Since the European Cup was renamed the Champions League in 1992/3, English clubs have reach four finals between them – all since 1998/99. Liverpool have reached their second Champions League final, both under Rafael Benitez, which is something that Man Utd under Alex Ferguson have not managed despite many attempts and the purchase of many expensive players. Jose Mourinho won the Champions League with FC Porto, but has not managed to repeat that success with Chelsea despite also spending many millions of pounds on players. Both Man Utd and Chelsea have achieved domestic success, but have yet to convince many with results in Europe. While many ridicule a tournament named the “Champions League” not only because it is essentially a cup competition, but primarily because it contains non-Champions, it is the competition with the big names that most managers at top clubs across Europe want to win.
So how successful have Liverpool been in the Champions League under Rafael Benitez compared to the other big English teams? Jose Mourinho is the self proclaimed ‘special one’ but a comparison of the big four English club’s records in the most recent three seasons (2004/05 – 2006/07) reveals which manager has got it right. The reason for picking the most recent three seasons is that is the length of time both Rafael Benitez and Jose Mourinho have been in charge at their respective clubs. While Chelsea had reached the semi final the season before Jose took over, Liverpool had not even been in the 2003/04 competition i. This makes Rafael Benitez’s success at the first attempt even more remarkable as the team had little previous form in the competition to speak of and he was effectively working with his predecessor’s team.
Top English Clubs in the Champions League 2004/05 – 2006/07
1. Liverpool P43 W25 D9 L9 F61 A27. (Won 58.14%)
2. Man Utd P30 W16 D5 L9 F56 A24. (Won 53.33%)
3. Arsenal P31 W16 D11 L4 F41 A19. (Won 51.61%)
4. Chelsea P32 W16 D8 L8 F47 A26. (Won 50.00%)
Liverpool’s record contains two extra rounds of qualifiers from 2005/06 when their league position wasn’t enough to gain automatic entry into the competition despite being Champions. Even if you discount these, the record is still the best – P39 W21 D9 L9 F50 A26 (Won 53.85%). On top of that Liverpool have now reached two finals in three seasons, Arsenal were runners-up in 2005/06 but neither of the other two teams have progressed beyond the semi finals in that time.
1. Liverpool - finalists
2. Chelsea - semi finalists
3. Man Utd - semi finalists
4. Arsenal – Last sixteen
1. Arsenal – Runners-Up
2. Chelsea – Last sixteen
3. Liverpool – Last sixteen
4. Man Utd – Group Stage/Last 32
1. Liverpool - Champions
2. Chelsea – semi finalists
3. Arsenal– Last sixteen
4. Man Utd– Last sixteen
England boasted three of the four semi finalists in 2006/07, but in 1999/00 Spain boasted the Champions (Real Madrid), Runners-up (Valencia) and a beaten semi-finalist Barcelona). Spain leads the Champions League table of results :-
Champions League table by country (1992/93 – 2005/06)
1. Spain Won 4, Runners-Up 3, Semi Finalists 6
2. Italy Won 3, Runners-Up 6, Semi Finalists 3
3. Germany Won 2, Runners-Up 2, Semi Finalists 3
4. England Won 2, Runners-Up 1, Semi Finalists 5
Alex Ferguson at Man Utd and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal both have struggled to dominate in Europe, Man Utd have generally progressed further but not managed to translate their domestic dominance across into their European campaign. Despite numerous attempts Alex Ferguson has reached only one final, which they needed two late goals to win. Arsene took Arsenal to their first ever final only last season and they lost, that was only the second time he has taken Arsenal further in the competition than his bitter rival at Man Utd.
Home & Away
One interesting statistic to note was the form of the big four English clubs at home compared with away.
