After four matchdays in the Champions League, there is already clarification of what sides we will see take the field in the first knockout round. The reigning Champions, Real Madrid, secured their passage after beating Liverpool 1-0 at the Santiago Bernabeau. Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Paris Saint Germain, and FC Porto will join them. Of course, there are plenty of sides left that await their qualification into the next stage, so who stands the best chance of getting through?
From Group A, Atletico Madrid stand the best chance of coming out as Group Winners, having Olympiacos at home and Juventus away as the final two matchdays. They have the squad and experience necessary to see out sensible results within the last two games. For second place, Juventus would be the likelier to go through out of themselves and Olympiacos, even though both sides exchanged wins on matchdays 3 and 4. While Juventus have Atletico at home and Malmo away, Olympiacos has to go to Atletico Madrid hoping for a result. Juventus should just have enough quality to negotiate the final two legs, with Olympiacos falling to third place as a result.
There was never any doubt that Real Madrid would emerge victorious out of the group, claiming a 100% record through to the 4th matchday. For second place however, Liverpool have it all to do against the likes of Basel and Ludogorets, who have shown enough quality this season to upset the Reds’ hopes in the final two matchdays. Ludogorets arguably have Real Madrid their toughest game this season, while Basel had already beaten Liverpool at home. Liverpool themselves have been far from impressive this season, characterized by a misfiring strike force and as leaky defense as always. Basel have the capability can go to Anfield and match them toe-to-toe, and Ludogorets away for Liverpool isn’t going to be a cakewalk that some may seem. Basel of course, only need a draw to put them in prime position to advance, and with Liverpool’s shaky backline, its almost a certainty Basel will find the back of the net. Basel have the best chance of going through with Real Madrid to the next stage.
One of the most open groups in this year’s competition, Group C has seen German side Bayer Leverkusen climb to the summit of the table after their 2-1 win away at Zenit St. Petersburg. Having a four point cushion, Leverkusen have a clear advantage going into the last 2 matchdays. Monaco, who currently sit in second, should be the team that joins them in the Round of 16. They have only conceded one goal this season in the Cup, having conceded that one goal on Matchday four. However, the inconsistencies of Zenit and Benfica should ensure Monaco a place in the last 16.
Arsenal, even following a monumental collapse facing Belgian side Anderlecht at home, forfeiting a 3-0 lead at home to a 3-3 draw, should join German side Borussia Dortmund to the next round. Arsenal, who are second in the group with seven boys, have a five point lead over Anderlecht. They have a chance to wrap up the group against Dortmund at home and Galatasaray away, while the former isn’t guaranteed, the latter have been so woeful in Europe that anything other than a comfortable win would be seen as underwhelming for the Gunners’ perspective. For twice in a row in two years, Arsenal find themselves surviving the group second to Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester City may as well throw in the towel following a horrible performance on Matchday 4 against CSKA Moscow at the Etihad. Losing 1-2 while losing their midfield presence in Yaya Toure and Fernandinho to red cards have put them in the worst possible position. Their next game, against rampant Group winners Bayern Munich, would need perhaps one of the greatest performances the club has ever produced in order to keep their hopes alive. Even then, their fate is out of their hands, as CSKA Moscow, and Roma, the other team in the group have to play to a draw if City have any chance surviving the group stage. Meanwhile, Roma travels away to the Moscow, which that in itself, considering it being late November, won’t be an easy task (despite winning 5-1 at home against Moscow on matchday 1). However, they should have enough quality to get the required result. The stage would be set on Matchday 6 in Rome, where there is a distinct possible the 2nd position would hang in the balance between Roma and Manchester City. However, the group could already be decided by that time. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich have the luxury to sit and watch what happens to the rest of the group, having already won it, following their win against Roma on matchday 4.
Despite not booking their tickets early, Chelsea will be expected to remain undefeated in the last two matchdays, having enough quality to win both of them. It is most likely Schalke and Sporting Club to negotiate the second spot, with Maribor coming in for a shout. Schalke, alongside Chelsea, should be able to close out the group with their experience, despite playing the London side at home as one of the final two matchdays.
Finally, Group H looks to finish as how it exactly stacks up currently, with Porto and Shakthar Donetsk claiming the two seats for the final 16. Simply put, the other two sides in Bate Borisov and a very disappointing Athletic Club have been too woeful up to this point to override the momentum the Shakhtar Donetsk.
Football Editor for
Polish-American Portal www.Poland.us
More on: www.mikesgoal.com
Pozostałe wiadomości: SPORT
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