There was a lengthy lean spell. But it looks like England’s Champions League wilderness years are well and truly over.
Having all four entrants making it through to the quarter-finals is brilliant for the Premier League.
And I reckon they’ll definitely have two in the semis.
Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur face each other in a tie neither of them will be relishing.
I’ve already heard some people are saying it will be a cakewalk for City. But I wouldn’t discount Spurs.
Mauricio Pochettino will have his players fired up to the max to dump Pep Guardiola’s megastars on their backsides.
We’ve seen it before when English teams have met in Europe – the underdog does the business.
And if Spurs are in their new stadium when the tie comes around, that could give them a wee edge.
It’s by no means a foregone conclusion.
Liverpool’s clash with Porto, on the other hand, looks like it ought to be one.
What a draw that is for the Reds, against the team everybody must have wanted to be paired with.
Yes, the Portuguese champions have achieved great things in the past.
They broke Celtic’s hearts in Seville to win the UEFA Cup in 2003, then claimed the Champions League the following year.
Jose Mourinho was the man at the helm back then.
But when I look at Porto today, I don’t see a side that should pose Liverpool too many problems.
So, all going well, there’s two English sides through.
Will it be three?
I tend to think that’s a lot to ask, given that Manchester United will have to dump Barcelona to make it happen.
United have been terrific under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, both domestically and in the Champions League.
What they did to Paris Saint-Germain in the last round – and on their own patch, too – was frightening.
But Barca are a different prospect.
After decades at the top in Europe, they are still smashing all-comers aside.
Lionel Messi is still flying and Luis Suarez is banging them in, too.
Then there’s Phillipe Coutinho, Ivan Rakitic, Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba, Gerard Pique . . . the list goes on.
As good as United have been, I think Barcelona will be too strong for them over two legs.
But even if they do go out in the quarters, simply having been there – with three other Premier League teams – is a sign of real progress.
It’s the first time in 10 years that four teams from the same country have made it so far.
And it’s not just the Champions League teams that are impressing. Chelsea and Arsenal are both safety through to the last-eight of the Europa League – and I reckon it could end up being an all-English final.
The rules make it possible because teams from the same country can’t meet until the final in that competition.
Chelsea should breeze past Slavia Prague to make it to the semis.
Arsenal will have a much tougher task against Napoli.
But on their day, they are capable of beating the best, so it’s in their hands.
A few years ago, I was concerned that English clubs’ best days in Europe were behind them as the Germans, the Spanish and the Italians came to the fore.
But the Premier League has bitten back – and I’m backing its teams to keep taking chunks out of continental competitors.
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