Arsène Wenger

Continental clubs closing the gap

Arsene Wenger

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This season has witnessed a new interrogation of English clubs in the Champions League.

There is no Manchester City left, no Manchester United. There is a 95 per cent risk that Arsenal will disappear, 60 per cent chance of a Chelsea elimination. It would be a big shock for England if the country's clubs leave the competition so soon.

I think that not only is the English standard lower but also the standard of other European countries has improved. They are working well now again in Italy, they work well in Germany, they work well in France. As I said the gap is smaller, and that is the only reason. Manchester United used to rotate their players in the Champions League but as the other clubs got better this year they paid for it.

I think that the average quality of matches in the first leg of the last-16 was mediocre, except the quality of our own match against Milan which was so bad.

Regarding the other games there was little to find delight in. Barcelona have already qualified, Madrid have almost qualified, so that we can say that of the big teams, those we are expecting to qualify will be here.

The question mark remains Bayern - with the final to be held in Munich - as they look to be in a tight situation after losing 1-0 to Basel in the first leg.

I was surprised by Basel, but they managed to defeat Manchester at home. In addition they didn't deserve to be defeated in Manchester. Okay, people said that it was because United didn't consider Basel seriously enough, but afterwards they managed to beat Bayern so that we can affirm now that they are a surprising team, who have a lot of qualities.

Nowadays few teams manage to surprise their opponents because they know each other so well.

I think teams are playing with the handbrake on because you don't want to concede a goal at home - that is so important for the away team. On the other hand, the visiting team is thinking that they have a second leg in which to make the difference at home. So, the most decisive game is often the second one.

We are really going to have a go against Milan; we have to give everything, hoping that on this night everything will click for us, that everything will go well for us.

It is not impossible to erase a 4-0 deficit but we need to take advantage of luck.

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