Since the previous epochs of Spanish and German dominance, there has been an unmistakable decline concerning the impact of English clubs in European competitions. Gone are the days when there would be three out of four English sides in the Champions League semi-finals and an all-English final. As we all know, however, football works in cycles and the Premier League certainly has the financial clout to bring those days back. Whilst Chelsea did win the competition two seasons ago, there are few that would argue the Blues were even close to being the best team in Europe that particular season.
There are still four Premier League sides in this year's Champions League knockout stages, although not many will expect Arsenal to get past Bayern Munich after losing 2-0 in the first leg, whilst Manchester United are simply not good enough this year, even at home. Chelsea and Manchester City are the Premier League's best chance in this year's cup, but City have a mountain to climb to get past Barcelona and have two less-than-satisfactory Champions League adventures behind them.
Even so, if either City or Chelsea were to come up against Real Madrid or all-conquering Bayern Munich, then they would not be favourites to win. Anything can happen in football and anybody can win the Champions League, but the days when English clubs were among the distant favourites to win the competition from the outset are gone. But for how long?
This season, there seems to be a resurgence in the strength of the Premier League and it is not only limited to one or two teams like it is in Europe's other top leagues. In Germany, only Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund can realistically challenge for European supremacy. In France, only PSG and possibly Monaco, if they spend more. In Italy there is only Juventus and in Spain there is something of a revelation with a third team entering the fray in the form of Atletico Madrid. All of the above teams are almost guaranteed Champions League football next season.
In England, however, it is a different story and many Premier League sides are finally finding their rhythm. Barring any major changes between now and the beginning of next season, the four teams that eventually make the Champions League are currently strong and will only get better. The fact that there is such a debate over the four sides who will eventually make Europe's most esteemed competition goes some way to displaying the current strength in depth that the Premier League has. Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester City, Liverpool, Everton and Tottenham are all in with a shout of making the cut. Manchester United are the only one of the front-running Premier League teams to have visibly weakened since last year and are all but out of the running.
Assuming this season's top four keep their current players and strengthen wisely in the summer, then the Premier League will have an extremely strong set of teams to enter into the Champions League next season. Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal are all potential winners of the competition, while the fourth placed side will more than likely be able to boast a better side than Chelsea won the cup with two seasons ago. Each of this year's dominant Premier League sides, with the addition of one or two other world-class performing players, is surely a worrying prospect for any of the continental giants.
After a few seasons of English Champions League stagnation, we are yet to see how this season's crop of teams shall fair, next season should be a year in which the Premier League can once again lay claim to being one of the top European powers. Of course, the likes of Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Barcelona, PSG and many others will also strengthen themselves over the summer, but when an English side faces up to another of the European giants next season, there will be less of a sense of dread and possibly even a hint of optimism.
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