The Round of 16 of the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League saw the sudden and surprising demise of all three remaining English Premier League clubs.
EPL is supposed to be one of the best leagues in the world, right? UEFAs association raking (a list measuring a countrys club performance in the European level) currently says it is number two after the Spanish top level. Any country in the top three of this ranking earns four berths in the current Champions League season, which means at least one of them is expected to reach at least the quarter-finals. Anyway, that is why it is such a surprise that no club from the wealthiest league in the world will be amongst the top eight teams of Europe this year.
In recent history it has occured before only once, during the 2012/2013 season. The fact that this disgrace is happening again in such a short time should raise the attention of those who have to power to change things.
But lets recap what happened. The four teams which have entered the group stage of the UCL were the top four finishers of last years EPL: Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, and Arsenal. Liverpool were the first one to drop out after managing only one win in a group which although featured title-holders Real Madrid, consisted of such unremarkable teams like FC Basel of Switzerland and newcomers Ludogorets Razgrad of Bulgaria. The Reds early exit was disappointing, but it was also consistent with their mediocre performance in the league, therefore it was received only by bitter acceptance. (Liverpool went and crashed out from the Europa League on the first opportunity as well.)
The other three teams sailed through their respective groups without much difficulty, but in the knockout phase Chelsea were bested by French champions Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester City lost without much argument to Barcelona, and hapless Arsenal managed to get beaten by AS Monaco.
What stands out first that all three teams seemed powerless to change the game when it started to turn sour. Chelsea twice failed to keep the lead, even though PSGs Zlatan Ibrahimovic was sent off during the first half, Manchester City simply could not offer any meaningful resistance against Barcelona, and their game effectively was lost after Luis Suarez scored his first goal in the 16th minute of the first leg, while Arsenal should have gone through Monaco, but with inexplicably letting in three goals at home they dug themselves into a hole. Some might point out that both PSG and Monaco are funded by oil-rich billionaires, and therefore through their limitless spending they can buy themselves into the quarter finals, but this point is moot since the same thing could be said (and has been said) about Manchester City and Chelsea.
Surely, next year we will see English teams in the top eight again, but this disturbing development should come as a warning for something has to change.