Infantino - Prem still strong

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino believes English football is still strong despite having no representatives remaining in the last eight of the UEFA Champions League.

Last Updated: 14/03/13 at 22:21 Post Comment   

Arsenal exited the tournament at the last 16 stage to Bayern Munich on Wednesday night to end Premier League interest in this year's competition.

Manchester United had crashed out to Real Madrid the week before, while holders Chelsea and Manchester City failed to make it past the group phase.

This year marks the first time since 1996 that no English team will compete in the quarter-finals of the competition.

But Infantino believes Premier League teams will bounce straight back next season.

He told Sky Sports: "It goes in waves. I am not sure it's a wake-up call.

"Last year Chelsea won the Champions League so it cannot be that from being the champions of Europe, English teams have suddenly become the weakest football in Europe.

"I think English football is still extremely strong football, the Premier League is still one of the top leagues in Europe and this will not change. Next year English teams will be back and competing to the win the big trophy of European champions."

Former Arsenal and Manchester City man Patrick Vieira, currently City's football development executive, agrees the absence of English clubs will be shortlived.

"I believe it is only a one-off and I'm sure next year a team like ourselves, United, Chelsea and Arsenal, whoever qualifies for the Champions League, will be there to win it," he said.

"I think when you look at the Premier League it is one of the best in Europe, and of course it is disappointing not having an English team in the quarter-finals, but when you look at the way United lost their game, I think the referee had a big part to play in that game.

"It is the first time since 1996 but it should not draw away from the things that the teams in the Premier League have been doing in the last few years.

"That's the way it is. We have to think about the way we can improve the quality of the teams to challenge Madrid or Barcelona or Bayern Munich."

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