The sun has set on round three of Champions League, meaning the group stage of the most prestigious football tournament has reached its halfway mark. With three rounds behind us and only three more rounds left to be played, all the eight groups started to take shape, revealing who we can expect will come out on top and advance into the playoffs. That said, there are still a handful of groups, where, even now, there is no clear indication which team, or better yet, which two teams are most likely to claim the top two seeds.
Now let’s check how round three of the UCL group stage went in each group and look over the most important, or in other words most impactful results that will dictate how the remaining three rounds will play out.
After the dominant win over Club Brugge KV (5:0), PSG cemented themselves as the group leaders, where they sit with a perfect 3-0-0 score on top of being the only team in the tournament that hasn’t yet conceded a goal. It’s easy to see PSG will claim the first ticket leading to playoffs from group A and, if they manage to defeat Brugge once more in round four, they will be guaranteed a top-two finish. That said, the remaining three clubs are still in the race, but to be completely fair, it’s Real Madrid who should come out ahead of both Galatasaray and Club Brugge. As it stands now Los Blancos hold onto a 1-1-1 record, with their first win of the group stage coming from their clash with Galatasaray (0:1) this Tuesday. Seeing how Club Brugge sit third in the group with two points and Galatasaray last with one, Real Madrid should be able to finish above the Belgian and Turkish outfit. But as we have come to realise, Real Madrid can be very unpredictable with their results this season.
Not a lot shocking results came in round three in group B. Bayern won their third in a row against Olympiacos (2:3), whereas Tottenham finally showed their true strength as they took down Crvena Zvezda (5:0). As it stands now, Bayern Munich are first with nine points, followed by Tottenham with four and Crvena Zvezda closely behind with three. It would be safe to say Bayern will finish top of the group, and Tottenham second, however, with the recent poor results from Spurs, we would not be surprised if they somehow manage to drop the ball and finish third. But nine times out of ten, Pochetitno’s men should be finishing the group stage in the top two.
Manchester City won their third in a row on Tuesday when they crushed Atalanta (5:1) and more or less guaranteed themselves a spot in the playoffs. That said, it’s Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk who are fighting a close battle for the second seed. Last round the two sides ended their meeting with a draw (2:2), leaving the gates for the second spot wide open. While there are many ways this race can go, we can are confident saying the round four fixture between Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk will be the one that will decide which team will claim the second and last ticket for UCL playoffs.
No surprises in Group D either, seeing how it’s Juventus and Atletico Madrid who sit first and second in the group respectively. Looking at round three results, Juventus edged past Lokomotiv Moscow (2:1), whereas Atl. Madrid won against Bayern Leverkusen (1:0) last round, further establishing themselves as the top dogs of the group. While neither of the wins were as dominant as many would expect, a win is a win and with four points separating the top two teams from Lokomotiv Moscow, it’s fair to say this group is sealed.
Napoli won a closely fought match against Salzburg in Austria last round (2:3), where they had to work hard to claim all three points, which earned them a top spot in Group E. Liverpool, on the other side proved their worth once more, with a dominant 1:4 win over Genk. The two football giants now sit first and second in the group respectively with seven and six points next to their name. Salzburg are third with three points, whereas Genk are chained to the bottom of the group with one point. We don’t expect many surprises here in terms of which team will advance, however, we have come to realise Salzburg are the team that should never be underestimated, seeing how they pushed both Liverpool (3:4) and Napoli (2:3) to their limits.
Barcelona edged past Slavia Prague (2:1) on Wednesday to claim their second win of the group stage, which pushed them to the top of the group, where they sith with 2-1-0 record and seven points. Close behind, we have Inter and Dortmund, who both earned four points so far. Last round Inter impressed with a 2:0 win over Dortmund, which returned them back into the race for the playoffs ticket. Seeing how Barcelona hold onto seven points, which is barely three above Inter and Dortmund, group F is far from decided, especially considering everyone can defeat anyone. The sole exception here being Slavia Prague, who lost their chance to claim the top two seed with their second defeat in a row.
RB Leipzig impressed with a 2:1 win over Zenit last round, which catapulted them to the top of the group stage, where they sit with a 2-0-1 record and six points. Trailing behind, we have Zenit and Lyon, both with four points. Lyon lost their chance to claim the top spot last round with a 2:1 defeat against Benfica, who managed to claim their first W of the group stage. As it stands now, only three points separate the group leaders and Benfica, suggesting this group is still wide open. While Benfica seem to be in the worst spot heading into round four, there is a chance they can bounce back and finish top two, considering they are only a point short of breaking into the top half of the table. All in all, Group G will still have a lot to offer to football fans and while we usually can predict which team is the most likely to win the group, here that’s near impossible task.
Following a disastrous start of the group stage, where Chelsea lost to Valencia (0:1), the Blues bounced back with two consecutive wins, with the most recent coming from their clash with Ajax. Chelsea played well on that night, and won all three points, which tied them with Ajax as the frontrunners of group H. Third in the group is Valencia, who lost their chance to claim the first seed with a draw against Lille last round, whereas Lille remains at the bottom of the group with a 0-1-2 record next to their name. All things considered, Chelsea and Ajax should push through and come out ahead here, that is, however, if Valencia don’t upset one of the two giants and overtake them in the standings.