Since Didier Drogba struck that famous penalty past Manuel Neuer in 2012, English clubs have yet to threaten to come even close to what Roberto Di Matteo and Chelsea achieved that night.
The ongoing Arsene Wenger saga is back in the news after Arsenal’s 5-1 thrashing at the Allianz Arena, a performance that couldn’t have been more juxtaposed to Chelsea’s final victory those five years ago. Belief, fight, and endeavour won Chelsea that trophy, everything Arsenal lacked as they were humiliatingly annihilated by Bayern Munich.
That result sort of sums up how far off English clubs have been from real success in Europe in recent years. Since John Terry lifted the trophy, no English club has reached a Champions League final. Chelsea have reached the Semi Finals in 2013 where they were knocked out by Atletico Madrid, and last year Manchester City were eliminated in the last four by Real Madrid.
The competition has become a battle between Spain and Germany predominantly, Juventus have come to the forefront in recent years too. When the Champions League knockout stages are drawn, it’s always a case of avoiding the Madrid’s, Barcelona and Bayern. English clubs just don’t seem to have the fear factor associated with them anymore. In the period from 2004-2008, five consecutive finals had English teams in it, what has changed so much since then? The Champions League, or European Cup as it was previously known, is a tournament basked in history and English success. Perhaps the glory days will return, but severe strides must be taken for them to do so.
It says it all when Manchester United and Chelsea, two of England’s heavyweights and the finalists of the 2008 tournament, can’t even qualify. I’m sure I speak for many footballing fans in England when I say I’m sick of seeing clubs we have grown up to watch and associate with being the ‘big’ footballing powers, beaten by teams around the world year after year. In this retrospect, the situation seems all too similar to the trouble England seem to face every couple years at major tournaments. The mentality of the England squad was largely questioned after Euro 2016 and it would seem the same should go for Premier League teams in the Champions League. As it stands our clubs just aren’t on the same pedestal as other clubs around Europe. Conte, Guardiola, Klopp, Mourinho, Wenger, these are huge names in football, and the squads, huge players too. It is time for the Premier League province to reinstate itself. Supposedly the biggest, best and hardest league in the world, it’s time to live up to its name.
Leicester City’s fairytale title winning season should’ve made the big clubs wake up. Although what Leicester achieved last season was remarkable and deserved, it should never have been achieved and they made history that people of today will remember and speak about forever. It seems like normality in the Premier League has been restored this season, with the usual folk back in and amongst the top six. It’s time for the big guns to do it on the big stage now, the worldwide stage. The managers are here to do it for sure, the question being, how long will it be till the trophy comes back to England?
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