Which British Clubs will do Well in the UCL?
Last updated: September 26, 2017 by Leon Marshal
The Champions League is now well underway, while this years’ tournament is unique in that there are a record six British teams competing in the Group Stages. Much of this has to do with Manchester United’s Europa League triumph last year, which saw them qualify automatically despite finishing in sixth place in the EPL.
Each of these sides has variable chances of succeeding in the tournament, however, as while some may struggle to escape from the groups others will harbour hopes of competing deep into the latter stages.
In this post, we will appraise the chances of each and determine who is the most likely to triumph:
We start with Manchester United, who have improved immeasurably under the skilled and pragmatic stewardship of Jose Mourinho. Since losing the European Super Cup against Real Madrid in August, the Reds have won seven of eight games in all competitions while plundering 24 goals and conceding just three in the process.
They also boast an exceptionally strong squad, while the Portuguese manager has ensured that his side is mentally strong and capable of winning games in a number of different ways.
This, coupled with a relatively straightforward group, means that the Reds are well-placed to qualify and have the tools to make their mark during the knockout stages.
Verdict: Arguably the side best equipped to deliver in the UCL, United are good value to at least reach the quarter-finals this season.
Next up are United’s city neighbours, who are beginning to look increasingly formidable under the leadership of Pep Guardiola.
The Citizens have also made an exceptional start to their group stage campaign, thrashing Dutch champions Feyenoord 4-0 in Rotterdam on match-day one before overcoming a spirited Shakhtar Donetsk team 2-0 at the Etihad Stadium. Blessed with tremendous attacking finesse and one of Europe’s form players in Kevin de Bruyne, City have scored 29 goals in nine outings so far this season and their Spanish coach appears to have developed some of his club’s core playing assets.
Considerable doubts remain over the team’s ability to win ugly, however, which could hinder City when they face Europe’s elite sides in the knockout stages.
Verdict: Despite this, City are a force to be reckoned with and should at least progress to the quarter-finals this time around.
Chelsea are something of a dark horse in this years’ UCL, although there is no doubt that the squad and their manager Antonio Conte boast considerable pedigree. The Blues have a similar playing squad to the one that reached the semi-final of the tournament back in 2014, however, while it should not be forgotten that they are the current champions of England.
The Blues have a tough qualification group, however, featuring both Spanish giants Atletico Madrid and Italian side Roma. Not only this, but they also lack the depth of squad to arguably compete deep into the tournament, and injuries and suspensions are sure to take their tool once the second half of the season arrives.
This is a huge consideration, and one that may prevent Chelsea from progressing too far into the coveted knockout stages.
Verdict: While we would expect Chelsea to narrowly overcome Roma and secure second place in the group, they will do well to progress beyond the second round and the first knockout stage.
The Reds have endured a frustrating start to life in this seasons’ Champions League, having drawn against Sevilla and Spartak Moscow despite dominating both games.
So far, Liverpool have been undermined by a lack of clinical decision making at both ends of the pitch, with the forwards struggling to convert chances in attack and the defenders failing to maintain concentration during a full 90 minutes.
Fortunately, the Reds’ double-header against Maribor should provide them with a chance to achieve qualification from the group stage, they must improve significantly if they are to achieve any longer-term ambitions.
Verdict: Unless manager Jurgen Klopp can correct the obvious flaws with his cavalier and attack-minded side, it is hard to imagine them progressing far beyond the opening knockout round this season.
While many people derided Spurs’ chances of progression following an unforgiving draw that pitted them against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, they have afforded themselves the best possible chance of progress by winning their opening two games. The club certainly rode their luck during 3-1 and 3-0 wins against Dortmund and Apoel Nicosia respectively, but Harry Kane managed to shine while scoring five goals (including a hat-trick against the Cypriots) and an assist in these games.
It was imperative that the club took maximum points from these fixtures, especially with a double-header against reigning European champions Real Madrid now looming. Spurs still have work to do, however, and could do with achieving at least a point from their two games against Madrid if they are to secure their qualification.
Verdict: Tottenham’s are a wild card in this years’ tournament, and much will depend on how they fare against Real Madrid at Wembley. Their game in Dortmund may well be the one that determines second place in the group, and if they achieve this goal the club will have showcased considerable improvement on last years’ performance.