In Review

English teams struggle in Europe: Is Premier League a spent force?

Manchester City, Chelsea and Arsenal all had tough nights in the Champions League this week

English teams in Europe suffered another setback in the Champions League on Wednesday as Manchester City were beaten in Munich by a late strike from Jerome Boateng and Chelsea were held 1-1 at home to Schalke. Coming just 24 hours after Arsenal’s mauling in Dortmund and Liverpool’s nervous win over Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets the results are further proof that the Premier League is no longer the force it once was.

City were outclassed by Bayern Munich for long periods of their encounter in the Allianz Arena with the 2013 champions registering 22 shots on goal compared to the Sky Blues’s eight. While the visitors were perhaps unlucky not to be given a penalty after David Silva was brought down by Mehdi Benatia, few of the City faithful could argue that Bayern didn’t deserve their victory.

Boateng, a former City defender, struck on 90 minutes when his shot took a deflection off teammate Mario Gotze and beat Joe Hart. It was tough luck on the City keeper. Hart had kept his side in the tie with a string of fine saves and he acknowledged later that it had been a chastening experience. “We fought hard all night against a good team,” he said. “You know what you get when you come here. We looked like we were going to get a result, but it was a nasty deflection.”

City’s next Champions League opponents are Roma, who visit the Etihad stadium in a fortnight having thrashed CSKA Moscow 5-1 in the Italian capital. It’s a match City cannot afford to lose if they’re to make it out of the group stage.  “We have some very tough games now and we have to play well against CSKA Moscow and Roma, but we’re confident we can win the rest of our games,” said Hart.

City have only a few days to lick their wounds before they host Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, and Hart says that’s an ideal opportunity for the players to put Wednesday’s disappointment behind them. “We like to think of ourselves as big-game players, so we need to step up again on Sunday,” said Hart. “It’s a big week for us. We need to win – it’s a close Premier League, they [Chelsea] are a rival and we need to beat them.”

Chelsea will also go into Sunday’s game a little deflated after failing to take three points from their Champions League opener. Cesc Fabregas had given the Blues the lead on 11 minutes, sweeping in a pass from Eden Hazard, but Klaas-Jan Huntelaar levelled for Schalke on 62 minutes. Jose Mourinho then brought on new signings Diego Costa and Loic Remy in search of the winning goal but despite Remy having a shot cleared off the line, the Germans hung on for a precious point. "After the 1-1 we had a fantastic reaction and chances to win the game, but that’s football, that’s Champions League, that’s normal," said Mourinho. "Congratulations to Schalke because they got their objective. There is a little bit of frustration for us, because we did everything to win and we could not."

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