Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes the improvement of Premier League clubs in the Champions League this season is long overdue after an “illogical” period of struggle.
Spain have been the dominant force in European football in recent years, with each of the last four Champions League finals including at least one LaLiga side. Real Madrid won three of those titles, with Barca triumphing in 2015.
On top of that, Sevilla had a stranglehold on the Europa League before Manchester United’s success last term, winning three in a row and beating Liverpool 3-1 in the 2015-16 final.
But this season, English sides are threatening to re-emerge as serious contenders, with United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Madrid’s recent conquerors Tottenham all well-placed to reach the knockout phase.
And when asked if he thinks English teams have made themselves a force again, Valverde was unequivocal in his response.
“Certainly I do, yes,” the Spanish coach told reporters on Friday. “The English teams haven’t been able to dominate that much recently.
“I was going to say in Europa League too, but United won last year.
“English clubs will always be there or thereabouts. They have lots of money, great players and history in football.
“I don’t think we need to interpret that as Spain’s team are weaker. Last year Spanish teams were stronger, this season they [English clubs] are.
“It’s probably been the most illogical thing that English clubs have struggled in recent years.”
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