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In one of Tuesday’s Champions league round of 16 games, an English side lost two nil to the Greek club Olympiacos. The Greek side was at home so you would expect them to be the better team, but the English team was woeful throughout the game and deserved to lose the game to the Greek champions. The English club moved the ball far too slowly, lacked imagination and creativity throughout the pitch and were caught wanting at the back far too much. Who is this English side that were ridiculously bad last night? Well, it was none other than current Premier League Champions and the one of the most popular clubs in the world: Manchester United, writes Gavin Nolan.

If you look at the history of Champions league winners, you could fool yourself into thinking that English clubs were still a force in Europe. True in the last 10 years they have had three winners and six finals that featured at least one English team, but there hasn’t been an English winner in the competition since Manchester United in 2008 (I’m not counting Chelsea in 2012 because they didn’t win that, they stole it).

Every year English teams are doing worse and worse. Liverpool, all those years ago, didn’t make it to the knockout stage in their group and haven’t featured in Europe’s top club competition since then.

Manchester City had two farcical campaigns in the Champions League before they finally made it to the knockout stage. They were the champions of England and they didn’t even win a game in their group last year.

Arsenal have been knocked out in the last three years in the first knockout round, while they also suffered heavy defeats in the first leg of each in the last two years.

While Chelsea stole won the competition in 2012, they haven’t been performing well in the competition for the last few years. Last year they didn’t even make it out of their group, the first defending champions to do so. They won the Europa League though so that’s some consolation!

Finally we come to Manchester United. They won the competition in 2008 and got mauled by Barcelona the next year in the final. They were knocked out by Bayern Munich the next year after they were winning the second leg three nil after 30 minutes. The following year they met Barcelona again in the final and they got hammered even worse than the first time. As if it couldn’t get any worse, they didn’t make it past the group stage the next year and had to play in the Europa league.

Even over the last three games English teams have played in the Champions League. They have all lost by more than one goal and none of them have scored.  The brand of the Premiership is what we look to and that is why we say that the English league is still the best in the world. But the results clearly show that English teams are not making the grade in the later stages of Europe’s top club competition. Sure they all make it through the group stage, but that is because of the seeding arrangements UEFA uses in order to keep the big teams separated from another. When they do reach the big hitters – the likes Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Juventus – they fall short.

The Premier League is so well advertised that we have all bought into this notion that it is the most exciting and talented club league in the world. It may be a case of style over the substance, just because it looks the best doesn’t mean it is the best. It might be the most exciting and competitive, the argument of a lot of people is that in the Premier League all teams are capable of beating each other and it is not as on sided as the Spanish or German league. Is this because all teams are of high quality or because they are all as bad as each other?

Pundit Arena, Gavin Nolan.

Featured Image By Jon Candy from Cardiff, Wales (DSC05469 Uploaded by Dudek1337) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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