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Premier League has FIVE teams left in the Champions League

The Premier League has five teams in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time.

From 30 group-stage fixtures they lost just three matches between them and the rest of the continent is starting to fear the re-emergence of the English challenge.

Here, we examine their Champions League credentials…

Real Madrid won the Champions League in 2017, but can an English side succeed them?

Chelsea

How did they get on in the group stage?

They started well and the win at Atletico Madrid in the second game was arguably their performance of the season. 

However, a mid-group stutter – one point from two games against Roma – meant that a good win in Qarabag was needed, and they duly got it. 

It was, then, a little unconvincing given they won just one of four against Atletico and Roma – finishing second in the group to the Italians – but they nonetheless negotiated what looked a tricky draw.

Which of their stars will Europe’s elite be most worried about?

Eden Hazard. Not only has he recaptured his brilliant form of three seasons ago, he has improved upon it. 

The Belgian has taken his game to the next level and, if he wants to be talked about in the same class as the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, influencing matches in the latter stages of the Champions League is what he now needs to do.

Belgian star Eden Hazard has been excellent for Chelsea in the Champions League group stage

Belgian star Eden Hazard has been excellent for Chelsea in the Champions League group stage

Chelsea finished second in Group C behind Roma, but finished clear of Atletico Madrid

Chelsea finished second in Group C behind Roma, but finished clear of Atletico Madrid

What’s their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

Winners in 2012 and semi-finalists in 2014, of all the English clubs they have enjoyed the most success over the last five years. 

However, twice in the last two seasons they have come up against PSG in the last-16 and that is where their journey has ended.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

They conceded six over two games against Roma and did not keep a clean sheet versus Atletico. Attack Chelsea and you will score. They’ll need N’Golo Kante back at his best to protect their backline.

Rate their chances out of 10…

5/10. Probably the least likely winners of the English quintet as doubts remain about their squad depth and defensive resilience. But they also have Hazard, who can win matches on his own, so don’t rule them out.

Cesc Fabregas and David Luiz react with dismay during Chelsea's defensive shambles at Roma

Cesc Fabregas and David Luiz react with dismay during Chelsea’s defensive shambles at Roma

Liverpool

How did they get on in the group stage?

Had it not been for PSG, they would have set a new record for goals scored in the group phase. 

Two 7-0 victories against Maribor and Spartak Moscow contributed handsomely to their tally of 23 – PSG scored 25 – and they were at times unplayable, a joy to watch. 

However, while they went through as unbeaten group winners, they failed to beat Sevilla over two games, the one quality opponent they faced.

Which of their stars will Europe’s elite be most worried about?

Philippe Coutinho. You get the impression he might just have a little extra motivation to perform on the European stage this season as he tries to keep alive Barcelona’s interest in him. 

His hat-trick against Spartak this week was evidence enough of that and he is starting to find his rhythm after a slow start to the season.

Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Liverpool scored seven against Spartak Moscow

Philippe Coutinho scored a hat-trick as Liverpool scored seven against Spartak Moscow

Liverpool topped Group E ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor

Liverpool topped Group E ahead of Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and Maribor

What’s their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

If we’re talking the past five years or so, they don’t have any. They crashed out at the group stage in 2014-15 and not since 2009 have they progressed beyond that first phase, when they were beaten in the quarter-finals by Chelsea. 

However, between 2005 and 2008 they were winners, runners-up and semi-finalists.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

Watch the second-half away at Sevilla – they led 3-0 at the break only to draw 3-3 – and you’ll have your answer. 

You fear that the very best teams could tear Liverpool to pieces at the back, thus rendering redundant their brilliant attacking quartet of Coutinho, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah.

Rate their chances out of 10…

6/10. They can beat anyone on those European nights under the lights at Anfield and, given how dangerous their offensive unit is, there is always a chance that they could simply out-score the opposition, even if it is 10-9 over two legs!

Liverpool's frailties were exposed again when they sacrificed a three-goal lead away to Sevilla

Liverpool’s frailties were exposed again when they sacrificed a three-goal lead away to Sevilla

Manchester City

How did they get on in the group stage?

They cruised through, winning the first five only to suffer defeat at Shakhtar Donetsk this week. Pep Guardiola says that loss is a good thing, and perhaps he is right, for at least it guards against complacency heading into the knockout rounds. 

Their 6-3 aggregate score against Napoli was impressive and bodes well for the next stage.

Which of their stars will Europe’s elite be most worried about?

