CITY FLY FLAG FOR ENGLAND IN EUROPE
The first round of Champions League games are over, but which English club is best placed to maybe go all the way in the competition?
Manchester City and Leicester City got their campaigns off to flying starts while Arsenal were fortunate to get a draw and Tottenham made a nightmare start at Wembley.
Manchester City are fourth favourites to win the Champions League after the big three of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich and it would be hard not to argue that Pep Guardiola’s men stand the best chance of the four English representatives to lift the trophy in May.
City reached the semi-finals last season and began their sixth successive group stage campaign with a thumping 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach in a delayed clash at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.
Bigger tests lie ahead for City with Barcelona also in their group, but City have made a perfect start to life under Guardiola winning their opening seven games in all competitions under the Spaniard.
Guardiola was brought to City with the idea of winning Europe’s biggest prize and building a dynasty and a legacy at the club as before last season they struggled to make any type of impact in the Champions League.
That will surely change under Guardiola’s stewardship with the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager reaching the last four of the Champions League in all seven seasons of his managerial career, winning it twice with Barcelona.
Spanish sides have dominated the European scene in the last six years with Barcelona and Real Madrid winning four of the last six Champions League finals, but Guardiola and City could challenge that dominance.
Last season’s disappointing semi-final defeat to Real Madrid is long forgotten by City and under Guardiola they are capable of going two steps further and really announcing City’s arrival at Europe’s top table.
Leicester City made a fairy-tale start in their debut campaign in the Champions League with a 3-0 win over Club Brugge, but surely Leicester going all the way in Europe this season would surpass their improbable Premier League title success last season.
Claudio Ranieri’s men showed no sign of nerves on their first night on Europe’s biggest stage and no doubt they will enjoy their European adventure for as long as it lasts, but don’t rule out the Foxes of upsetting some of the elite clubs along the way.
Arsenal got out of jail with a 1-1 draw against Paris Saint Germain in their opening game and they will need luck on their side if they are to improve on a disappointing recent record in the Champions League.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger feels this season represents a big opportunity for his side to make an impact in the latter stages of the Champions League as all too recently they have been the perennial early knockout-stage casualties going out of the competition at the round of 16 for the last seven seasons.
Arsenal have the experience and quality in their squad to pose a serious threat to their rivals in the Champions League, but all too often they find themselves falling short when it comes to the big games.
Tottenham got off to the worst possible start losing to Monaco in front of a record crowd at Wembley and Mauricio Pochettino’s men are already playing catch-up.
Spurs are playing in Europe’s elite tournament for the first time since 2010-11 where they reached the quarter-finals and hopes are high that Pochettino’s exciting young side can reach the latter stages of the competition.
Tottenham, who are playing home Champions League matches at Wembley while their new stadium is being built, failed to rise to the occasion against Monaco and any more slip ups could see their return to Europe’s premier competition short-lived.
If the Premier League really sees itself as the best league in the world it is about time its clubs stood up and challenged the best of what the rest of Europe has got to offer.