Last season’s Champion League was the first time in 15 years that an English club failed to feature in the quarter-final stage.
Not even the history and success of Manchester United or Arsenal, nor the power and wealth of Chelsea and Manchester City could earn them a place in the last eight which contained three Spanish and two German teams.
But cast your mind back five years ago when it was the English clubs who dominated Europe’s most prestigious competition. In 2008 three of the four semi finalists came from the Premier league, before Manchester United triumphed over Chelsea in an unprecedented final between the two English giants.
The following year it was a similar story, however United’s defeat to Barcelona indicated a shift in power and a Spanish revolution.
The Barcelona dream team left many huge clubs in the shadows, not least their biggest rivals Real Madrid who haven’t lifted the trophy since 2002.
Out of the English teams United still posed the biggest threat, and once again came up narrowly short to Barca in the 2011 final at Wembley.
However it was Chelsea who ensured the trophy returned to England with their unforeseen triumph in 2012. It may not have been strongest Chelsea side in the Roman Abramovich era but under Roberto Di Matteo they conquered the mighty Barcelona before a dramatic victory over Bayern Munich on penalty kicks, clinched them the title.
Last year’s competition may have been a disaster for the Premier league clubs, as they were brushed aside in the lead up to an all German final between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund.
But could this year be different?
Three of the four English teams in this year’s competition have a new manager and an opportunity for a fresh start.
Could Manchester City’s big spending finally pay off on the biggest stage? Will Arsene Wenger finally end Arsenal’s trophy wait? Can David Moyes begin his own legacy at United? Or perhaps the special one, Jose Mourinho, will inspire Chelsea to success?
Only time will tell if any of them can compete with the talent from counties like Spain and Germany. The second rounds of fixtures take place next week as the early favourites attempt to make their stamp on the competition.
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