March 11th, 2014 by Admin
This article originally appeared at Soccer Classroom
For those who had expected a strong Champions League showing for the English Premier League clubs involved in the round of 16, they will have been sorely disappointed in what they saw. Clearly there is still a large margin of talent between these clubs and the massive powerhouses of Europe like Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and that reality was clearly exposed in several dominating performances. Meanwhile, even the supposedly softer opponents faced by some proved to be a tricky feat. Nevertheless, England is now facing the very real possibility that all 4 teams will get booted from the tournament before the quarterfinal stage, which would be a severe disappointment for the stature of English soccer clubs and their top players.
The first beating was handed to Manchester City by Barcelona. The blue team from Manchester has been growing in stature for roughly 5 years with big spending and now has an incredibly talented side, but the Spaniards strolled into the Etihad Stadium and wiped them clean, 2-0. It was all pretty ugly, and manager Manuel Pellegrini was left fuming at the referee (and has since been banned for 2 matches). They fell apart from a lack of experience in the competition. Meanwhile Barcelona, who knows a thing or two about winning the Champions League simply took care of work and now face a fairly easy return trip to the Nou Camp where they should progress.
Likewise, Arsenal stuttered out of the gates in a 2-0 loss to reigning German champions Bayern Munich. They were also left bemused by the referee over a red card to their goalie, but once again the continental side was able to stroll into England and waltz away with a comfortable 2-0 lead. Heading back to Munich will be a major test for the Gunners. They may prove to put up a bit of a fight but recent years have seen them consistently come up just a bit short.
But the overwhelming disappointment for English football was Manchester United, who succumbed 2-0 to Olympiacos in Greece. While they have certainly had a down year, the Red Devils still boast an offensive trio of Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, and Juan Mata. For them to fail in such a game is astounding, and manager David Moyes looks to be edging nearer to the chopping block! Fortunately, they will have a home date to make amends but I have very little hope for this team either.
If there is hope for British soccer it might just have to come in the form of Chelsea, who drew 1-1 away to Galatasaray of Turkey. But while they took an early lead, the Blues totally let their opponents back into the game and ended up scrapping and defending for the first leg draw. While they are the bettor’s favorites to progress at Stamford Bridge, I have some doubts with their famed opponent and former hero Didier Drogba in the lineup for Galatasaray anything can truly happen. However, one must think that Jose Mourinho will navigate his side through.
And so you can clearly see that the first knockout round for English soccer teams in the Champions League has been a bit of a disaster. While some of the matchups were definitely unfavorable, you really would have expected some more out of these clubs that are amongst the highest rated in the world. While the second legs do provide hope for some dramatic turnarounds, I suspect that England will be lucky to have just one team reach the quarterfinals of the Champions League this year!Champions, League, Premier, Struggling, Teams