Irish Daily Star


- ■■Jon VEAL

I’d be wary of making any such claims. What has happened is a reminder that the Champions League is a knockout competitio­n, and such a format can always eliminate hot favourites and fancied — and better — teams.

The Premier League is still the strongest in the world.


I’d be pretty confident in the assertion that City, Arsenal and Liverpool are in the top five teams around, maybe even top four.

That might sound odd when you consider recent results — especially Liverpool’s 3-0 Europa League hammering by Atalanta at Anfield — and they’re a long way off the pace in Italy.

HARD TO TAKE: Manchester City players are left helpless during their shootout loss

But English clubs’ chances have been badly damaged by the demands of the authoritie­s across the water.

According to Guardiola, both Kevin de Bruyne and Erling Haaland asked to be substitute­d on Wednesday night as they were wrecked.

For the second season in a row, Bukayo Saka — a key player for Arsenal — has looked out on his feet in March and April.

Liverpool’s form tailed off largely due to fatigue too. They were hit hard by injuries and some that came in have had to play too many games.

But I don’t think the English authoritie­s care. Why on earth were Arsenal playing last Sunday in a big game against Aston Villa?

GUN AND DUSTED: Ben White is left devastated as Bayern (right) celebrate

The other big leagues move fixtures around to try and help their teams in Europe.

Bayern Munich are always playing on Saturdays before Champions League games, Italian teams often on the Friday night.

There’s talk now of the winter break in England being binned in favour of a longer summer break.


But we know what that will lead to — and this is where the clubs have to shoulder blame too.

With a longer summer break, they’ll just organise more lucrative friendlies in the US, Australia and Asia.

There doesn’t seem to be any real duty of care towards players, they flogged.

I do think it’s important to point out that

City were very unlucky on Wednesday night.

A year ago, they thumped Real 4-0 at the Etihad.

They could have won by four goals again.

I don’t know how Real got through to the shoot-out. City should have buried them, it was a freakish result.

But Guardiola’s side were playing their 51st game of the season, it was Real Madrid’s 45th.

That does matter. The grind cost City de Bruyne and Haaland in extra-time and the shootout.

It was a heavy price to pay. are being

COLE PALMER is an “absolute genius” who could help England win Euro 2024 — according to Joe Cole.

Palmer (21) has lit up the Premier League after his move to Chelsea from Manchester City, scoring 20 goals and notching nine assists.

Palmer, who has two caps, was not involved in last month’s friendlies against Brazil and Belgium due to injury, but Cole believes he can be the difference­maker in Germany.

“He has been sensationa­l and there is an argument he could be Player of the Year — that’s how good he has been,” said Cole.


“You have to bring a player of that quality. “The technician­s are what are going to win us the tournament.

They all have to go and they all have to have time on the pitch. “Palmer is a top player. I have watched him play and he is a top, top player.

“Cole Palmer is an absolute genius.”

Cole is also impressed by Palmer’s mentality, highlighte­d by his refusal to hand a penalty over to squabbling team-mates Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke, despite already scoring a hattrick in the 6-0 win over Everton.

Palmer kept his cool and scored a fourth to take his tally to 20 for the season.

Cole added: “It’s fantastic he has got that mindset — he is not a wallflower.

“He is a proper player, he will go anywhere on the pitch and take the ball, he backs himself. “Sometimes people can look at that with disdain, saying it’s arrogance. It’s not arrogance. We need it and we need more players like that.”

 ?? ?? CRUCIAL: Rodrygo celebrates his opener at the Etihad on Wednesday
SUPERB: Palmer
CRUCIAL: Rodrygo celebrates his opener at the Etihad on Wednesday SUPERB: Palmer
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