The Premier League clubs have struggled to make an impact in Europe over the past few seasons and have struggled early on in the Champions League this term.
Expectation was high for the opening group stage fixtures, but the only English club to win were Chelsea, who beat Maccabi Tel Aviv 4-0.
The other three English teams all lost, with Arsenal losing to Dinamo Zagreb 2-1, Man City slumping to a 2-1 defeat to Juventus, while Man United suffered a 2-1 away defeat to PSV.
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With three out of the four teams losing, the feeling was it could only get better for the Premier League clubs in their second games.
An off-form Chelsea side travelled to Portugal to face Jose Mourinho’s ex-club Porto. With three points already picked up in the last group game, it was another chance to prove they’re still a major force in Europe.
Chelsea failed to turn their dominance into goals and, although enjoying 57 per cent of possession, did not create enough chances to win the game.
Porto had 22 shots at goal and won the game 2-1, which was fully deserved and yet again Chelsea’s defence was exploited - as it has been all season.
Arsenal hosted Greek side Olympiakos in their second game and were out-and-out favourites to win the match.
Olympiakos are a challenging opponent at home but don’t travel well, yet still shocked Arsenal and led the game 1-0.
Theo Walcott immediately equalised to bring it back level but David Ospina’s butter fingers meant Olympiakos were back in the lead before half time. The classy, Alexis Sanchez headed home to make it 2-2 but yet again Olympiakos scored again and took advantage of some atrocious defending.
The Gunners had 70 per cent possession and double the chances of their rivals but were very wasteful and sloppy at the back.
Manchester City have never been drawn the easy group and, away from home, were always going to find German side Borussia Mönchengladbach a tough side to beat away from home.
City had rested their best players for this match and that was one of the main reasons why they were demolished by Spurs at White Hart Lane in the Premier League at the weekend.
The Citizens struggled to break through in this game though, even with their best players fit, but managed to fight back from a goal down to win the game 2-1.
This is a huge three points for them and will give them a platform to progress further. It is a massive morale booster and takes the pressure off the next game.
Manchester United faced Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg at Old Trafford. After a defeat in their first game it was vital they got three points at home in this fixture.
Wolfsburg struck early and were ahead within four minutes which caught the Red Devils off guard. It was always going to be a tough game but this early goal fuelled United to hit back and they dominated the first half completely.
It was an entertaining end to end game and United’s pressure eventually told, when Juan Mata converted from the penalty spot after a blatant handball in the box.
It was certainly a ‘game of two halfs’ though, as Wolfsburg bossed the second half completely and caused United no end of problems. They were the offensive team and if it wasn’t for the much improved Chris Smalling at the back, United would have conceded again and lost the game.
Smalling was the hero at both ends and won Man United the game with the decisive goal!
It was a really good test for Louis Van Gaal’s side and showed they can defend and see out games, even when under immense amounts of pressure.
THE PRESSURE TO PERFORM
There is massive pressure for English teams to start performing in Europe or they may not get the luxury of having four teams in the Champions League.
If results don’t improve, the governing bodies may decide to reduce the number of Premier League teams in the competition to two, which would be a huge blow and create no end of financial problems too.
The Champions League is the competition for the best teams in Europe and as the Premier League is the best league in the world and holds the most money, the decision to reduce the four teams to two would cause chaos and be a real shame.
WILL ALL OUR TEAMS MAKE THE KNOCKOUT PHASE?
It will be difficult but it is a necessity that our top four teams can get through their groups and into the knockout stages.
Group B is perfectly poised with all teams on three points and with Man United’s quality and experience they are bankers to get through and for me they’ll win this group.
Man City have quite a tough group in Group D but have far too much talent in their squad not to go through. Whether they can win the group remains to be seen and Juve will definitely be the favourites now, given they’ve won their first two games.
Arsenal are bottom of Group F, and for me they are the major concerns for qualification to the knockout stages. They have the quality in their side but will not win the group because Bayern Munich are on another level to them.
They will have to scrap for second place and by the looks of this Arsenal team they don’t have that many fighters in their ranks. Sanchez has that fight and determination to pull the Gunners through but you do have to question the others at times, especially given the start they’ve made.
Chelsea are third in Group G but should have enough to qualify. Topping the group would have been the aim but given their awful start this season, second will do.
If they keep playing like they are at the moment and don’t improve defensively they will face an uphill task to qualify, which would have been a major shock if you’d said this when the draw was made.
Can our Premier League teams succeed in the Champions League - or will it be another disappointing season in Europe? Have your say below!
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