The supremacy of Spanish teams over England’s best was demonstrated again on Wednesday night as only the brilliance of Joe Hart prevented Manchester City suffering a humiliating defeat to Barca at the Nou Camp.
City’s loss means there are no English representatives in the last eight of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons with Chelsea and Arsenal also out.
A study has looked at each competition from 1992-93 up to and including the 2013-14 edition and has awarded points to clubs on a sliding scale, from a minimum of one for losing at the quarter-final stage to a maximum of four for winning the trophy.
Under these criteria, Barca scored 30 points, edging out bitter rivals Real Madrid (29) despite winning the competition three times over the period compared to Real’s four triumphs.
Bayern Munich were third overall on 28 points with Manchester United the top performing English club on 26. The next best English representatives in the study are Chelsea on 19 points.
The success of Barca and Real contributed heavily to La Liga’s tally of 79 points, 11 better than that managed overall by Premier League clubs in the same period. That lead will grow by at least three points at the end of this season with Barca, Real and Atletico Madrid all in the last eight.
The argument that domestic competition is keener in the Premier League than in Spain is not borne out by the study either, with Spain’s points accumulated by seven clubs whereas just six contributed to the Premier League total.
The Premier League is in a period of relative decline. The golden years were 2006-07 to 2008-09, where English clubs earned 25 points, including the highest single score of 10 points in 2007-08, when United and Chelsea contested the final.
Chelsea were the lone representatives in the last eight as they won the title in 2012, with 2013 a barren year for English clubs and only three points gained in 2013-14.
Liverpool’s triumph in 2005 and final appearance two years later make them the third-best English club in the study period on 11 points, though, of course, going back to the European Cup era they have a further four titles to boast about.
Arsenal have accrued nine points and are the highest-placed team in the whole study not to have won the competition, with their runners-up finish in 2006 the best they have managed.
The success of AC Milan and Juventus in the 1990s and the early part of the last decade means Serie A has performed better overall than the Bundesliga, but Italian success has dried up in recent years with German clubs on the rise. The seven points gained in 2013 as Bayern and Borussia Dortmund reached the final at Wembley was a high watermark for the league.
The study also shows how the Champions League has increasingly become a closed shop. The spread of countries involved in the last eight has declined since UEFA granted entry to non-champion clubs from the strongest nations from 1997-98 onwards, with just four countries represented in five of those seasons covered, including the 2013-14 campaign.