If this was asked more than a year back, the answer would have been a big no. But after both the European finals became an all-English affair last season, can we expect the English giants to come out strong in UEFA Champions League 2019-20 season?
Only two English clubs managed to win the European Cup in the last 11 years. Last season, Liverpool beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in Madrid to claim their sixth title after going down in 2018 final to Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid. For five years before that, no English side even managed to reach the final of the biggest club competition in the world of football.
While Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi reigned supreme, opponents took a backseat. But with age catching up with the two-star footballers, who by the way are still forces to be reckoned with, it is not unlikely that the top sides in England remain dominant by advancing to the later stages of the tournament.
With the influence of Premier League money, the English sides have stomped their supremacy above everyone else in Europe. Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea are currently undercut by periods of transition but the huge difference in resources of various clubs almost makes the results predictable in the group stage.
Liverpool dream of reaching another final in Istanbul. 2005 final not only had a major impact on the history of the Reds but also left a deep memory with the people of Istanbul. Liverpool did not leave Istanbul with only the trophy that year but also with a whole new base of fans.
The reigning champions, who currently sit top with a perfect start to their domestic season, begin their campaign in Italy against Napoli. Coach Jurgen Klopp, however, ruled out English dominance.
“We have the same chance like everyone else, but that is all, and I don’t see us, the English teams, dominating. Bayern Munich now finally brought in Ivan Perisic and Philippe Coutinho, which is like a big boost,” he said. “Look at the squad Borussia Dortmund has and tell me we are stronger than them. They can make five changes and you think: ‘Really? they didn’t play last week? Why? There are a lot of quality teams – Juventus will be there, PSG will be there. Whatever happens they will find solutions. Real Madrid? Do you think they gave up already.”
After Pep Guardiola’s side won every domestic trophy last season, there is more pressure on Manchester City to land the European crown. Guardiola has not won a UCL title in over eight years now, despite a record of two quarter-final appearances and one in the last 16 while at the Etihad. Placed in one the easiest Champions League group, back-to-back English champions travel to Ukraine for their group stage opener against Shakhtar Donetsk.
PSG begin their campaign against Real Madrid while Barcelona take on German heavyweights Borussia Dortmund in their European openers. Big clashes await but the real drama and action will only unfold with the competition moving into the knockout rounds.
For European giants like Ronaldo’s side Juventus, Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain and Robert Lewandowski’s Bayern Munich, the Champions League run becomes the only glory the success of their season depends upon. However, lack of competition domestically sometimes also plays against them for lack of top-level football exposure.
Ajax made a strong mark last season as they shocked Europe by not only reaching the semi-finals but also defeating big clubs on their way. The Dutch champions, however, entered this season’s tournament in the third qualifying round.