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It is safe to say that for the likes of Chelsea and the rest of the Premier League’s biggest clubs, the Champions League has not brought much joy in recent years.

There was a time in the not-too-distant past when English sides used to rule Europe’s premier club competition.

After Porto won the Champions League in 2004, a Premier League team made the final every year bar one (2010) right up to and including when Chelsea won it in 2012.

The final of 2008 even boasted two English sides as Chelsea and Manchester United battled it out for European glory.

However, since those days of English supremacy the landscape has dramatically changed.

A Spanish revolution has occurred and the past four years have seen La Liga sides lift the trophy, with Real Madrid this season looking for a fourth Champions League crown in a row.

It all means that since the European Cup was rebranded as the Champions League in 1992, English sides have won it four out of a possible 25 times.

Naturally, Premier League managers have offered plenty of explanations for the decline.

“The only thing I can say is that last season Real Madrid played the last month in La Liga with their second team,” says Manchester United boss José Mourinho.

“They could do it. They arrived in the Champions League with a fresh team.

“For English teams normally that’s impossible because usually the competition [for the Premier League] goes very strong until the end.”

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte adds: “English teams have difficulty in the Champions League because the league is very tough here.

“You play a medium team in England in the league, you can lose. There are six or seven teams in this league fighting for the title. You are never relaxed in England.”

While Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino explains: “When you are here the Premier League is the main competition for every player.

“When you are here the players want to fight to try to win it, maybe because we are not in [continental] Europe.

“In Italy, France and Spain the Champions League is the most important competition, but in English culture, it is the Premier League and then the FA Cup.”

This season, however, there is a renewed sense of hope as English clubs look to change their fortune in the Champions League.

For the first time in history there are five Premier League teams competing in the group stage and that alone is a major boost.

There is also the bonus of Atlético Madrid, finalists in 2014 and 2016, having been under a FIFA transfer ban this summer.

Fellow Spanish giants Barcelona endured a difficult off-season too, as star forward Neymar left for a world record £200m to Paris Saint-Germain.

Couple that with the growing wealth of Premier League clubs due to television revenue and suddenly the landscape is looking a lot better.

Pep Guardiola is beginning to fully impose his methods at Manchester City, while Mourinho looks set to continue his record of thriving in his second season no matter what club he is at.

However, for England legend Peter Shilton, it is Chelsea who could well be the Premier League’s star performer in the Champions League this season.

Like everyone he has been drawn to the two Manchester clubs due to the work of Guardiola and Mourinho.

But that has not stopped him tipping Chelsea to be the ones to go deep into the knockout stages this season.

“Of course yeah, we can win it,” said Shilton when asked if an English team could be lifting the trophy come May.

“Whether we will is another question. But we have got teams good enough to win it I think.

“Manchester City at the moment have started on fire. They are playing some fantastic football, but I think maybe Chelsea [are my pick].

“They are very strong as a team, they are hard to beat. They would probably be top of my list, but I think Man City have got every chance as well.

“I think we have got good teams in there, Manchester United too. But Chelsea would be top of my list.”

Shilton’s decision to plump for Chelsea may well raise a few eyebrows given Conte’s record in the Champions League.

While he may have won three Serie A titles in a row with Juventus, but the Italian struggled to make an impact in Europe.

Twice Conte had a crack at the Champions League, but he left Turin in 2014 with a record of just four wins in 14 matches in the competition.

To his credit, Juve reached the quarter-finals in 2012/13 but the following season they disappointingly failed to even make it out of their group.

However, there is no reason Conte cannot succeed in the Champions League with Chelsea.

Back at Juventus, the club was only just returning to European football and they were still on the process of rebuilding. Indeed the campaign of 2012/13 was their first in the Champions League since 2008/09.

Naturally it has taken them time to adapt to playing in Europe again and the impact can be seen now by their success under Massimiliano Allegri.

Conte has developed and improved as a manager since then too and he will have learned from his experiences with Juventus.

Crucially, this Chelsea team has a formidable defence and that will stand them in good stead when the knockout stages come around.

Manchester City may be easier on the eye, but questions marks are still lurking around their security at the back and it could be their undoing.

Chelsea’s home record under Conte also explains Shilton’s optimism. In the Premier League last season they scored more goals than anyone else at home, 55 to be precise, while they only tasted defeat twice.

Stamford Bridge can and should be a fortress for them, and the atmosphere under the lights on a European night will only add to that.

Conte’s squad too, while for a long time this summer it looked as though he would be left unhappy with it, seems better equipped for Europe than last year.

Nemanja Matić has been replaced by the more dynamic Tiemoué Bakayoko, who showed with Monaco last season he is ready to compete at this level.

Striker Álvaro Morata also brings with him Champions League pedigree.

Despite limited game time at Real Madrid last season he bagged three goals in the competition, while his stint at Juventus saw him score 7 times in two European campaigns.

Contrast that with the now departed Diego Costa, who netted just twice in 15 Champions League games for Chelsea.

“In the Champions League we are starting a path and it will be very important to start building something important,” says Conte.

And who knows, if Shilton is right, Chelsea could be scurrying up that path quicker than they originally thought possible.

Champions League