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Get Up to Date: Champions League ’15-16

November 10, 2015

Photo Credits: wikimedia user Jarke

The Champions League group stage is four games in, and there is excitement around (most) every corner. There have been lots of goals, lots of awesome saves, and a few surprises. The groups currently look like this:

Group A:

  1. Real Madrid (10 points)
  2. Paris Saint-Germain (7)
  3. Shakhtar Donetsk (3)
  4. Malmö FC (3)

Group B:

  1. Manchester United (7)
  2. PSV Eindhoven (6)
  3. VFL Wolfsburg (6)
  4. CSKA Moscow (4)

Group C:

  1. Benfica (9)
  2. Atletico Madrid (7)
  3. Galatasaray (4)
  4. FC Astana (2)

Group D:

  1. Manchester City (9)
  2. Juventus (8)
  3. Sevilla FC (3)
  4. Borussia Mönchengladbach (2)

Group E:

  1. Barcelona (10)
  2. AS Roma (5)
  3. Bayer Leverkusen (4)
  4. BATE Borisov (3)

Group F:

  1. Bayern München (9)
  2. Olympiacos FC (9)
  3. Arsenal FC (3)
  4. Dinamo Zagreb (3)

Group G:

  1. FC Porto (10)
  2. Chelsea FC (7)
  3. Dynamo Kyiv (5)
  4. Maccabi Tel-Aviv (0)

Group H:

  1. FC Zenit (12)
  2. Valencia CF (6)
  3. KAA Gent (4)
  4. Olympique Lyonnais (1)

For the most part, the groups are looking right about how we would have expected them to look. Real Madrid, Manchester United, Benfica, Manchester City, Barcelona, Bayern München, Porto, and Zenit top their groups. Everyone except Maccabi Tel-Aviv have been able to earn at least one point, and FC Astana (the first Kazakh team to play in the Champions League) has had a surprisingly good run, drawing twice – once against Atletico Madrid, and the other time against Galatasaray. Only FC Zenit has won all of their games so far. Real Madrid and Manchester City were the first to qualify for the round of 16, which will take place in February, and Bayern München, Olympiacos, Zenit, Porto, Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint Germain have the chance to move on to the Round of 16 in the next Matchday if they win their next game.

Best of the first 4 Matchdays:

Roma v Leverkusen: 4-4, 3-2

Roma versus Leverkusen is apparently a matchup of epic proportions. The first leg was on Matchday 3 in Leverkusen, and the hosts managed a two-goal comeback at the end of the game to scavenge a point. The game swung back and forth, with Leverkusen being up 2-0 in the 20th minute but conceding only nine minutes later, where De Rossi made it 2-1, and shortly afterwards scored another to make it 2-2. The beginning of the second half went Roma’s way, and it was 2-4 in the 73rd Minute. Leverkusen scored in the 84th and 86th minute to grab the point.

The second game took place in Rome, and it was another thrilling goal fest. Roma took the lead after just 100 seconds through Mohamed Salah, and Edin Dzeko made it 2-0 for the hosts in the 28th minute. The visitors fought back, and goals from Admir Mehmedi and Javier Hernandez made it 2-2 in the 50th minute. A red card following a hectic scene in the box was shown to Leverkusen’s captain Ömer Toprak in the 79th minute, and Roma was able to capitalize off the penalty. The game ended 3-2, and these two teams will have to fight for second place in their group.

Arsenal 2-0 Bayern München

Arsenal have been having a hard time in the group so far, having lost to both Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, but they did have a strong game in Matchday 3 versus Bayern München. Although they only had 31 percent of the possession, Arsenal played on the counter-attack, and took advantage of their opportunities. Olivier Giroud scored the opening goal in the 77th minute, and Mesut Özil scored the second in the fourth minute of extra time. Both Petr Cech and Manuel Neuer had outstanding moments in the match. Neuer had an amazing one-handed save to block Theo Walcott’s header, and Cech kept Bayern’s attack out for the whole game, proving his ability and letting Wenger know that he should be Arsenal’s number one in goal. This win allowed Arsenal to get back into the race for the Round of 16, although Bayern did make it harder for them in their 5-1 win in Munich in Matchday 4.

Who to watch during Matchdays 5 and 6:

Group B is going to be an exciting group to watch for the next two games, with all four teams having the possibility of making it to the next round. Manchester United will try to make up for dropped points to PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moscow, but Wolfsburg and Eindhoven will be doing their best to stop them.

Also, Chelsea will try to make it to the Round of 16 in Group G, but they have to get past their slump in league play and get through Porto and Maccabi Tel-Aviv first.

Arsenal will also be trying to pull itself into the next round, but their destiny is in the hands of Bayern and Olympiacos now. Arsenal needs Bayern to beat Olympiacos on Matchday 5 and at the same time they need to beat Dinamo Zagreb. Then, Arsenal needs to beat Olympiacos on Matchday 6. This result is certainly possible, but they need to be on their A game.

It will definitely be interesting to see how Group E plays out, and if both Roma and Leverkusen go through, or if Barcelona will be one of the two. Each team plays Barcelona and BATE Borisov once more, so they have the opportunity to control their own outcomes.

In any case, the next two Matchdays will be very exciting. We can expect some awesome and fingernail-biting minutes while watching the teams battle for spots in the Round of 16.

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