Can anyone stop the English sides in this year’s Champions League?
The UEFA Champions League is back under way and the English sides are looking to dominate once again. There have been five English sides in the last four finals with English sides winning all English ties twice. Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 back in 2018/19 season and the reigning champions, Chelsea, defeated Manchester City 1-0 last season.
With two of the past three finals being all English affairs, the other top five European leagues are at present playing catch up with an ever improving Premier League, looking to dominate European football for the foreseeable future.
Four English sides are in the Champions League once again and are all familiar faces to the competition. Reigning champions Chelsea, last season’s runners up Manchester City, 2020/21 Europa League finalists Manchester United and Liverpool all represent England in the tournament.
Chelsea are in a strong place once again to compete for the trophy and are one of the favourites once again in betting sites available now at around 7/2 outright. Thomas Tuchel proved his elite level management when he took over from Frank Lampard last season and secured the Champions League, finished fourth in the Premier League and runners up in the FA Cup. This season has not seen the vast flurry of signings that have happened in the past, but a huge addition of Romelu Lukaku has made the west London side a real force to be reckoned with.
Manager Pep Guardiola is still looking for Champions League success with his Manchester City side and are currently the most fancied English side with odds of around 4/1. Like Chelsea, there has been just the one addition and a major singing also. Jack Grealish arrived from Aston Villa for a fee of around £100 million, a British transfer record. What has been noticeable is there lack of a key striker after their pursuit of Harry Kane ended without success this summer with the departure of Sergio Aguero to Barcelona after his contract expired this summer.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is probably the most under pressure manager from the four English sides going in to this tournament. After losing out to Villareal in the Europa League last season, a demanding supporter base is expecting to see more trophies coming back to Old Trafford who want the side to return to levels of the glory days under Sir Alex Ferguson. Again, money has been spent and three big singings have been made to strengthen the squad with Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and the return of superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite their long list of big names, they are still 8/1 to win the tournament and they will need to improve their consistency especially after losing to Young Boys in the opening match this season.
Liverpool are the longer shot according to the odds in comparison to the other English sides coming in at around 10/1. Jurgen Klopps side have started the season strongly and have their key central defender Virgil Van Dijk back in the starting 11. They have not brought in the big names like the other three sides, but they have strong identity and big game players like Mohammad Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Outside of the Englsih sides, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) are the main frontrunners for the competition. The French side already had Neymar and Kylian Mbappe in the forward line, brought in one of the greatest ever players in football, Lionel Messi. The argentine left Barcelona this summer for the French capital after his contract expired with the Spanish side. The Parisians are currently joint favourites with Manchester City for the tournament and will be an entertaining side to watch this season once again.
Other giants of the game are within reach of the English sides, though do seem a little way off. Bayern Munich have odds of around 11/2 and seem, along with PSG, the main side to challenge the Emglish sides. Real Madrid are considered a little way off at 18/1 and Atletico Madrid are 20/1. The Spanish sides seem to have lost ground on the favourites, and Barcelona appears to be in freefall at present. A once global powerhouse, the Catalan side are struggling financially and trying to come to terms with losing their greatest ever player, Messi.
Atletico will be a tough opponent as they always are under Diego Simeone, and can be seen as a dark horse going into the tournament. Real Madrid have started the season electrically in attack and with Carlo Ancelotti back in charge, he will be hoping to make up for some limited defensive stability with a offensive, Galactico style of play to go out and dominate sides. Both sides are considered long shots, but have the history and the talent to challenge once again.
Money plays a big part in all of this. The Premier League is the most lucrative in the world and the clubs have such wild investments and incomes that clubs are able to bring in the best players in the world. With the resources being limited around other leagues in Europe, other sides have been forced to rethink and plan their development differently. While the landscape of football changes across Europe and the spending becomes reigned in, the Premier League sides and PSG continue to power on.
Anything can happen in tournament football, especially when we move in to the knockout rounds. Eyes will be keenly drawn to the later stages to see if any of the other European sides can halt the English team’s recent dominance in the tournament this time out.