Can English clubs still qualify from the Champions League group stage?
With UEFA mulling over a decision to reduce the number of English teams that can qualify for the Champions League in 2017/18, Coral run the rule whether each of the four clubs can progress to the last 16 of this season’s competition with odds of 11/2 available. Let’s review case-by-case.
Nil point from two games will have left Arsene Wenger feeling like a turkey who just found Bernard Matthews grinning at him. Against Dinamo Zagreb, his selection suggested complacency at best – clueless at worst. The visit of Olympiakos should have been a home banker, though again, there was an arrogance about the side that they had no right to.
Barring Alexis Sanchez who, is arguably their only world class player with his ability to run and harry for 90 minutes plus scoring vital goals, the Gunners aren’t taking Europe’s elite club compeition seriously.
Two unlikely wins against Bayern Munich or, in the worse case scenario a home win and away draw, plus a further two victories should be enough to see them progress. Arsenal have to start treating the Champions League with respect, and are 5/2 to make the knockout phase.
Seeing as this is one trophy that Jose Mourinho craves for the club, there is the general feeling that this would have filtered down through to the players, though not much has gone right for the Blues this term.
Three points from two games isn’t too disastrous, though a defeat in Porto would not have been expected. However, Chelsea can probably expect to qualify and still afford to drop two more points at the most, though they should be aiming for a maximum record as the Stamford Bridge side are still odds-on 5/6 favourites to win Champions League Group G.
Convincing wins from their next two matches can give City the momentum they need, and we will find out whether they finally have what it takes with what is likely to be two competitive clashes with Sevilla, Europa League winners of the last two seasons.
Sergio Aguero needs to do emulate compatriot Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo and own the competition. At the minute, he isn’t selfish enough and, if he gets among the goals, City have a great chance and are 5/2 to top Group D.
Despite a defeat away at PSV Eindhoven in their last Champions League match, in recent weeks they seem to have rediscovered the cutting edge they had under Sir Alex Ferguson, largely in part to new blockbuster signing Anthony Martial, who has also got the best out of fellow recruit Memphis Depay.
Of all the English sides, United probably have the personnel who are best suited to Europe and continental competition, which historically, has generally been the case over the last two decades. Although they have tricky ties against Wolfsburg and CSKA Moscow, they should progress relatively unscathed, and are presently well priced at 7/4 to top Group B.