Are English teams struggling in the Champions League?

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It does not take much from the media to get under Alex Ferguson's skin but on Tuesday when a journalist stated "The two best teams in England are struggling in Europe" it made way for some debate.

This caused Sir Alex to up-and-leave the press conference but the Scotsman was still smiling and I think I know why.

People need to be made aware of the fact that United are still yet to lose in the competition this season and are level on points with group C-leaders Benfica.

They also need not be reminded that United only need a draw in their final group game against FC Basel to be sent through to the last 16, albeit second in the group.

On the outside chance that Benfica drop points against Romanian champions Otelul Galati and The Red Devils get their win - you guessed it - they top the group. The outlook is not so bleak now, is it?

If that does not happen, finishing second in what may be perceived as a relatively easy group may disappoint some but looking at the bigger picture making it into the last 16 is the only thing that matters. Especially if you live by the 'taking each game at a time approach' plus it by no means unrealistic to say, on their day, United can beat anybody - including Barcelona, maybe.

More concern should be with Premier League high-flyers Manchester City. The blue half of Manchester have struggled to take their incredible start to the Premier League campaign into Europe.

Mancini's side sit third in Group A behind Bayern Munich and Napoli and having lost twice, progression is no longer in their own hands. That said, a win in their final game against group-leaders Bayern will be an accomplishment in itself and providing Napoli do not win at Villareal, City will go through.

If Napoli do get a win at bottom-of-the-group Villareal then City could still progress into the Europa League - where they would be huge favourites.

Ironically Arsenal, who sit lowest in the Premier league out of the four English teams in Europe, were the first of the clubs to have their name placed in the hat when the draw comes round on the 16th December.

The Gunners did it in style by topping Group F and not losing any of their five games. Hopefully this will be the benchmark for the other English clubs to follow.

Chelsea, despite losing on Tuesday night, still remain favourites to qualify in their group in their make-or-break fixture against Valencia - the winner of which makes it through to the knockout stages.

Saying English teams are struggling in Europe is a massive over-statement - saying English teams make things hard for themselves in Europe is a fairer reflection, but since when did they make anything easy for themselves?

Think back to the last three Champions League campaigns that ended in glory for English clubs, 1999, when Manchester United scored two goals in the final minute to steal victory over Bayern, 2005 when Liverpool came back from three goals down at half-time to win on penalties against AC Milan and the 2006 final between Chelsea and Manchester United - again where the match could have went either way - United the eventual winners after a dramatic 6-5 penalty shootout.

I believe three of the four English clubs in this campaign will progress and the one that does not will quite possibly go on to win the Europa League and that's not too bad, if you ask me.

Manchester City
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United

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