Kevin de Bruyne. Europe’s top clubs only have to watch the Premier League highlights package on a weekly basis to realise the frightening level of form he has produced this season. 

The Belgian is at the top of his game and performing on a different level to anyone in our league right now.

Kevin de Bruyne has elevated his game to a whole new level for Manchester City this season

Kevin de Bruyne has elevated his game to a whole new level for Manchester City this season

Manchester City won five of their six group matches to finish first in Group F

Manchester City won five of their six group matches to finish first in Group F

What’s their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

They were semi-finalists in 2016 – losing to eventual winners Real Madrid – but that apart they have failed to make it past the Round of 16. 

Twice they have met Barcelona there and, while that is unfortunate, it also an upshot of not winning your group.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

Inexperience in the latter rounds. They were naive against Monaco last season and allowed them to score three away goals, which eventually proved their undoing. 

They’ll need to be a little more street smart this time around. After all, a 1-0 home win is worth more than a 4-3 thriller.

Rate their chances out of 10…

8/10. Just look at what they’re doing in the Premier League for evidence as to why this could be their time in Europe. 

Guardiola can add the Champions League know-how to a brilliant group of players and anything less than the semi-finals will be a major disappointment.

Sergio Aguero celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring in their 4-2 win over Napoli

Sergio Aguero celebrates with Raheem Sterling after scoring in their 4-2 win over Napoli

Manchester United

How did they get on in the group stage?

Five wins, one defeat, group winners. That’s job done for Jose Mourinho without being overly-flashy, although a 4-1 at CSKA Moscow was an impressive highlight.

Which of their stars will Europe’s elite be most worried about?

Paul Pogba. Some of his play in the come-from-behind win over CSKA this week was spell-binding. Questions remain over his discipline and understanding of the central-midfield position, but on his day he can dictate and decide any football match.

Paul Pogba has been exceptional in his performances for Manchester United this season

Paul Pogba has been exceptional in his performances for Manchester United this season

Manchester United also won five of their six group matches to make the knockout rounds

Manchester United also won five of their six group matches to make the knockout rounds

What’s their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

Since losing to Barcelona under Sir Alex Ferguson in the final in 2011, they have just one last-16 and one quarter-final appearance to their name. It is a poor return for a club with such a rich European pedigree.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

While Pogba is perhaps United’s best player, he is also a likely target of wily opponents, be that in winding him up or in attempting to expose his defensive shortcomings.

Rate their chances out of 10…

7.5/10. Mourinho is such an asset when it comes to these two-legged ties and, don’t forget, he guided them to victory in the Europa League last season.

Don’t be surprised to see them spoil their way to another final under his pragmatic management.

Romelu Lukaku scored in Manchester United's 4-1 win away to CSKA Moscow in September

Romelu Lukaku scored in Manchester United’s 4-1 win away to CSKA Moscow in September

Tottenham Hotspur

How did they get on in the group stage?

They were, quite simply, brilliant. Very few expected them to progress when they were drawn against Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. 

So to go through as group winners is a mighty achievement and has put down a marker to the rest of Europe, who would have no doubt taken note of those 3-1 victories over Real and Borussia at Wembley.

Which of their stars will Europe’s elite be most worried about?

Harry Kane. He has proved he can score goals against the very best and nothing seems to faze England’s No.1 striker.

Harry Kane's prolific scoring will be key to Tottenham's chances in the Champions League

Harry Kane’s prolific scoring will be key to Tottenham’s chances in the Champions League

Tottenham finished top of a tricky group that contained Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund

Tottenham finished top of a tricky group that contained Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund

What’s their recent pedigree in the Champions League?

One quarter-final in 2011 is their only time beyond the first stage and, for this group of players, this is new territory.

What will be the weaknesses rivals will try and exploit?

It is a difficult one to answer because, in Europe, they have shown none of the weaknesses which exist in the Premier League.

If anything, they raise their game for this continental competition. Inexperience, though, remains the obvious danger – will they have the cunning to negotiate two-legged ties?

Rate their chances out of 10…

7/10. You cannot ignore what they have done in the group stage and perhaps Wembley is the perfect setting to bring the best out of these players on the big European nights.

The likes of Kane, Dele Alli and Christian Eriksen will relish this stage and they’ll be aiming for the last four at least.

Dele Alli jumps for joy after scoring in Tottenham's 3-1 win over Real Madrid at Wembley 

Dele Alli jumps for joy after scoring in Tottenham’s 3-1 win over Real Madrid at Wembley 

 



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