1. Man Utd P69 W50 D13 L6 F174 A58 (Won 72.46%)
2. Liverpool P32 W20 D6 L6 F49 A18 (Won 62.50%)
3. Chelsea P31 W19 D9 L3 F50 A19 (Won 61.29%)
4. Arsenal P46 W25 D12 L7 F71 A39 (Won 56.82%)
1. Liverpool P32 W14 D11 L7 F44 A26 (Won 43.75%)
2. Chelsea P31 W13 D7 L11 F43 A31 (Won 41.94%)
3. Arsenal P46 W16 D14 L16 F53 A50 (Won 34.78%)
4. Man Utd P69 W22 D21 L26 F82 A71 (Won 31.88%)
The stark contrast between Man Utd’s home and away form is amazing. What is also interesting is their record in the latter stages of the Champions League compared to the last sixteen/group stages and before.
Top English Clubs in the Champions League (QF onwards)
1. Liverpool P11 W6 D3 L2 F14 A9 (Won 54.54%)
2. Man Utd P25 W9 D8 L8 F44 A30 (Won 36.00%)
3. Chelsea P14 W5 D4 L5 F20 A22 (Won 35.71%)
4. Arsenal P9 W3 D3 L3 F8 A7 (Won 33.33%)
Considering the long and much boasted “seven consecutive quarter finals” that record of Man Utd’s is pretty ordinary. Arsenal simply haven’t got that far often enough and they, Chelsea and Man Utd won’t reach too many finals and win too many Champions Leagues with a record of roughly one win in three.
Top English Clubs in the Champions League (Pre-QF)
1. Chelsea P48 W27 D12 L9 F73 A28 (Won 56.25%)
2. Man Utd P114 W64 D26 L24 F214 A100 (Won 56.14%)
3. Liverpool P54 W28 D15 L11 F82 A38 (Won 51.85%)
4. Arsenal P82 W38 D23 L21 F117 A84 (Won 46.34%)
This just goes to show that English clubs like the low pressure league format but not so much the knockout rounds where you have to be the best side over two legs. Some of those games will be in the last sixteen of the re-formatted knockout phase, even then the opposition quality is not necessarily the best – even Scottish, Norwegian, Greek and Turkish sides get as far as the last sixteen and sometimes even the quarter finals, but most seasons struggle to get beyond the group stage.
The group stages are a complete waste of time, teams can afford to lose two and sometimes three games and still progress. The old European Cup is often criticised for having Champions of weaker countries, well frankly neither the old European Cup nor the current Champions League become a competition in earnest until the quarter finals and the records speak for themselves. Some like to knock the European Cup because of the unfamiliar names of teams not thinking on that you had to be Champions of your country therefore the sides they hold in such high regard nowadays would have been below them in their domestic leagues back then. Most people know 25 years ago Liverpool dominated English football and Man Utd were also-rans but times change, yet too many struggle to realise that the same is true of any league. What is a big name now could as easily have been an also-ran 25 years ago, all teams go through peaks and troughs.
Perhaps the most interesting analysis is how the top English clubs fare against teams from other countries in the Champions League. There have been a few all English matches over the years and Liverpool lead that particular table with all six of those clashes coming against Chelsea, all in the most recent three seasons with two in each.
Top English Clubs head to heads
1. Liverpool P6 W2 D3 L1 F2 A1 (Won 33.33%)
2. Chelsea P8 W2 D4 L2 F4 A4 (Won 25.00%)
3. Arsenal P2 W0 D1 L1 F2 A3 (Won 00.00%)
Man Utd have not faced English clubs in the Champions League, they have been rather lucky over the years with the draw and have a rather good record against Scottish clubs winning 3 of their 4 meetings with the old firm. The most frequently faced countries by the top English clubs in the Champions League are unsurprisingly Spain (59), Germany (41), Italy (41, soon to be 42), France (32) and Portugal and Holland (20 each). The records of each top English club against each country are as below.
