Another match day of the UEFA Champions League Group Stage is over and once again, English teams struggled. Liverpool lost 1-0 to Real Madrid, Arsenal blew a 3 goal lead to draw to Anderlecht, Manchester City lost to CSKA Moscow 2-1 with 9 men and Chelsea struggled to draw to Maribor 1-1. England is currently 2nd in UEFA coefficient but English teams have been struggling this entire season. Why are English teams struggling?
The main reason English teams are struggling in Europe is because of league competition. This year in EPL play, except for Chelsea, teams are beating the crap out of each other every week. Manchester City and Arsenal may currently be in 3rd and 4th in the league but I wouldn’t say they are playing particularly well. Liverpool is 7th and with their recent form, I can’t imagine them beating anyone in England right now. What this means is that you cannot take any team for granted when playing in the EPL.
In the EPL, you need to have your top players playing every game because even a team like Newcastle can and have given trouble to a more talented team like Manchester City. Top teams in other leagues have the luxury of resting starters in league play to prepare for UCL play. Let’s face it, Real Madrid can beat Granada with their eyes closed so they can focus their efforts on beating Liverpool and still easily get the win in La Liga. Liverpool, or any other English team, doesn’t have that luxury. An anomaly to this reasoning has to be Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund is currently tied for last in the Bundesliga and are dominating their group in Champions League. I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t explain that.
Another reason for English teams struggling is that other leagues have much more talented teams than teams in England. Let’s face it, the best individual players in the world aren’t playing in England. England’s top players in the last couple years, Gareth Bale and Luis Suarez, have transferred to Spain. Seeing the team rosters for teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich, it’s no wonder that English teams can’t stand a chance. From top to bottom, the EPL is the best league in the world but they don’t have the best teams in the world.
Anyway, there are two more games left in the Group Stage and it remains to be seen whether or not English teams can advance to the Knockout Stage. After 4 games, Liverpool is 3rd with 3 points, Arsenal is 2nd with 7, Manchester City is 4th with 2 and Chelsea is 1st with 8. Looking at that, having 2 of 4 teams advancing seems pretty good. All those teams haven’t had the best form but all 4 teams have a chance at moving to the Knockout Stage. After the Group Stage, who knows. Maybe things can turn around once the January window hits.