Sweet FA 2016-17 Podcast Six: English Teams in the Champions League

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 13: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after scoring to make it 1-1 with Hector Bellerin of Arsenal during the UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal at Parc des Princes on September 13, 2016 in Paris, . (Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images)
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Welcome to the sixth Sweet FA podcast of the 2016-17 season. Europe’s premier competition returned this week, with good results for Arsenal, Leicester and Manchester City but a disappointing defeat at home to Monaco for Tottenham. Regular panellists Rob Mitchell and Hugo Jennings take a look at all things to do with English teams in the Champions League; particularly how well they will be able to compete with the “superclubs” such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

First up, the two look at champions Leicester City. The Foxes have been given a relatively easy group and should make it to the knockout rounds. However, should they come across more difficult teams, would they be able to pull off an unlikely victory? How should they approach games against teams with better squads than theirs?

Next up, Arsenal. Hugo, speaking from France after watching the Gunners’ impressive draw with Paris Saint-Germain, laments the team’s recent performances in Europe, as well as examining the consistently poor approach to the away goals rule. The two discuss whether Arsène Wenger‘s men should build on the performance against the French champions and continue to approach games against strong opposition in the same way.

The podcast was recorded before Tottenham’s 2-1 loss at home to Monaco, but the podcast still looks at whether playing at Wembley will be a hindrance or not for Spurs. Furthermore, will playing in the Champions League have any effect on the team’s domestic form and should they struggle in the Premier League, is this a respectable excuse?

Manchester City will face Barcelona in the group stage, but are they capable of outplaying the Spanish champions? Will Pep Guardiola need to set up more defensively to get one over his former team? Rob and Hugo look at whether the Citizens will have to wait until next season before mounting a serious challenge for Europe’s biggest prize.

Finally, the podcast looks forward to next season and whether Chelsea and Manchester United, should they qualify, will be able to compete with the superclubs and whether a year outside of the tournament could end up helping them. Could English teams in the Champions League start to dominate again like they did in the 2000s?

Robert Mitchell covers a range of sports for Lastwordonsports.com, including the NFL, Rugby, Formula 1 and the Premier League. Author of the Co$t of Winning column focused on the business of sport, he is also the host of Last Word Radio’s Rugby show Absolute Flanker and an analyst on Sweet FA.

Hugo runs lastwordonfootball.com. A regular on Sweet FA and occasional panellist on Treble Radio, he mostly writes about Arsenal, Spanish football and cricket. He is a season-ticket holder at Arsenal.

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