14 March 2019
Half of the Champions League’s final eight teams will be from England.
Liverpool joined Manchester United, Tottenham and Manchester City on Wednesday evening with a relatively comfortable 3-1 win away at German champions Bayern Munich.
That the victory was achieved with such aplomb underlines the continued excellence Jurgen Klopp is overseeing at Anfield and his Premier League hopefuls join the current champions City alongside Spurs and a rejuvenated United in Friday’s draw.
It’s a clear indicator of the sheer strength of the Premier League – or rather, the almighty power of its top six clubs – and it’s looking increasingly likely that England will once again have a representative in the final after Liverpool’s appearance in Kiev on May 26 last year.
On the face of it, it’s easy to see why each club is having a fine campaign on the continent.
Spurs still have a gifted tactician overseeing their development in the form of Mauricio Pochettino and have a host of special players capable of making their mark on the biggest stage.
The likes of Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, Delle Alli, Son Heung-Min and Toby Alderweireld are good enough to grace most teams in world football. Their dismantling of Borussia Dortmund in the last 16 will have made many sit up and take note, if they weren’t already in Europe’s premier competition.
Liverpool, as mentioned, are merely continuing their upward trajectory. They were beaten finalists last season after Loris Karius’ meltdown in the biggest game of his career and that glaring weakness has been aggressively upgraded in the form of £65m Alisson Becker. They are a team few will want their name alongside on Friday.
United’s post-Jose Mourinho improvement has continued at pace and their comeback in Paris last week was a remarkable evening that Red Devils supporters won’t be forgetting in a hurry. Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer has been beaten just twice in his 18 games at the helm and still has United on course for an FA Cup and Champions League double.
Pep Guardiola’s Man City juggernaut are hitting top gear at just the right time and still have an simply unprecedented Quadruple in sight, even if they are faced with the daunting prospect of 13 games in 44 days.
However, for all the undoubted class of the Premier League’s top sides, there is a case to be made that they are merely doing what is expected of them, given the financial muscle each of them are able to boast.
Make no mistake, the Premier League’s impact on this season’s Champions League has been keenly felt and none of Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus or Porto will want to be drawn against an English side, but given the resources available in England’s top flight, such dominance on the continent shouldn’t be viewed as an incredible achievement.
It’s seven years since an English side won the Champions League. Not since Roberto Di Matteo led Chelsea to their first and only European Cup in May 2012 has a team from England won club football’s grandest prize.
The most recent findings from Deloitte’s Football Money League shows as many as nine teams from England in the top 20, with Everton, West Ham United and Newcastle joining the aforementioned big six.
Of course, spending money wisely and on the correct targets is a completely different skill to merely being financially wealthy, as Everton and West Ham’s current malaise would suggest.
However, it certainly gives the participants a leg up when they are looking to dominate the game on the continental stage.