Bayern Call Time on England’s European Lock-In
It’s over – or at least it’s on temporary leave.
United’s defeat at the hands of Bayern means that English football’s purple patch at the business end of the Champions League season is over.
For the first time in seven years there will not be an English representative in the semi-final and even more amazingly this is the first time in three years that England hasn’t had three teams in the last four.
England’s recent reign over Europe is unheard of in my lifetime and brings to mind grainy photographs of Liverpool, Villa and Forest’s success in the 70s and 80s.
This isn’t a sad and reflective obituary for English footballs foray into European success though, far from it, as I see no reason (excluding Barcelona’s brilliance) why the success cannot continue.
Football has rapidly evolved in Blighty, pushed forward by the pressures and strains of the Premier League, which temporarily furthered the standard of football beyond that of other European leagues.
For example, since 2004 an English team has popped up at the semi-final stage 13 times, compared with Spain’s five appearances and Italy’s three.
The success of Bayern this year will be greeted with added delight by most German fans, as they haven’t seen a native side in the last four of Big Cup since Bayer Leverkusen were beaten in the 2002 final.
This isn’t to say though that English football is far superior to that of other leagues, as quite simply it’s not, as at times it lacks the technical ability and patience of La Liga and Serie A. Plus the Premier League’s representatives in the kock-out stages were seen off by Spanish, German and Italian sides, so mainland Europe must be doing something right.
However a great desire and energy, coupled with a hunger to get past the sticky quarter-final stage that has so often halted English football has nudged it towards success.
Other European teams are certainly aware of the accomplishmet of United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in recent years and have adapted their game to try and stifle the English threat.
This season it’s worked. Inter’s determination to get men behind the ball, coupled with great attacking creativity saw off Chelsea and the dogged determination of Bayern, exemplified by striker Olic, has helped them see off the finalists from the past two seasons.
A willingness to attack was also rewarded with four goals across the two legs, the last of which from Arjen Robben deserves to win any tie.
The lack of a representative in the semis will be an unaccustomed scenario for many English fans, but with Barcelona v Inter still to come, there is still plenty to relish.Tags: Champions League, Manchester United
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