Round five or UEFA Champions League has come to a close and with it, we got served with eight teams who already secured their spot in the playoffs, leaving only eight more spots open that lead directly into the playoffs. That said, let’s look over what happened in round five, which teams impressed, which underperformed and ultimately which teams already secured a spot in the final 16.
In group A, we got to see two stalemates between PSG and Real Madrid (2:2) and Club Brugge KV and Galatasaray (1:1). While not a result Real Madrid were looking for, a draw earned them the eighth and final point they needed to advance out of the group and into the playoffs. Club Brugge and Galatasaray on the other side played their match as more of a formality than anything more, as they were already denied a spot in the playoffs as soon as they got seeded with PSG and Real Madrid.
Both of the two favourites – Bayern Munich and Tottenham won their round five fixtures, resulting in Tottenham’s direct promotion into the playoffs. There were some concerns whether Crvena Zvezda would manage to catch up to Spurs, however, their 0:6 defeat at the hands of German champions sealed the deal for the Serbian squad. Looking at the standings heading into round six, it’s safe to say there were no surprises in group B.
Nothing has changed in group C in terms of which team will join Manchester City in their venture into the playoffs, seeing how Zagreb failed to defeat Atalanta (0:2) and Man City failed to defeat Shakhtar (1:1). That now opens up a very interesting round six, seeing how we have three teams who all can make it into the final stage. Atalanta are still at the bottom of the standings with four points next to their name, Zagreb are third with five and Shakhtar are second with six. In theory, any team of the three can advance into the playoffs, meaning we are in for an exciting round six, which will see Atalanta clash with Shakhtar and Zagreb with Man City.
By losing against Juventus (0:1), Atletico Madrid failed to guarantee themselves a direct promotion into the playoffs and are now put in an unenviable position, where they need to defeat Lokomotiv Moscow in round six to earn a ticket for the final 16. If they fail, however, and if Bayern Leverkusen manages to defeat Juventus, we could be in for a shock result. Much like group C, group D will serve us with an exciting round six.
A group that seemed like it was decided as soon as it started proved to be one of the closest groups of the UCL group stage. Liverpool and Napoli produced an underwhelming draw in round five (1:1), while Salzburg secured all three points against Genk (4:1). That now means that any of the three can make it into the next stage. Liverpool are currently sitting at the top spot with 10 points, followed by Napoli with nine and Salzburg at third with seven. In the next round, we will see Napoli clash with Genk while Liverpool travel to Austria to clash with Salzburg.
With their win against Dortmund (3:1), Barcelona are through to the playoffs, leaving the second seed wide open. Inter won their clash with Slavia Prague (1:3), which now ties them with Dortmund at the second spot. In round six, we Dortmund clash with Slavia, while Inter welcome Barcelona at home turf. As it seems, Dortmund are in a better spot to secure the second seed, but as we have come to realise Conte’s men are not to be underestimated.
With a draw against Benfica in round five (1:1), RB Leipzig secured their spot in the playoffs, while Lyon made things very hard for them after dropping points against Zenit (0:2), which now ties them at the second spot, with both teams holding onto seven points apiece. In the last round, Zenit will meet with Benfica, while Lyon hosts Leipzig in what promises to be an exciting round that will give us the final answer of which team will join Leipzig in the final stage of the UCL.
As we are approaching round six, there is still not a team that managed to guarantee themselves a spot in the final 16 in group H. As it stands now, Ajax are leading the standings with 10 points after their 2:0 win against Lille. The clash between Valencia and Chelsea on the other side ended in a 2:2 draw, meaning they are now tied at second with 8 points apiece. In the last round of the group stage, Chelsea will meet with Lille, while Valencia takes a trip up north to meet with Ajax. Who will come out ahead is anyone’s guess, but one thing is for sure. This is anyone’s race.