Commentary

English clubs near-perfect in Champions League

The true test for English clubs will come in February when the knockout stage begins and after a long winter marked by the annual holiday rush -- four EPL games in 10 days this season! -- but for now things are looking good in the UEFA Champions League.

Seven clubs are unbeaten and untied after two games, and four of them are English. Of the five EPL entrants, only Liverpool isn't perfect.

UCL: Perfect after two games
TEAM (+/-)
Paris SG (8-0)
Chelsea (8-1)
Man. United (7-1)
Man. City (6-0)
Real Madrid (6-1)
Tottenham (6-1)
Besiktas (5-1)

Wednesday brought a couple of particularly good results. Manchester United had won just one of its previous 10 away games in the Champions League but clobbered CSKA Moscow, 4-1.

United manager Jose Mourinho has traveled to Russia before with Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid, and he said Wednesday's performance was the strongest by any of his team.

“I came here and faced very good teams," he said, "but I think this was the strongest performance. Today we were really strong and it was my strongest performance here.”

A big reason for United's success has been the play of first-year Belgian Romelu Lukaku, who scored twice to give him 10 goals in nine games this season. But the best player for United was Frenchman Anthony Martial, who scored once and was involved in the other three goals.

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Another Belgian, Michy Batshuayi, was the hero for Chelsea, scoring on the last kick of the game for the Blues in their 2-1 win at Atletico Madrid.

Batshuayi, who will on Monday turn 24, the same age as Lukaku, isn't the proven talent like his countryman, picked up by United from Everton over the summer. Batshuayi played 20 games in his first season after his transfer from Marseille but only started one game. He is still a part-time player this season in the EPL, but he now has goals in both UCL games.

“Michy is a young player,” Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said. “Last season he struggled a lot to understand the league. He is improving, and his commitment is very good. He has a lot of room for improvement. He has to continue this way."

The hottest Englishman in the Champions League is Tottenham's Harry Kane. He scored twice in Spurs' opening game, a 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley, and followed that up with a perfect hat trick -- one goal with his right, one with his left, one with his head -- in Tottenham's 3-0 win at Apoel Nicosia.

Spurs manager Mauricio Pochettino went so far as to say he was in love with Kane, who has scored nine goals in eight games this season for Tottenham.

"Now my wife is so jealous," Pochettino said, "and his wife, too. No, I think it's unbelievable. You know, it's Harry Kane. He has unbelievable skills in front of goal. He has something special. That is why he is one of the best. All the strikers that have this type of level they have something special in front of goals. They are killers. Harry has this special skill.''

Manchester City also remained perfect with a 2-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk, though it could and probably should have been more. Sergio Aguero had a penalty saved, thwarting his bid to become City's all-time leading scorer. Tied for first in the EPL with United, City went into the game having scored 22 in its previous five games.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham also happen to be the top four teams in the EPL, with combined records of 25 wins, five ties and only two losses between them in the EPL and Champions League.

EPL and UCL combined:
W-T-L TEAM
7-1-0 Man. City
7-1-0 Man. United
6-1-1 Chelsea
5-2-1 Tottenham

Liverpool, fifth behind Spurs on goal difference in EPL, is the only team that has struggled in the Champions League, tying Spartak Moscow, 1-1, on Tuesday for its second straight draw. It would be a shock, though, if the Reds didn't advance out of their group that also includes Sevilla, the group leader, and Maribor of Slovenia.

3 comments about "English clubs near-perfect in Champions League".
  1. Gus Keri, September 28, 2017 at 4:23 a.m.

    Make that 8. Barcelona has two wins also with 4-0 goals.

  2. john celeste, September 28, 2017 at 5:40 a.m.

    Make that 8. Barcelona has two wins also with 4-0 goals.

  3. ROBERT BOND, September 28, 2017 at 9:34 a.m.

    money talks, & FFP dies........the Bayern system implodes, could not even afford a back up GK

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