After years of Champions League struggles, Premier League clubs are now set for an incredible feat only achieved twice before in the Champions League.
Since 2012-13, English clubs have won a combined total of four Champions League knockout ties.
It’s a startling statistic which brings into focus the extent one of Europe’s premier domestic leagues has fallen on the competitive continental landscape.
While Spanish clubs have heralded in an era of dominance, their English counterparts have languished, as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have rewritten the record books in the Champions League.
But on Wednesday, as Manchester City all but flew into the quarter finals and Tottenham put themselves in the box seat to do the same with a come-from-behind away draw to Juventus.
We are now witnessing the start of the re-emergence of Premier League clubs on European football’s top stage.
With Manchester United and Liverpool both facing very winnable ties against Sevilla and Porto over the coming days and weeks, it’s a very real prospect that half of the Champions League’s top eight sides will all hail from England.
It will be only the third time in UCL history four quarter-finalists have come from the one country, stemming back to the Premier League’s previous run of dominating the comp.
Back 2007-08 and 2008-09, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United all made the final eight. That meant the 2008 final was all English — United beating Chelsea on penalties — while United fell to Pep Guardiola’s all conquering Barcelona side in the 2009 final
But to achieve the same feat this time around is a remarkable turn of events for a country where elite clubs have failed on the European stage.
Despite very different philosophies across England’s top clubs, it appears each has found a recipe capable of competing with, and even defeating, the world’s top club sides.
Chelsea face Barcelona next week in the ultimate test of how far the league has come – with Ernesto Valverde’s league leaders the heavy favourites to knock out Antonio Conte’s fourth placed battlers.
While City were always backed to do away with Basel – and they did so in merciless fashion – it was Spurs’ gritty comeback draw which showcased a new found English fight which has rarely been seen continentally.
Goals from Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen reversed a quickly achieved 2-0 deficit, as Spurs registered two away goals against last season’s Champions League finalists Juventus.
Juve boast some of Europe’s top talent in Gonzalo Higuain, Pualo Dybala, Gianluigi Buffon and others, but the likes of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and co. were up to the task and now welcome the Serie A side to Wembley with a real chance of progression.
While its too early to back an English side to go all the way, especially with PSG, Barca and Real Madrid all lurking, the re-emergence of the Premier League’s elite will have the world’s top sides on notice.
The reasons for the revival are hard to pinpoint – but seem to stem from an ability to attract the world’s top managerial talent and an overwhelmingly competitive fight for European qualification.
City are leading the charge domestically and appear to be doing the same in the Champions League, with Pep Guardiola masterminding an attack focused style of play which is yielding results wherever the team venture.
And that was clearly on show as the Mancunians plundered four goals against Basel and stamped their authority in Switzerland. Sergio Aguero and Kevin De Bruyne were heavily involved again as yet another defence failed to cope with their threat.
Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar has backed City as contenders for the title, stating “I think ourselves and Manchester City need to be taken very seriously.”
England boasts the tied second amount of Champions League winners in the history of Europe’s top competition, with 12 titles – five short of runaway category leaders Spain.
More English sides have won the tournament than any other nation, but the last of which came in 2012 as Chelsea secured their one and only title.
Since then, the slide has been sharp.
The Blues semi-final appearance in 2014 has been the lone last four appearance for the nation in the past five seasons.
But now with top managers like Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Conte and Jose Mourinho, English sides boast the European pedigree and successful philosophies to excel in Europe.
Interestingly, not a single one of the nation’s top sides are managed by a native Englishman, with Sean Dyche currently the highest placed English manager in the Premier League – with Burnley in seventh.
It paints a dismal picture for one of the world’s most proud footballing nations, and one which is sadly reflected in their record at international tournaments.
Just one World Cup victory and a history of disappointment, which has recently translated into their club exploits.
But helmed by non-native managerial talent, their time has come yet again.
If all goes to plan, four of the eight competitors in the Champions League quarter finals will ply their domestic football in the Premier League in a remarkable turnaround which threatens to turn the Champions League on its head for seasons to come.