Andy Townsend's Euro Files

Last updated at 22:08 25 October 2007

As the Champions League group phase

reaches the halfway stage, Sportsmail's

Andy Townsend delivers his verdict on

the six British clubs involved:

Liverpool: Don't write them off

It's been a hugely disappointing

start for Rafa's boys, but Liverpool

are more than capable of winning

their remaining three games and


Rafa Benitez

They were poor against Porto and

Marseille and only marginally better

at Besiktas, but if they need to win

their last game in France, they have

enough quality to do so. And if they

get through, don't bet against them

going all the way.

It will be very interesting if the

unthinkable were to happen and they

were dumped out of the Champions

League in the group stages. I think

then we'd see the real Rafa Benitez.

It would provide a clearer indication of

how he goes about his business.

Would he still rotate his starting XI

if they only had to concentrate on

domestic matters? An early exit would

show if they really can launch a title


I think Benitez — and most European

coaches — have an obsession

with success in Europe and prioritise

the Champions League. It's as if it's

in their genes.

It would be interesting to see how he

would manage the team if the Premier

League became his priority. Rafa has

to change his thinking if Liverpool are

to succeed in the league.

Arsenal: Wonderful to watch

Arsenal were given a

favourable draw, but

that's not their fault

and they've made the

most of it.


challenges lie ahead,

but Arsene Wenger will be delighted with the

way his young team are

performing. They play

the same way whether

they're playing Bolton

or Sevilla — and it's an

absolute joy to watch.

My one concern is — can

they keep playing like

this and maintain this

level of performance?

Let's see how they get

on when under pressure

against better teams.

Didier Drogba

Chelsea: Drogba - Simply the best

Didier Drogba is the best

striker in England right

now. He's on fire and has

become a massive

influence on the whole

team — and can be the

player who helps

strengthen Avram Grant's

position as manager.


Terry and Frank Lampard

used to be Chelsea's most

important players, but

there's no question that

Drogba is the main man now.

No one in England leads the line with

such authority and Chelsea always look

threatening with him in the side.

I felt his recent

remarks about the club were out of order and put

his head on the block, but I take my hat off to him

— he's scored in the two games since.

With the

players at Grant's disposal, Chelsea should go far

in the competition, but only if Drogba's attitude is

right. Don't be surprised if Drogba's mindset

changes and, if it does, Chelsea will be in trouble.

Man Utd: Formidable force

After a slow start to

the season, Manchester

United are beginning to

look very dangerous.

They could have scored

seven in Kiev — and

that's without the likes of

Scholes, Carrick, Neville,

Saha, Evra and


I wasn't

convinced about them

earlier in the season, but

I am now. They look

formidable, score goals

from all over the pitch

and are so fluid in attack. The players clearly trust

each other and play

with such confidence.

When they take the lead

now you can only see one

result — a United win.

Very impressive.

Celtic and Rangers: Great starts

Walter Smith and Ally McCoist have obviously got

Rangers believing in themselves and it was fantastic

to see them hold Barcelona at Ibrox.

After such an

incredible start manager Gordon Strachan will be

disappointed with Celtic's defeat at Benfica. Yet it was

a much-improved performance and they weren't far

away from getting a result.

Compared to their away

displays in previous campaigns, that was a huge


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