After seeing his team well and truly played off the park Celtic manager Gordon Strachan honoured United as being the best side his Scottish champions had ever faced in Europe. That is some accolade when you consider that the Bhoys have played AC Milan and Barcelona in recent years. However are United still the best team in Europe and can they be the first team since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990 to successfully defend their crown?
It has to be said that at the half way point in the group stages that Man Utd’s Champions League odds are starting to look very good. After a slow start to their domestic and European seasons United are starting to click into gear. Historically the Red Devils are slow starters and despite a bore draw with Villarreal to start things off no one ever expected anything but maximum points from their next two matches.
Firstly Aalborg were brushed aside before the ‘Battle of Britain’ was made to look like more of a slaughter of Scotland. United were good on Tuesday night but perhaps should have had more than the three they got, especially as Celtic were dreadful. Strachan said after the game that he can’t fault his players for the effort they put in and you can’t, but all the effort in the world isn’t going to bridge the gap of class which was very much like the Grand Canyon.
The former United hero went on to say that he would make sure his side gave United a better game at Celtic Park in a few weeks but frankly I can’t see it being any closer than the game at Old Trafford. However beating two average sides and drawing against a decent one doesn’t scream Champions League winners.
There record so far matches the other three English teams taking part in this seasons competition, two wins and a draw. It is not like Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea have been fortunate to record such results either, all have enjoyed at least one comfortable victory over supposed top European opposition.
Despite the fact that we are only halfway through the group stages I think it would be a safe bet to say that this seasons winner will come from an English club. The only sides that have a realistic chance of stopping them are Real Madrid or Barcelona. So Strachan seemingly backing United to win the Champions League is a smart move as he has a one in four chance of being right.
Whilst Man Utd and Chelsea are the favourites the Champions League betting places Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona ahead of Liverpool and Arsenal. Despite what that is saying I would have said that there is a good chance that all four English teams could make it through to the semi-finals as long as they don’t draw each other in the quarters. The state of European football isn’t what it use to be and the new power house is based in England so don’t expect to see the trophy end up anywhere but either back at Old Trafford or Stamford Bridge, Anfield or the Emirates.