1. Chelsea P12 W5 D3 L4 F21 A18 (Won 41.67%)
2. Arsenal P17 W6 D4 L7 F17 A19 (Won 35.29%)
3. Liverpool P10 W3 D3 L4 F6 A9 (Won 30.00%)
4. Man Utd P20 W5 D9 L6 F29 A31 (Won 25.00%)
1. Liverpool P6 W4 D1 L1 F11 A6 (Won 66.67%)
2. Arsenal P12 W6 D2 L4 F21 A17 (Won 50.00%)
3. Chelsea P8 W4 D1 L3 F12 A8 (Won 50.00%)
4. Man Utd P15 W4 D6 L5 F17 A16 (Won 26.67%)
1. Man Utd P18 W8 D2 L8 F35 A17 (Won 44.44%)
2. Arsenal P12 W5 D4 L3 F17 A10 (Won 41.67%)
3. Liverpool P5 W2 D3 L0 F11 A6 (Won 40.00%)
4. Chelsea P6 W2 D3 L1 F8 A4 (Won 33.33%)
1. Liverpool P4 W3 D0 L1 F6 A1 (Won 75.00%)
2. Man Utd P16 W8 D6 L2 F21 A11 (Won 50.00%)
3. Chelsea P6 W2 D2 L2 F7 A6 (Won 33.33%)
4. Arsenal P6 W2 D2 L2 F5 A5 (Won 33.33%)
1. Chelsea P2 W2 D0 L0 F6 A2 (Won 100.00%)
2. Liverpool P4 W3 D1 L0 F6 A0 (Won 75.00%)
3. Man Utd P4 W3 D0 L1 F9 A6 (Won 75.00%)
4. Arsenal P10 W3 D6 L1 F10 A5 (Won 30.00%)
1. Man Utd P10 W6 D2 L2 F19 A7 (Won 60.00%)
2. Chelsea P4 W2 D1 L1 F7 A5 (Won 50.00%)
3. Arsenal P2 W1 D1 L0 F2 A0 (Won 50.00%)
4. Liverpool P4 W0 D2 L2 F2 A5 (Won 00.00%)
Note Liverpool have yet to lose to an Italian club in the Champions League, whether this record continues will be discovered in the final in Athens. These six countries (and England of course) are the only countries to boast finalists, the records of the top English clubs against the rest are :-
vs The rest
1. Chelsea P16 W13 D2 L1 F28 A3 (Won 81.25%)
2. Man Utd P56 W39 D9 L8 F128 A42 (Won 69.64%)
3. Liverpool P26 W17 D5 L4 F56 A21 (Won 65.38%)
4. Arsenal P30 W18 D6 L6 F51 A32 (Won 60.00%)
‘The rest’does include some tricky opposition including nasty trips to Greece, Turkey, Russia and Ukraine – and ridiculously Israel, the non-European country. Despite some embarrassing UEFA Cup losses in the not so distant past, including Viking Stavanger of Norway, St Gallen of Switzerland and Hapoel Tel Aviv of Israel, Chelsea have a fantastic record against the weaker countries. The one defeat was at home to Turkish side Besiktas, the only side of the four not to lose to a Turkish team in the Champions League is Arsenal and that might have something to do with them never having played Turkish opposition!
What about the other English clubs to have ventured into the Champions League? Well most have little to write home about as the places are normally filled by the big four, although Leeds Utd did reach a semi final and that dizzy height was the beginning of the downward slide they are currently experiencing as they seem destined for the third tier of English league football.
Other English Clubs in the Champions League
Newcastle Utd P20 W9 D2 L9 F28 A29 (Won 45.00%) – best finish of the last sixteen
Leeds Utd P20 W8 D5 L7 F29 A26 (Won 40.00%) – best finish of semi finals
Blackburn P6 W1 D1 L4 F5 A7(Won 16.67%) – best finish of last sixteen/group stage
Everton P2 W0 D0 L2 F2 A4 (Won 0.00%) – best finish of qualifying stage
Copyright - Alex for LFChistory.net