English teams should focus on winning Champions League groups

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If any of the English teams harbour serious hopes of reaching the final of the Champions League then recent history suggests that topping their group is almost imperative.

Only four times in the last ten seasons has a team finished second in their group and then made the final, including both Inter Milan and Bayern Munich last season.

Arsenal and Manchester United have played in the Champions League during all of the last ten seasons and have both performed strongly in the opening group stages.

Arsene Wenger’s team have finished at the head of their group on seven occasions and are 14/1 to win the Champions League for the first time.

Meanwhile, Manchester United have topped their group on six occasions and can be backed at 6/1.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s team may also be favoured by being drawn in Group C, which has provided six finalists in the last ten years, including three winners.

Chelsea, who have been supported into 11/2 to win the Champions League from 6/1, are in the other strong historical group, with Group F providing five finalists.

On the negative side for Chelsea, the same group has never provided back-to-back winners in the last decade and Inter won the tournament from Group F last season.

The omens are not great for 3/1 favourites Barcelona as Group D has not had a team in the final in the timeframe and their previous two victories have both arrived after being drawn into Group C.

AC Milan are back in Group G, from where they won the tournament in 2003 and are 18/1 to lift the trophy, despite being in potentially the toughest group with Real Madrid, Ajax and Auxerre. See the whole Champions League winners market.

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