It was another great week for English clubs in the Champions League with four of the five representatives winning, and all five looking sure to advance to the knock-out stages. Ben McAleer analyses their chances of success...
On Wednesday night, wins for Manchester City and Tottenham against Napoli and Real Madrid, respectively, saw them join PSG and Bayern Munich in booking their place in the next round of the Champions League. With two games still to play, the quartet are afforded breathing space ahead of the business end of the group stages.
But just how do the English teams fare against their European counterparts in the bid to lift the Champions League in May?

Manchester City

At the time of writing, big spending PSG are 7/2 favourites to win Europe's elite club competition, but hot on their heels are Premier League counterparts Manchester City at 5/1 having been matched at a high of 17.00 on the Exchange.
Pep Guardiola's side are clicking into gear and seem unstoppable at present, with the likes of Leroy Sane, Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne all on top form and firing on all cylinders, while new club record goalscorer Sergio Aguero and wonderkid Gabriel Jesuswill always score you goals in this team.
The arrival of Ederson has also boosted the team defensively, with the confidence he exudes between the sticks resonating throughout the team. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendihave upped their respective games after an indifferent debut campaign together at the Etihad Stadium. Guardiola boasts the necessary experience in Europe's elite club competition to take City all the way and deliver continental glory at the second time of asking.
However, injuries at the back could hinder their progression in the Champions League further down the line. With Vincent Kompany seemingly a permanent fixture in the treatment room, City are thin on the ground at centre-back should Stones or Otamendi succumb to injury. Danilo can operate as an auxiliary centre-back where required, but it's concern in their bid for success.

Manchester United

Following suit are City's rivals Manchester United, who need only to avoid defeat in their remaining two matches to secure their place in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Given Jose Mourinho's experience in cup competitions, as exhibited in their Europa League triumph last season, United to win the Champions League at 14/1 is not to be sniffed at.
They are solid at the back having conceded just one goal in four Champions League matches this season, while a clean sheet against Benfica on Tuesday night saw them secure their fourth successive home clean sheet in the competition for the first time since 2008. With key players Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba and Marouane Fellaini still to return to fitness, Mourinho has ample strength in depth at his disposal.
United are yet to be truly tested in the Champions League, however, and when up against tougher opposition, they could come unstuck in the latter stages. Mourinho, though, is experienced enough to deliver a third Champions League crown to Old Trafford this season.

Tottenham

Tottenham were given just a slim chance of securing a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League when the draw was made back in September, yet a stunning 3-1 win over Real Madrid on Wednesday night guaranteed them a place in the last-16. They've come a long way since the 1-0 loss to Bayer Leverkusen at Wembley 12 months ago. In what feels like a changing of the guard in the Champions League, Mauricio Pochettino's side are now 16/1 to win the competition, that shorter than last season's finalists Juventus (18/1).
Like Mourinho with United, Pochettino has a strong squad beyond the starting XI, noted in that Serge Aurier, Heung-min Son and Danny Rose were all unused subs in midweek. They have the competition's second-top scorer in Harry Kane (five) spearheading the attack and are willing to harry opponents in pursuit of possession, which will go a long way to upsetting the Champions League's apple cart.
Inexperience, though, could be what sets them back in the latter stages of the competition. Pochettino's project is very much in its infancy and while the pragmatic approach worked against Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid, they rode their luck to secure positive results against the pair. That being said, there's an aura of the unknown about Tottenham and that could work in their favour to upset Europe's giants.

Liverpool

Liverpool moved to the top of Group E with a comfortable 3-0 win over Maribor on Wednesday night and remain one of eight teams yet to lose a Champions League match this season. They're conceding the fewest shots per game (5.3) with their defence relatively watertight, all things considered, in Europe. At 25/1, they remain outsiders to lift the trophy, but they shouldn't be discounted in the blink of an eye.
The Reds boast one of the best attacks in Europe when fit. Indeed, only PSG (17) have scored more Champions League goals than Liverpool (13) this season. That being said, they still have a difficult trip to Sevilla to navigate, while they welcome of Spartak Moscow on gameweek six is a potential banana skin for Jurgen Klopp's side.
On top of that, their ongoing defensive issues could again flare up at any moment and against tougher opposition, they will be punished. Three points ahead of third-placed Spartak Moscow, Liverpool should still qualify from their group, but it's a huge risk to back them to go all the way.

Chelsea

Similarly, Chelsea are also available at 25/1 to win the Champions League, but are in a more perilous position to Liverpool. The Blues fell to a disappointing 3-0 loss to Group C leaders Roma on Tuesday night, best remembered for their group defending attempts to halt an Edin Dzeko run in the second half. They have been fortunate in Atletico Madrid's lacklustre attempts to overcome Qarabag, with successive draws meaning the Blues sit three points above their La Liga counterparts.
They're still to face Atletico at Stamford Bridge, which could turn out to be a straight shootout for a place in the next round. Roma have to travel to Madrid too and that bodes well for Chelsea in their bid to finish in the top two. N'Golo Kante's return to fitness is also a huge boost for Antonio Conte, who needs to quickly turn Chelsea's form around.
Yet, the absence of Kante has brought to light a wider problem. Chelsea have struggled with the Frenchman sidelined and have faltered with an increased workload that came with their return to the Champions League. Keeping Kante fit is crucial, as is Conte working out a system to keep his players fresh and fighting on more than one front.

0 nhận xét Blogger 0 Facebook

Post a comment

 
Top