Premier League teams have taken something of a hammering this season when it comes to Europe but all is not lost.
The senior teams in England should look to their Under-18 counterparts when it comes to performing in Europe, as this season’s Next Gen Series shows.
Manchester United and Arsenal both crashed out at the last 16 stage of this year’s Champions League to leave no English representation in the quarter-finals for the first time since 1997.
Manchester United cried foul, or the referee did at least, when Nani was shown a red card for a high challenge on Real Madrid’s Alvaro Arbeloa.
Jose Mourinho’s side exploited the extra man ruthlessly and cancelled out Sergio Ramos’ own goal through a beautiful Luka Midric strike, before Cristiano Ronaldo slid in to claim the winner.
Arsenal could not come back from a 3-1 pasting at Emirates Stadium but they pushed it close in the Allianz Arena by defeating Bayern Munich 2-0.
The away goals did for the Gunners but the club as a whole still has hope when it comes to European competition.
Arsenal Ladies were impressive in their 3-1 Champions League quarter-final victory over Italian side Torres.
There is also real intrigue in the Next Gen Series and Arsenal’s young stars have a chance to book their place in the semi-final next Monday when they meet CSKA Moscow in the last quarter-final.
Arsenal set up the meeting with the Russian side by eliminating last year’s champions Inter Milan during a rain soaked clash in Italy.
Should they prevail, they will meet Chelsea in the semis and become the third Premier League side in the last four.
Aston Villa are in the other side of the draw and will vie with Portuguese side Sporting for a place in the final.
Sporting set up the clash with Villa by beating Tottenham Hotspur in their quarter-final thanks to an incredible 45-yard volleyed winner in extra-time.
Every quarter-final in this year’s competition had an English team and seven of the eight matches in the last 16 had a Premier League representative.
Although it is only in its second year, the Next Gen Series is growing in popularity and is making stars of the young players that are taking part.
Viktor Fischer scored a hat-trick last year as Ajax thrashed Liverpool on their way to the final and today he is regular in the first team art the Amsterdam Arena, scoring lots of goals.
So those people writing off the Premier League in Europe’s top competition may need to take a step back because English teams’ domination of the Next Gen would suggest there is much to come.
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