5 things that suggest British football might be experiencing a Champions League comeback
The last British side to reach the Champions League final was Chelsea in 2012.
From 2005 to 2012, British football clubs made eight appearances in Champions League finals, winning the competition three times during that period.
However, since then only Chelsea and Manchester City have made it to the semi-final stages, and then only once each.
But the 2017/18 crop of six British sides in Europe’s top competition, five from the Premier League and Celtic from the Scottish Premier League, looks like one of the strongest in recent seasons – is British football back in business?
1. Chelsea demonstrate champion credentials in Madrid
Chelsea in the dying seconds!!!— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 27, 2017
Look at that reaction from Antonio Conte 🙌 pic.twitter.com/HGvGoX0Y0h
One of the toughest away assignments in the world is Atletico Madrid, especially after going behind to a first-half penalty.
Chelsea passed the test with flying colours, though, after a stoppage time Michy Batshuayi goal snatched victory from the jaws of what would have been an impressive group stage draw regardless.
2. Manchester United’s swagger is well and truly back
Terrific performance from the lads tonight. Not easy to control a game that much away in Europe.@ManUtd— Michael Carrick (@carras16) September 27, 2017
United’s 4-1 victory away to CSKA Moscow was hugely impressive in the city where the club recorded its last Champions League title, almost 10 years ago.
They’re a way off the level of that great United side but Jose Mourinho’s team are scoring goals for fun right now (seven in two group games) and the continent’s elite might just be starting to fear the return of a giant.
3. Celtic achieve their first Champions League away win in five years
Celtic are 2 up in Anderlecht and on course for their first @ChampionsLeague away win in 5 years.— Gary Lineker (@GaryLineker) September 27, 2017
It’s unlikely that Celtic will win the Champions League this year but a fine 3-0 win against Anderlecht saw them record their first Champions League away victory in five years.
They’ve got their work cut out in a group that includes Paris St-Germain and Bayern Munich, but third place would see Celtic playing Europa League football come 2018.
4. World-class Kane a match for anyone
😄 Left foot— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 26, 2017
😁 Right foot
Harry Kane with the perfect Champions League hat-trick.
Class 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/IKfUJ0gnMz
Harry Kane has already scored five Champions League goals this season, making him the top goalscorer after two games – two of those came in a 3-1 win against 2013 finalists Borussia Dortmund while a perfect hat-trick against APOEL made it five.
An established striker in the Premier League now, the 24-year-old is keen to show he can score goals in abundance on the European stage too – he will have a chance to prove himself when Spurs travel to holders Real Madrid in October.
5. Guardiola’s nous begins to show
Beautiful 😍— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 26, 2017
Kevin De Bruyne puts it in the top corner from distance!
Great goal 🙌 pic.twitter.com/S5WiZ9qhM0
Pep Guardiola managed arguably the greatest club side of all time at Barcelona, winning the Champions League twice in 2009 and 2011 – nobody is suggesting that Manchester City are in that bracket, but they have stamped their authority all over Group F as champions might.
City’s squad is one of the deepest in the competition and wins of 4-0 away and 2-0 at home suggest the Citizens will have no trouble making it to the knockout stages, where Guardiola’s penchant for squad rotation could ensure his side is fresh for a run to the latter stages.