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English teams somehow survive Champions League group stages

Thursday 13th December 2018

This time last year, English football fans were amazed. Their five Champions League teams all qualified for the knockout rounds. Four won their groups. Unprecedented stuff that. Liverpool reached the final in Kyiv. All we could do was shake our heads and ask, "How did they manage it?"

Before Liverpool received a lesson in gamesmanship from Real Madrid, the other Spanish capital club won the Europa League. Atletico's triumph meant there wouldn't be five Premier League sides in the continent's top competition this term. Just four would be on hand to continue the English renaissance.

About that...

Only Manchester City claimed their group. I would say bossed but yeah, no. Elsewhere, Liverpool needed a result in their final match. Tottenham needed a result, too, and help from PSV Eindhoven. Both squads got what they needed. Manchester United, already through, wasted a golden opportunity to win their group and draw a weaker opponent in the Round of 16. All four went through in an underwhelming fashion that beggared belief. All we could do was shake our heads and ask, "How did they manage it?"

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Martin Palazzotto

The former editor of World Football Columns, Martin contributes frequently to Stretty News and is the author of the short story collection strange bOUnce. He has appeared in several other blogs which, sadly, have ceased to exist. He is old and likes to bring out defunct. Although football is his primary passion, the geezer enjoys many sports and pop culture forms. Expect them to intrude upon his meanderings for It's Round and It's White.

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