Michael Owen is predicting English clubs will take the Champions League by storm next season.
Five years have elapsed since Chelsea became the last Premier League team to reach the competition’s final – beating Bayern Munich in a penalty shoot-out in their own backyard at the Allianz Arena to lift the trophy.
But Owen reckons that’s about to change, with the Premier League fielding five teams in the competition next season if Liverpool come through a qualifying play-off.
The former England striker said: “We’ve not made an impact for a while but I think that is about to change next season, absolutely. Especially with Chelsea . They will take on anyone toe to toe in terms of quality and I can’t imagine anyone stuffing them.
“With all due respect, the last group of teams we had, you could pick holes in them all.
“Leicester were playing at that level for the first time and they did remarkably well and only lost to Atletico Madrid. Spurs were playing games at Wembley, and in a different stadium it’s never easy – as they discovered.
“Arsenal had a tough season and got a stinking draw, then Manchester City and Pep Guardiola were trying to introduce a new way of playing. So no-one did that well.
“Next season, hopefully Spurs will be getting used to it at Wembley and put in good performances. Manchester United will be massively strong , and so will City . And who goes to Anfield and has it easy with Liverpool ?
“I would be a bit distraught if we don’t get at least one club to the final. I think it will be a our strongest representation in years and I will be amazed if we don’t have two semi-finalists.”
Owen believes Juventus could spring a shock against Real Madrid in Cardiff.
He said: “People see Italian teams as dogged and determined, but Juventus attack cleverly. I like Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain is a born finisher. Ganluigi Buffon is still an absolutely top keeper and defensively they are brilliant.”
* Owen will be joining Steven Gerrard, Rio Ferdinand, David James and Phil Neville in pulling the England shirt back on at Star Sixes, a new six-a-side World Cup for legends being staged at the O2, London, between July 13 and 16. Tickets are on sale atwww.starsixes.com