By Kurt Ganapathy
Featured photo: EUFA.com/©AFP/Getty Images
As it stands, Chelsea is the last English club to have won the Champions League. Their dramatic penalty shootout win in 2012 marked the end of a purple patch for England at the continental level – Premier League clubs reached seven finals in eight seasons between 2005 and 2012, winning three.
While Chelsea are reigning English champions, consistency remains an issue for Antonio Conte’s men. They should get out of a challenging group which features AS Roma, Atletico Madrid and Qarabag FK, but progressing beyond the quarter-finals would be an overachievement.
England’s most successful club in Europe returns to the Champions League with the last of their five victories – that magical night in Istanbul – drifting further into history every day.
Defensive woes have already begun to derail what seemed like a promising season and the Reds have to work on their ability to close out victories if they hope to achieve anything this term. They’ll probably lumber out of a group that includes Maribor, Sevilla and Spartak Moscow but any further progress seems unlikely at this point in time.
Manchester City has been knocking on the door of European greatness for most of this decade, and it seems as if it’s only a matter of time before they win their first Champions League title.
They almost have the team to do it, assuming their defence doesn’t continue to undermine the efforts of their formidable attack. It could be argued that attack is the best form of defence, especially with Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus on the prowl up front, but six goals weren’t enough to see them through against Monaco last season.
City reached the semi-finals in 2015-16, and as they finally find their feet with Pep Guardiola at the helm, they’d be disappointed if they didn’t at least reach the same stage this time around. Feyenoord, Napoli and Shakhtar Donetsk are tricky group stage opponents, but City won’t have much difficulty accounting for them.
Manchester United are a side rejuvenated under Jose Mourinho, and with Romelu Lukaku leading the lines, the sky is the limit.
United have matched City punch for punch thus far this season, but in the long run, the Red Devils have the advantage of pedigree and experience – especially since they’re coming off a successful Europa League campaign.
If they can keep up their barnstorming form, they have a genuine chance of making it all the way to Kiev. Basel, Benfica and CSKA Moscow are the first teams standing in their way.
The nearly men of contemporary English football, Tottenham is demonstrably the country’s finest club as far as results over the last two seasons go. They’re still getting used to life at the top and are very much England’s wildcard in Europe.
It would seem like a big ask for Spurs to escape a group headlined by Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund (APOEL from Cyprus are the other club in the mix), but so far so good.
Realistically, they have the look of a round of 16 or quarter-final team, but if they can turn on the style against double defending champions Real, that might not be the end of their journey.
Catch all the action of the UEFA Champions League on Eurosport. For more information about EUFA, visit the official website here.