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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Friday, March 24, 2023
Jonah Beleckis

Column: Media unfairly crashes down on English teams after European struggles

The Champions League returned only to affirm what members of the media were expecting: English teams are not among Europe's elite.

That is the quick assumption to make considering all four of England's representatives failed to secure a win.

Looking closer at the context of each game shows a different picture.

When the four English teams received their draws, skeptics were looking forward to see top English teams play proven-European competition.

Manchester City and Arsenal both had eerily similar 2-0 results to Barcelona and Bayern Munich respectively. Both English sides also played significant portions of their games down a man thanks to red cards to Martín Demichelis and Wojciech Szcz?sny.

Then, the criticism rained down like no other. However, much of this criticism came because it was the easy answer to give.

The 2-0 scorelines are deceptive, considering the second goals both came in the final minutes of the games.

Manchester City tested Barcelona's Víctor Valdés, despite playing with 10 men against the possession kings. Edin Džeko was called for a foul -- that could have understandably not been called -- after his shot was saved by Valdés' foot. David Silva's impressive first touch and volley also forced the Catalan keeper to the ground bumping every fan's heart rate.

Injuries certainly played their role in Manchester City's disappointing home loss. Sergio Agüero --Manchester City's most prolific striker -- missed the action completely.

Samir Nasri and Fernandinho, who have both excelled beyond expectations this season, played their first significant minutes after long injury spells in City's biggest game in years.

Nasri proved to be very strong on the ball and gave an immense spark to the team who struggled mightily in the first few minutes after Demichelis' red card. Nasri's effort and determination appeared to give the home crowd something to root for and the blue side of Manchester declared they would not lie down without a fight.

The second leg comes in March, and after correcting their road troubles and getting their No. 1 squad, I do not expect the doom and gloom forecasted by much of the English media.

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Arsenal and Bayern Munich played in a quirky game with two missed penalties and a questionable red card. Two Bayern Munich players said after the game that they believed the red card was a harsh penalty for Szcz?sny, who will now miss the second leg in Germany.

Arsenal, like Manchester City, had their chances and did not finish them. In a game where goals are quite literally the difference between a win and loss, I am not ignoring that games cannot be won on good chances.

However, Arsenal were not as outplayed -- more so when they were at even strength -- as the media made them out to be.

Chelsea played their defensive style in their road game, which if anyone can remember their title run in 2012, this should come as no surprise. It appears as if José Mourinho is tactically setting his team up to win at Stamford Bridge -- where he has never lost.

Manchester United -- as much as I am enjoying their abysmal season -- does still stand a chance against Olympiakos, despite the team becoming the first team from Greece to beat the Red Devils. When Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie and Juan Mata take the field at home, a 2-0 deficit is not impossible to overcome.

The English Premier League may not boast the best teams at the top, but it is the most marketable league in the world. The media creating a catastrophe after England's most popular teams lose is to be expected.

Just remember, in these knockout rounds of the Champions League, the second leg can cause some stirs.

Who do you think will move on into the next round of the Champions League? Which, if any of the English sides can come back against their opposition? Email Jonah at your thoughts.

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