February 21, 2019, 19:45

Premier League clubs close to Champions League record

Premier League clubs close to Champions League record

This season’s Premier League contingent in the Champions League are on the brink of creating history if all five clubs successfully qualify for the knockout stages this week.

No country has ever had five teams in the last-16 stage of the Champions League before but the Premier League clubs have either qualified already or are in contention to do so, heading into their final games.

Manchester City have already sealed top spot in Group F after winning all five of their matches while Tottenham are also through in first place in Group H after enjoying a superior head-to-head record against Real Madrid.

Chelsea are in the draw for the next round and will be joined by Manchester United and Liverpool, as long as they avoid defeats in their final games against CSKA Moscow and Spartak Moscow at home respectively. Victories for both, meanwhile, would secure them top spot.

This season marked the first Champions League campaign in which there were five Premier League clubs competing in the group stage after Manchester United qualified following their Europa League victory over Ajax, despite finishing sixth in the Premier League.

Should all five Premier League clubs make it safely through the group stages, it will be the first time since the 2013-14 season that all of the English clubs have progressed, highlighting the improvement that has been made this term.

Since the Champions League reverted back to a one group stage format for the 2003-04 season, the Premier League has been allocated four Champions League places, but only on six occasions in the previous 14 years, has a full complement of English teams succeeded in qualifying for the next stage.

Premier League clubs enjoyed a sustained period of success in continental competition between 2005-2012 when there were eight English Champions League finalists in as many years with Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea, all going on to win the competition.

Consequently, it isn’t surprising that during that period Premier League clubs had relatively little trouble in progressing to the last 16, with all four clubs doing so five times in those seven years.

Over the past five years, though, Premier League clubs have found it much more difficult to make much headway in the competition. In each of the last three seasons, one Premier League club has been eliminated in the group stage.

With Premier League clubs struggling, La Liga teams have unquestionably taken a stranglehold of the competition, with the past four winners of the competition all hailing from Spain’s top flight – Barcelona lifted the trophy in 2015 while Real Madrid won it in 2014, 2016 and 2017. Clubs from the Bundesliga and Serie A have provided the sternest competition.

While this is only the second time ever that a nation has had five teams in the Champions League group stages, the Premier League almost made history back in 2005-06 by having five clubs in the competition.

After Liverpool had won the Champions League in 2005 but finished fifth in the Premier League, they were given special dispensation by UEFA to compete in the qualifying rounds alongside their Merseyside neighbours. Everton, though, failed to reach the group stages, losing in controversial fashion to Villarreal in the third qualifying phase.

Only once before has one country had five participants in the Champions League and that was in 2015-16 when Spain had five clubs; Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Valencia and Europa League winners Sevilla.

Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid both progressed all the way through to the final that season with Zinedine Zidane’s side triumphing on penalties, but Sevilla and Valencia crashed out in the groups. Furthermore, only four times in the last 14 years has a full complement of La Liga teams reached the last 16.

The Champions League last-16 draw will take place in Nyon on Monday, December 11 at 11am GMT.

Source: skysports.com

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