Now that we are halfway through the group stage of the 2013-14 UEFA Champions League, let’s take a look at where things stand heading in to this week’s action:
Manchester United – 7 points
Bayer Leverkeusen – 6 points
Shakhtar Donetsk – 4 points
Real Sociedad – 0 points
As expected Manchester United have set the pace atop Group A. With 2 wins and a draw through the first half of fixtures United look set to cruise to the top spot. The 2nd and 3rd spots in Group A look to be down to Bayer Leverkusen and Shakhtar. Real Sociedad are yet to pick up a point and look set to only play spoiler from here on out. The race to see who clinches that all important 2nd spot in Group A will be interesting and one we will definitely be keeping our eyes on.
Real Madrid – 9 points
Galatasaray – 4 points
Juventus – 2 points
FC Kobenhavn – 1 point
Group B has offered us somewhat of a surprise through 3 match days. No one is doubting the extreme talent that Galatasaray possesses (both on the field and on the sidelines) but no could have seen italian powerhouse Juventus with only 2 points through 3 games and already having lost to Madrid while giving up 5 goals over 3 games. Juventus were strongly considered as a favorite for this years Champions League and it now seems like they’ll have to hit a strong run of form (which of course is not out of the question) just to advance past the group stage. A group that at one time seemed destined to be controlled by Juve and Real Madrid is now up for grabs.
PSG – 9 points
Olympiacos – 4 points
Benfica – 4 points
Anderlecht – 0 points
PSG has been arguably the best team in Europe so far this season and also possess possibly the best player in the world right now in Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibrahimovic has 6 goals in 3 games (trailing only Cristiano Ronaldo) and has looked like a man destined to lead his team to Champions League glory for the first time. It’s all but a foregone conclusion that PSG will be winning Group C, the only question remains is who will get the 2nd spot? Olympiacos and Benfica are tied on 4 points apiece after 3 games and both teams will believe it is their spot to lose. This weeks matchup between the 2 teams might very well go a long way in determining who advances to the knockout round and who goes to the Europa League.
Bayern Munich – 9 points
Manchester City – 6 points
PFC CSKA Moscow – 3 points
Viktoria Plzen – 0 points
Group D is perhaps the only group that has progressed just about how everyone thought it would. Bayern Munich is atop the group with a perfect 9 points from 3 games and Manchester City is in 2nd with 6 points after only a loss to Bayern. Bayern has only given up 1 goal in the first 3 games and look set to once again advance deep into the competition. city will be looking to forget past Champions League disappointment and finally advance past the group stage. CSKA Moscow is on the outside looking in as things stand and they will be sure to try and spoil the party and sneak into that 2nd spot and advance into the knockout round.
Chelsea FC – 6 points
Schalke 04 – 6 points
FC Basel – 4 points
Steaua Bucharest – 1 point
Group E offered up a little surprise when Basel defeated Chelsea on the opening match day and has that has thrown the group wide open. Chelsea were widely considered to have one of the easiest paths to the knockout round but now see themselves in a dogfight with Schalke and Basel right on their tails. Both Schalke and Basel will have their arguments for why they belong in the knockout rounds and I’m sure they’d love nothing more than to sneak in and send Chelsea out at the group stage for the 2nd consecutive season.
Arsenal – 6 points
Borussia Dortmund – 6 points
SSC Napoli – 6 points
Olympique de Marseille – 0 points
Group F has been, by far, the most entertaining group in this years Champions League thus far. Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli all find themselves tied on 6 points and any combination of these teams could easily make a deep run in the Champions League. This is the rare group where 3 teams are hitting top form at the same time. Arsenal are setting the pace in England while Dortmund and Napoli are hot on the heals of the leaders in Germany and Italy. Group F will be sure to provide some exciting twists and turns the rest of the way and it will be very exciting to see who comes out of the fight at the end.
Atletico Madrid – 9 points
Zenit St. Petersburg – 4 points
FC Porto – 3 points
FK Austria Wien – 1 point
Group G sees Atletico Madrid leading the way after 3 match days much like many expected them to. Atletico look prime to advance to the knockout round once again and will believe that they should be able to make a deep run in this years competition. Zenit and Porto will be battling for the 2nd spot and if Zenit could beat Porto again this week it will certainly go a long way in determining who advances and who goes to the Europa League.
FC Barcelona – 7 points
AC Milan – 5 points
Celtic FC – 3 points
Ajax Amsterdam – 1 point
Group H once again sees European powerhouses Barcelona and Milan paired against each other. Both teams have not looked at their best thus far but they have found the results necessary to put themselves in a qualifying position after 3 match days. Many believe that Barcelona and Milan will eventually qualify, Celtic is always lurking close by and ready to take advantage of any slip either of those teams might have. Keep an eye out for Group H; I think we might be in for a little bit of a surprise come the end of the group stage.
1. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) – 7 goals
2. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (PSG) – 6 goals
3. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) – 4 goals
Leading Assist Men:
1. Angel Di Maria (Real Madrid) – 4 assists
Thiago Motta (PSG) – 4 assists
3. Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) – 3 assists
Ezequiel Lavezzi (PSG) – 3 assists
Gregory van der Wiel (PSG) – 3 assists
– Dylan and Joe