The second bunch of the Champions League groups have now played half their matches. We take this moment to examine who’s hot and who’s not, taking into account both the teams’ current standing in the group as well as its form.
Hot: Bayern Munich
Fresh off a 7-1 win away at Roma, Munich now sit comfortably atop group E with 9 points and a 5 point lead. Pep Guardiola seems to have figured out how to get his stars to mesh together, which is a frightening thought when one considers they still have two games at home of their last three.
Not: Manchester City
City’s Champions League struggles continue. Following a demoralizing draw at home to Roma, they looked to pick themselves back up against CSKA Moscow. They seemed poised to do so, with a 2-0 lead until the 64th minute, when they conceded for the first time. They then allowed a controversial penalty to tie the score in the 86th. Although underperforming, City are still in a position to compete for the second spot in Group E.
Hot: FC Barcelona
While they sit in second place behind PSG, and already have lost to the Parisians, Barça is now in much better form than before. Messi and Neymar have continued their scintillating partnership, which should only grow more dangerous with the upcoming addition of Luis Suarez. PSG, on the other hand, struggled to win all three points away to APOEL.
This is perhaps the harshest of ‘Nots.’ To be totally fair, APOEL has done more than hold their own in this most top-heavy of groups. The Cypriots have only allowed one goal in each of their group matches, which include a game away at Barcelona. PSG only snuck by them on a late, sloppy winner from Edison Cavani.
Chelsea’s form in the British Championship seems to be carrying over into European play. Follow a draw at home to Schalke, Chelsea was able to scrape out a win away in Lisbon, and, most recently, put a pounding on Maribor. Look for them to continue their undefeated run for at least a couple more weeks.
After two shocking draws that seemed to give Maribor hope, they’ve certainly been brought back to earth following a 6-0 shelling at the hands of Chelsea. What’s worse, their next Champions League match is once again against the Blues, so they’ll likely have had to suffer two humiliating defeats in a row before their salvage efforts can begin.
Hot: FC Porto
The top two teams in this group played to a 2-2 draw and both beat down on BATE by at least a score of 6-0, so we must look to their overall records to differentiate between them. Although Porto’s 2-1 win over Atletico Bilbao is less eye-catching than a 7-0 win by Shakhtar Donetsk over BATE, it is more than Shaktar could manage against Bilbao, whom they tied 0-0.
Suffering a 6-0 loss is hard to overcome, and recovering from a 7-0 one on top of that is practically impossible. This has been the fate of BATE in the first half of Champions League group play. Fortunately for them, they managed to squeeze a win at home against Bilbao between the massacres. But, between the two teams least likely to pass on from the group stage, Bilbao at least can claim to have held on to some honor.
Photo: Wikipedia Commons