Are English teams the new force in the UEFA Champions League?
After Liverpool and Manchester City both came out on top in their Round of 16 ties, the Quarter Finals of the UEFA Champions League will include a total of four English clubs for the first time since 2008/09, as they join Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur, who both qualified last week.
Whilst the Premier League suffered from a blip of no regular contenders for the UEFA Champions League, English clubs are now starting to challenge more and more for European football's biggest trophy. This was signaled last season through Liverpool reaching the final of the competition, even though they finished just fourth in the Premier League, with the teams that finished above them all being knocked out much earlier in the competition. This degree of unreliability in the Champions League highlights the level of competitiveness in the Premier League.
This contrasts heavily with past campaigns, with the 2016/17 season for instance, only having Leicester City in the Quarter Finals, who did not manage to go through to the Semi Finals, after being beaten by eventual finalists, Atletico Madrid.
In the past, England's best era in the UEFA Champions League came in the mid-2000s, with Liverpool and Manchester United both winning the title, whilst plenty of clubs progressed to the Semi Finals on multiple occasions.
However, one should not assume that because there are plenty of English clubs in the latter stages of the competition, that they are going to go on and win the whole tournament, as this was previously done in 2008/09, where three clubs went through to the Semi Finals, yet Barcelona, the only non-English club remaining, went on to win the final, as Lionel Messi scored a header against Manchester United.
Therefore, whilst English clubs are showing plenty of promise so far, one should not take things for granted, especially with the way that the Champions League is unfolding so far this season, with plenty of surprising comebacks dominating the headlines.