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Feb 20, 2013

Benitez allays fears over English quality

Chelsea interim manager Rafael Benitez has said the Premier League still boasts some of Europe's top teams and does not believe it is in decline despite another drop-off in Champions League results.

• Blog: Who could replace Benitez?

His comments came after Arsenal's 3-1 first-leg defeat to Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

That result means the Gunners are facing elimination and, for the fourth consecutive season, that the English top flight will have, at best, one team in the semi-finals.

During Benitez's time in charge of Liverpool, the Premier League occupied six of eight semi-final slots between 2008 and 2009 and had a team in the final every season between 2004-05 and 2008-09.

But the Spaniard feels the competition is going through its natural cycles and said: "I think it depends on the year.

"You cannot say they [English teams] are not doing well and that's because they are going downhill or whatever. Two or three years ago, you had a lot of English teams in the semi-finals, the finals.

"Sometimes in Europe, you have a lot of teams that have improved, too. So if you have a bad group or a bad day it can happen.

"Still I can see the English clubs with a lot of potential, [they are] top sides in Europe. The potential of these clubs is so big that, any time, they can be there again.

"To have two or three English teams in the final or the semi-final is not easy because of the size of the other teams. I don't see a big problem. I think it's just one year and the next year will be different."

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