English clubs have finally figured out how to handle the Champions League, so it seems.
Liverpool’s 7-0 stroll against Spartak Moscow means five Premier League clubs will be in the draw on Monday as west Switzerland become the centre of Europe for the day.
All English club have won their group but for Chelsea – and for them it’s all suddenly rather tricky.
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Things have suddenly got a little challenging after they blew their chance of winning group C on Tuesday night. The loss of concentration from Tiemoue Bakayoko, a split-second switch off, stopped the Blues winning the group.
In the Champions League, especially this season, not topping the table could prove to be fatal.
Rules state no club from the same country can meet in the round of 16. They also can’t take on a side they met in the group stages. And group winners cannot meet group winners. With all five English clubs – a record for anyone – looking like sailing through, that poses a problem in west London in particular.
Chelsea had a two in three chance of getting a disaster of a draw. So here’s who our clubs could face when the draw in made in
Besiktas, PSG or Barcelona.
Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Real Madrid, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk
Bayern Munich, Juventus, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk
Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk
Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus, Basel, Porto, Sevilla
Time for change?
The fact it seems five English clubs will be in the round of 16 throws up the debate about it being a closed draw at this stage.
While it’s understandable to keep seeds apart, preventing clubs who happen to play in the same league serves little purpose. The clubs would probably prefer it that way, but it’s missing the point.
UEFA need to consider the future as the English clubs are only likely to get stronger as the years go by. The fans would back the lifting on non same-nation draws and so would the neutral.
As the FA Cup third round draw shows, there’s nothing but excitement about derby games in the early stages of any competition.