Barcelona, Real Madrid, Arsenal, PSG, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Man. City and, umm, Leicester City all hope to be at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on 3 June. That’s where Europe’s premier football event, the Champions League final, will be played and 12 teams are already safely through the group stage after five games to next February’s knockout round. Read on to see who could be joining them and which players have lit up the tournament so far.
Undefeated Paris Saint-Germain and Arsenal top Group A with 11 points, but it’s PSG at the summit because they’ve scored more goals away from home in the two draws with The Gunners. Arsenal now need the French champions to drop points at home to Ludogrets on 6 December and then better that result in Basel to finish group leaders. It would take the bravest of Arsenal fans to take that champions league bet. Ozil, Walcott and Sanchez have already scored nine goals between them for Arsene Wenger’s side but PSG’s Edinson Cavani has netted five to sit second in the scoring charts this season.
All eyes will be on Benfica’s game with Napoli in Lisbon, where a draw will be enough to take Rui Vitoria’a team through. Benfica top the pile at the moment with the Italians second. It that match does end all square, the door would be open for Besiktas to steal second place if they win at Dynamo Kiev. The group’s dangerman is Benfica star Eduardo Silvio. He scored his team’s winning penalty against Dynamo on match day five, his third strike of the season, and also has four assists to his name.
Barcelona have this group in the bag thanks to four wins and just one defeat. Those dropped points came via Man. City’s incredible 3-1 victory over them at The Etihad. City have secured the runner-up place in Group C, so their final game at home to Celtic could see Kelechi Iheanacho make a rare start in attack. Celtic will prop up the group with Borussia Monchengladbach third. Once again Barca superstar Lionel Messi has been amazing, scoring nine goals in just five games. Watch out for Neymar, too, as he’s the assist king after setting up seven goals.
The only team with a perfect record in the Champions League is Atletico Madrid – five wins from five games and just one goal conceded. Incredible. The Spaniards, who were runners-up in 2014 and 2016, are bossed at the back by Diego Godin and spearheaded by France striker Antoine Griezmann. They’ve only scored seven goals but with their defence, who cares about that? Bayern Munich were well beaten into second place in Group D and will now face a tricky knockout tie against a group winner next February.
Tottenham fans had little to cheer about on their return to the Champions League after securing just four points from five games. The best they can hope for is to take something from their final game against CSKA Moscow and finish third to reach the Europa League. Monaco and Leverkusen will take first and second spot respectively in Group E. The French outfit are sharing the goals around, with Radamel Falcao, Thomas Lemer and Bernado Silva scoring two goals each.
There’s a couple of surprises in Group F. Firstly, Germans Borussia Dortmund currently lead it with 13 points, which is two more than reigning champions Real Madrid have. The La Liga leaders will be desperate to beat Dortmund at The Bernabeu on 7 December to top the group and get an easier knockout stage game, but they’ll be without the injured Gareth Bale. The second surprise is that Dortmund stuffed Legia Warsaw 8-4 on match day 5 in the highest-scoring Champions League game ever. Seven goals were rattled in in the first 22 minutes. Legia and Sporting Lisbon’s campaign is over and they won’t progress from the group.
Leicester may be struggling in the Premier League, but in the Champions League it’s a different story. Four wins and a draw has already given them 13 points and a route to the last 16. Riyad Mahrez is certainly enjoying the stage with four goals and an assist. If Porto lose against The Foxes on 7 December and FC Copenhagen beat bottom club Brugge, then the Danish outfit will march on in the tournament. It’s a tight one to call, but Leicester fans will be smiling whatever happens that night.
Juventus will be confirmed as group winners is they can get a victory over winless Dinamo Zagreb in Turin. The Italians hope £75 million star Gonzalo Higuain will be fit again to return to European action and add to his two goals from four games. Sevilla need just a point at rivals Lyon to finish second, but a win for the French would change all that. Wissam Ben Yedder looks like Sevilla’s best bet for goals having racked up two from three games so far.
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