Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Moment at Wembley That Signals a European Power Shift; in Association withEriksen's Goal Symbolises How Premier League's Best Can Mix It with Continent's Elite

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Moment at Wembley That Signals a European Power Shift; in Association withEriksen's Goal Symbolises How Premier League's Best Can Mix It with Continent's Elite

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Collomosse Football Correspondent comment

WHEN Christian Eriksen held off Luka Modric and steered Tottenham's third goal past Real Madrid goalkeeper Kiko Casilla, it felt like a moment of huge significance.

Eriksen had been outplayed by Modric, one of his finest predecessors at Tottenham, when the sides drew at the Bernabeu two weeks ago, and it seemed as though Eriksen still had some way to travel to catch the Croatian master.

Yet at Wembley, Eriksen turned the tables and maybe his display also symbolised a power shift in European football.

After Manchester United took the Champions League in 2008, Barcelona and Real Madrid shared six of the next nine titles, with Atletico Madrid the beaten finalists in 2014 and 2016. By contrast, Chelsea's win in 2012 was the sole blow for England's top flight, while United lost against Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 finals. The Premier League's best could illuminate the domestic game but when they faced the experts from La Liga, they usually fell short.

There are many battles ahead in this season's Champions League. But if Tottenham, who are playing in the competition for only the third time, can look so superior to Madrid, perhaps the pattern is changing. The statistics certainly suggest so.

Last season, English clubs won 50 per cent of their Champions League group matches, with 29 per cent drawn and 21 per cent lost. After four matches of the first-round stage this season, English clubs have a 75 per cent win ratio, with only five per cent of those fixtures ending in defeats.

Harry Kane believes Tottenham's improvement can be attributed to a more streetwise style, after they were eliminated in the group phase last term. After defeating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 on the opening night, Toby Alderweireld praised Spurs for playing "like adults, not children", and Kane echoed his team-mate.

The England forward said: "We played in it last year and maybe got caught out on the counter-attack a few times, pushing too many forward. …

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