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Are the English clubs capable of winning the Champions League?

Last night both Chelsea and Manchester United claimed away victories in the Champions League.

Chelsea were in control for much of their clash with Nordsjaelland, but didn’t secure the 4-0 victory until the last 20 minutes.

United defeated Cluj 2-1 in Transylvania, but made hard work of the victory.

The strike partnership of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie showed a lot of promise though, as the pair was involved in both of United’s goals.

Qualification

Arsenal and Manchester City both play tonight. City host German champions Dortmund and Arsenal host Greek champions Olympiakos. I would expect Arsenal and Manchester United to qualify from their groups with ease.

Chelsea and City may find it harder to make it to the knockout stages of the competition. At least Chelsea now has their first victory on the board and City will be hoping to get their first victory this evening.

Difficult

City won’t find it easy against the German champions though. Dortmund are a well drilled-outfit that plays some of the most progressive football in Europe. I really wouldn’t be surprised if they left the Etihad Stadium with the points.

Jurgen Klopp’s team were awful in last year’s competition, but opened this season’s campaign with a defeat of Dutch champions Ajax. They certainly won’t be pushovers.

Easier

I have to say I think the Champions League gods have been kind to Arsene Wenger and his Arsenal team this season. The teams that they face in the group stage aren’t exactly stellar European names.

The Gunners opponents this evening Olympiakos have lots of European experience, but very little experience at actually winning games in European competition. They opened their European campaign this season with a defeat against German side Schalke.

Problems

Manchester United are not enjoying their best start to a season. The Red Devils look vulnerable at the back and there are again question marks over their midfield. United haven’t had the best of teams in recent years, but have still managed to claim trophies.

Last year Sir Alex Ferguson’s club finished without a trophy and they didn’t exactly strengthen in the areas expected last summer. United were expected to bring in a quality central midfielder, but Ferguson seems to have a blind spot for central midfielders.

United have had to rely on the likes of veteran stars Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs this season. Tom Cleverley needs to start proving his worth, while Anderson has never fulfilled his potential at Old Trafford.

Manchester City are not exactly in sparkling form either. However, the return of Sergio Aguero should help give the team more of a threat going forward. As I’ve stated before City boss Roberto Mancini needs to revert to the 4-2-3-1 formation which brought the club so much success last season.

Quality

As an Englishman it’s sad to say but Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have far more quality in their ranks than the English teams in the Champions League. Chelsea may have beaten Barca in the semi-finals last season, but they had a healthy dose of luck on their side.

Barcelona didn’t get out of first gear in their 2-0 victory over Benfica on Tuesday night. Even without starting the likes of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and David Villa they still secured a comfortable victory.

Real’s last Champions League encounter was a 3-2 beating of Manchester City. They may have left it late to defeat the Premier League side, but in truth Los Blancos could have had the game won far earlier.

I would say that Chelsea are a better all-round team this season and Arsenal are probably a more balance outfit than last season, even without Robin Van Persie. The two Manchester clubs just don’t seem to have got going yet.

Unlikely

It’s always nice to a Premier League side do well in the Champions League. Chelsea are very unlikely to enjoy the same amount of luck they had last season.

If any English club does win the Champions League this season then I suggest that they had a huge slice of luck along the way. The quality of the English sides is just not the same as their continent rivals and most fans know it.

Can an English club win the Champions League this season?

Wed 3 October, 2012
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