed victory on match-day 3 in Madrid also.

 

Regarding Chelsea and Conte, we perhaps have the one outlier to this theory. Operating a veritable merry-go-round of managers, Conte is perhaps the most likely of the 5 to find himself out of a job before the season is out.

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Beyond the managers in situ, the resources they have to work with are an unquestionable factor in the progression of these teams.

For the two Manchester clubs particularly, hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent assembling squads that satisfy the peculiar demands of Guardiola and Mourinho, whilst also being up to the rigours of an extended, 50+ games season.

Whilst Liverpool, Spurs and Chelsea have been relatively more frugal in the last year, the fact remains that all five clubs are amongst Europe's top 11 spenders in terms of wages.

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Although money has not always been a guaranteed route to success in this competition, the last time a team from outside this bracket won the Champions League, it was Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan in 2010 - a team that nonetheless sits comfortably within the top 25.

Is there a chance however that the apparent progression is something of a misnomer, and any perceived advance will be 'found out' in the latter stages of the competition?

With Arsenal's absence from this year's tournament, such an eventuality is not necessarily going to occur.

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In Manchester United and Liverpool, their past status in this tournament may not automatically put them amongst the favourites to lift the trophy in May, but, they are rarely embarrassed.

Guardiola's City will have learned harsh lessons from last year's defeat to Monaco, and, with such a spread of talent delivering regularly in all competitions thus far, they are probably the English side most likely to challenge.

In Spurs and a Chelsea side now lacking the spine that once counted for so much in crunch fixtures, the jury will remain out.

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One fascinating element of this narrative will depend upon City's performances in the Premier League however. With a league push already looking beyond Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs, United's staying power will be tested to it's limits.

If the ultimate domestic prize is soon deemed out of reach, a Champions League where Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have all been found wanting at one stage or another could become a tangible reality for a previously written-off English hopeful.

See Also: Christian Eriksen Goal And Performance A Timely Reminder For Martin O'Neill

 

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