Column: Is the Premier League back?

Burnley's Ashley Barnes, left, and Newcastle United's Isaac Hayden battle for the ball during the English Premier League soccer match Burnley versus Newcastle at Turf Moor, Burnley, England, Monday Oct. 30, 2017. (Martin Rickett/PA via AP)

The English Premier League and La Liga are widely considered the two best leagues in the world. Both have their supporters, but recently La Liga has separated itself by dominating European competitions. Meanwhile, English teams have struggled in the UEFA Champions league, with Spanish teams dominating the tournament and winning five of the last seven matches.

Since Chelsea’s win in 2012 over Bayern Munich, no English team has even reached the final.

I am a huge fan of the Premier League, but even I cannot deny La Liga’s recent superiority.

This year, there are five teams from the Premier League in the UCL. In addition to the four that qualified through finishing in the top four in the league, Manchester United’s Europa League championship also earned them a spot in the principal European competition.

With one round left of the group stage, all of the English teams this year are primed to advance to the next phase of the competition.

Tottenham defeated reigning champions Real Madrid this week 3-1 to move atop their group and clinch a spot in the next round. Spurs have yet to lose in continental play this season. Meanwhile, Premier League leaders Manchester City are sitting atop their group and have assured a place in the next round as well.

Liverpool sits atop their group as they are one point ahead of Sevilla. The Reds close out the group stage against Spartak Moscow at Anfield so they hold their future in their hands. Manchester United made a triumphant return to the Champions League after failing to qualify for two seasons. The three-time champions are undefeated thus far in the group stage.

Chelsea are the only English team not leading their group, but with one round left, have all but assured their spot in the next phase.

The Spanish league also boasts the best two players, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, in addition to many of the other most talented players in the world. This has been exemplified by the league's dominance in the yearly FIFAPro XI’s. The FIFAPro XI honors the best 11 players in the world at each position every year.

The last player from the EPL to earn the distinction was Angel Di Maria while he was with Manchester United in 2014. Before the Argentine, Wayne Rooney was the last player to earn the honor back in 2011.

The Premier League teams’ performance in the knockout rounds will determine if the league can challenge La Liga as the best league in the world.

I believe Manchester City have the talent to win the competition, and coach Pep Guardiola has the pedigree to lead his team to glory. Guardiola won two Champions League trophies during his time with Barcelona and was brought to the club specifically to win the UCL. On paper, City have one of deepest squads in the world, which is vital to challenging on both the domestic and continental fronts.


Antonio Salazar is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at antonio.salazar@uconn.edu.