September 17, 2009

Is the Premiership still premier?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

After watching as much Champions League football as I could the past two days, it’s been quite easy to see that there may be something up at the top of the football world. Have the teams of the English Premier League fallen off a bit? Glancing at their rosters, they have lost one or two good names over the summer, but largely they’re still the same. But, judging by the results of the first two days of Group Stage play, it’s staggering that all four of the best EPL teams from last year couldn’t do better than one-goal victories over inferior opponents.

You could blame playing in Turkey – always tough because of their fans –but Manchester United is surely better than the 1-0 victory over Besiktas they walked away with.

Chelsea, perhaps the most star-studded of the lot of EPL teams, could only net one in a victory over somewhat tricky FC Porto. But with the game at Stamford Bridge, that total was expected to be higher.

Liverpool could only manage a 1-0 win over Debrecen, the Hungarian champions who made their Group Stage debut.

Then there was Arsenal, who actually fell two down before making a stunning rally to beat Standard Liege of Belgium 3-2.

Are these really the results we should be getting from the top teams of the league in the world? Shouldn’t these results have looked more like Real Madrid’s 5-2 trouncing of FC Zurich, AC Milan downing Marseille or Bayern Munich dominating Israel’s Maccabi Haifa 3-0?

It may just be one slice of the Champions League schedule, but I find it wholly possible that the English could be facing a very international semifinal group a few months from now. Unless somebody steps up on each of the Big Four teams, there’s no way we’ll be seeing a repeat of last year’s three EPL team semis.

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