How Far Will English Sides go in the CL This year?By: Rob | September 15th, 2010
The Champions League is a notoriously hard beast to predict. Last season, it seemed certain to be a Real Madrid/Barcelona final, but neither even made the last two. English clubs had an off year too last year, compared with the domination of previous seasons. But will they bounce back this season?
Last night the first two English clubs kicked off – Spurs against Bremen and Man United against Rangers. Both drew. Man United in a 0-0 draw that the Scottish side played for, in a match that would be forgotten really quickly, except for Antoinio Valencia’s horror ankle break. The winger went down after a relatively innocuous tackle, but was stretchered off and given oxygen as he left the pitch. His season is likely over. We wish him all the best in his recovery.
Spurs meanwhile, led 2-0, but couldn’t kill off the game, and Bremen came back late on to earn a 2-2 draw. Still, an away draw against Bremen is not a bad buiding block for the rest of the group, although Harry Redknapp will be frustrated his side didn’t get three points in a difficult group – Inter and Twente await, though they drew yesterday as well.
Chelsea today return to the scene of where the Abramovich era began – MSK Zilina away, opened the 2003 season for the side, on that occasion they won 2-0. John Terry returns, though the other survivor of that side, Frank Lampard is likely to not yet be ready. Chelsea have been searching for that elusive Champions League win since then, and we must be beginning to approach the last chance for some of the ageing side.
Arsenal, another team who have made the final but not won the trophy (In fact, no London club has lifted the European Cup, curiously), take on Portuguese side Braga today, in a group that they should advance from without too many worries. The final this year is of course at Wembley, where Arsenal (albeit in a previous incarnation of the stadium) played some Champions League games back in the 1990s.
Its pretty impossible to judge how far they’ll go, but with a Wembley final they all have a big incentive – the London clubs especially, though Man United’s first European Cup win came at the old Wembley Stadium, would should spur them on somewhat.
I think the seasons of England’s dominance in the Champions League is likely over, but the sides are well equipped to go a long way, and we could have an English winner again, on English soil. Which would be nice.