Football

Champions League: Why are English teams struggling?

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This season's English representatives in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League come in the form of Chelsea and Manchester United.

Manchester City and Arsenal were the other English clubs in the competition but both failed to win their groups which resulted in them receiving Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the knockout phase of the competition.

But just why do Premier League clubs find it so hard to juggle both European football and league football in comparison to their European counterparts?

The first major reason is the competition in the Premier League in contrast to other European Leagues. In the Premier League, you cannot afford to rest players for European competition even when you are playing the so-called lesser sides like Fulham, Cardiff and Sunderland.

Anyone can beat anyone and to make sure you get three points, you have to play your best players even though you may have a big European game coming up. As there is not much between the top sides in the Premier League - all of the current top-seven have played in the Champions League in the last 10 years, there is always a tough fixture with the games between the top sides having more importance as they could determine where you finish in the league.

Bayern Munich have Borussia Dortmund as their only real threat to the Bundesliga title and even they are 23 points behind a Bayer side w ho will win the title this week - even before they have played their Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United.

In Spain and Germany, Barcelona and Bayern Munich can afford to make changes during their league fixtures, resting the likes of Arjen Robben and Xavi before they play their mid-week European game. Manchester United and Chelsea are not afforded that luxury.

The Premier League has more than four teams fighting to get into the top four, therefore three points in the league is just as important as winning their Champions League fixture. Chelsea - who were the last English team to win the Champions League - had to sacrifice their league position in doing so, finishing sixth with Tottenham and Newcastle finishing above them in the table.

The money that finishing in the top 4four provides is so important to English clubs. For example, Arsenal have not won the Champions League but have finished in the top four for the past 14 seasons.

Another reason why English clubs struggle to compete in both competitions is the physicality and intensity of the Premier League that takes its toll on the squads.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United all have relatively big squads but all have had major players injured this season. Vincent Kompany and Sergio Aguero are big players for Manchester City who have missed huge chunks of the season due to injury whilst Arsenal have been without Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere and Mesut Ozil for long periods of time.

English clubs also do not have the luxury of a winter break in contrast to their European rivals. Whilst Premier League clubs are slugging away on Boxing Day and New Year's Day, the rest of Europe are watching them do that from the comfort of their homes as they take at least a two-week break in the winter months with some leagues like the Bundesliga taking almost a month out.

This helps rejuvenate the players physically and mentally whereas the Christmas period has the complete opposite effect in England, with your position at Christmas and how well you do in the Christmas period having a major effect on your final league position.

With all this to think about, Manchester United and Chelsea are still flying the flag for the Premier League in the Champions League this season and with a bit of luck, who knows, they could be lifting the famous trophy in Lisbon come May 24.

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Topics:
UEFA Champions League
Football

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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