England takes break from Champions League success

As this season’s Champions League moves into the quarter-final stages, no English teams are present for the second time in three season. What is more, no English side is still competing in either of Europe’s top two club competitions at this stage for the first time in 22 years – a bit strange considering the success enjoyed by English sides, particularly over the past 15 years or so.

Indeed, when a Porto side managed by a certain Jose Mourinho lifted the Champions League crown in 2004, English sides would soon go on to embark on an impressive five season run with at least one representative in the final two, with Liverpool and Man Utd winning it once each, and finishing runner-up once each too. Liverpool would win the competition a year after Porto’s success, famously overcoming a three goal deficit to draw level and snatch the tournament on penalties, right from under AC Milan’s noses. The following season, Barcelona would defeat north Londoners Arsenal 2-1, and 12 months later AC would finally get revenge on their conquerors in 2004 by running out as champions with a 2-1 win over Liverpool.

Man Utd would go on to claim their second European triumph under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008 by beating Chelsea in what remains the only all-English Champions League final, with their victory coming on penalties. They had a chance to retain the trophy the following season, but fell to a 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Final.

The 2009/2010 season would prove considerably disappointing for Premier League sides, however, without a single representative in the semi-finals for the first time in seven seasons. Indeed, throughout the previous three consecutive campaigns the Premier League had provided three out of the last four teams, but Man Utd would return to the Final yet again the following season, once more falling short to a superb Barcelona side. Chelsea won the tournament in 2012, under the guidance of Roberto Di Matteo.

This season, things had been looking OK for English sides heading into the last 16, with three of this season’s four competitors advancing beyond the group stages. Liverpool were the only ones to fall out earlier than the last 16. Chelsea, Man City and Arsenal would all fall short against PSG (on away goals), Barcelona (1-3 on aggregate) and Monaco (on away goals) respectively, and so now focus will be turned to a top-four Premier League finish in order to qualify for another crack at the trophy next season.

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