Premier League finishes first half of Champions League group stage unbeaten, so what does it mean?

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The Premier League‘s performance in the Champions League has been a big story in recent years, for all the wrong reasons.

This year that’s turning around.

It’s only halfway through the group stage, but the Premier League’s participants are unbeaten over 15 total matches in the 2017-18 competition, and all sit atop their respective groups.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool have combined to win 11 matches and draw four, collecting 37 of an available 45 points thus far.

There have been signature results, too. Chelsea won 2-1 at Atletico Madrid. Manchester City just ended Napoli’s perfect start on Tuesday. Spurs have beaten Borussia Dortmund and earned a draw at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid.

United is cleaning the clocks of a lesser group as it’s expected too, and while Liverpool has been the only underwhelming Premier League side thus far, the Reds have still drawn Sevilla and hammered Maribor 7-0 for the most decisive win of the competition.

Liverpool is tied atop its group with Spartak Moscow, while Spurs and Real Madrid share the lead atop their group. The other three English sides are all in first place by themselves.

Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have helped the Premier League stay unbeaten through the first half of this year’s Champions League group stage. (The Telegraph)
Jose Mourinho and Manchester United have helped the Premier League stay unbeaten through the first half of this year’s Champions League group stage. (The Telegraph)

Will it continue? Maybe not at this impressive clip, but the fact is it seems these Premier League sides are better equipped than other recent outfits to make deep runs in the knockout stages.

A decade ago, England was the dominant country in the Champions League. An English side made the final every year from 2005 to 2009, and two of them, Liverpool in ’05 and United in ’08, won the title.

Since then, only one English side has lifted the trophy, and that was thanks to a rather miraculous run by Chelsea in 2012, when the Blues beat Bayern Munich in the final in the German giants’ own stadium on penalties. Only two Premier League clubs have reached the semifinals since, and none has made a final.

But now, these English clubs are spending smartly, not just on talent but on leadership. Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful managers in European history, and he’s brought that knowledge and experience to Man City. Jose Mourinho is cut from a similarly successful cloth, and he has United’s reconstruction project seemingly ahead of schedule.

Jurgen Klopp spent years getting the most out of his Dortmund sides, and now he’s doing the same with a talented but incomplete Liverpool team. Antonio Conte coached Juventus in the Champions League for years, and he piloted Chelsea back into the competition quickly.

Only Mauricio Pochettino lacks the résumé of these managers, but he’s proving to be adept at setting up his Spurs sides for success and making the most of Harry Kane’s goal-hoarding prowess.

The Premier League fell into a Champions League funk for a number of reasons, including United’s decline after the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, Arsenal’s steady plunge into mediocrity and Liverpool’s heretofore constant state of flux.

Now, with gobs of star players fitting seamlessly into the structures of these renowned managers, the Premier League clubs are delivering on their promise ahead of schedule. The collective performance will help boost the league’s UEFA coefficient, the measure of overall success in Europe. England’s has risen back to second place this season but still lags well behind La Liga.

The Premier League teams will need to knock off the La Liga giants to change that. If this season’s Champions League campaign is any indication, they’ll get their shot soon enough.

Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

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