Following Manchester City’s Champions League elimination at the hands of Barcelona, which completed English clubs’ mass exodus from the competition, back page column inches have been swamped with crisis talk.
The Citizens’ 3-1 aggregate reverse against the 11/4 joint-second favourites to hoist Ol’ Big Ears means they’ve joined Arsenal and Chelsea in the delegation of teams bounced in the last-16 stage, but is the deluge of derision their ejection has sparked deserved?
A solitary Bundesliga representative remains in the hunt for continental glory, while Serie A also only boasts one side in the quarter finals.
The picture could’ve been much bleaker for the Spanish contingent too were it not for Atletico Madrid’s penalty shootout good fortune against Bayer Leverkusen and Real Madrid’s near-miss versus a spirited Schalke side.
Such statistics indicate the state of the English game isn’t as catastrophic as is being portrayed, with each of the ousted triptych equipped with sufficient mitigation explaining their dismissals.
Luck of the draw correlates directly with success in such competitions and it’s fair to say Man City didn’t have a modicum of it pulling Barca out of the hat for the second consecutive campaign.
Undoubtedly the finest practitioners on the planet with regards to current form, it’s easy to envisage any adversary losing to the white-hot Catalan club over two legs.
City only did so by two goals, having had to play a good chunk of the first-leg with ten men.
Few would’ve expected them to finish above 12/5 tournament favourites Bayern in the group stage, while they knocked Roma – the second best team Italy have to offer – out in order to book a last-16 spot.
A commendable effort all things considered, which brings us on to Chelsea.
Their second-leg showing against Paris Saint-Germain was sub par, but the fact is they lost on away goals to one of the most lavishly furnished teams knocking about any top league.
Regardless of what league they hail from, a team brimming with talent such as Les Parisiens has to be ranked alongside the continent’s absolute elite, capable of toppling any opponent across Europe.
This probably isn’t true of Monaco, but Arsenal’s conquerors have been universally underappreciated since the Champions League began.
Their iron-clad rearguard couldn’t be rivalled heading into the knockout stage, yet they conceded three times against the Gunners.
In doing so, Arsene Wenger’s troops quadrupled Les Rouges et Blancs’ goals-shipped tally for the tournament so far.
Monaco also have previous when it comes to upsetting English adversaries in this competition, overthrowing much-fancied Chelsea 5-3 on aggregate in the 2004 semi-final.
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