And finally, the group stages of the UEFA Champions League are over. There were plenty of calculations about qualifications. Lots of ifs and buts were going on before the last game-week kicked off on Tuesday. And now, here we stand. After 16 intense games, we have got those sixteen teams which have made it to the second round of the European competition.
At first, let us take a look at the list of teams who made it to the next round and who were knocked out.
|Group||Teams proceeding to 2nd round||Teams got knocked out|
|A||Real Madrid, PSG||Shakhtar, Malmo|
|B||Wolfsburg, PSV||Manchester United, CSKA Moscow|
|C||Atletico Madrid, Benfica||Galatasaray, Astana|
|D||Manchester City, Juventus||Sevilla, Borussia Mönchengladbach|
|E||Barcelona, Roma||Bayer Leverkusen, BATE|
|F||Bayern Munich, Arsenal||Olympiacos, Dinamo Zagreb|
|G||Chelsea, Dynamo Kiev||Porto, Maccabi Tel Aviv|
|H||Zenit, Gent||Valencia, Lyon|
Let us now see what happened to the individual groups.
Real Madrid and PSG already made it to the next round. And the last match was entirely meaningless for all the teams in this group. The Spanish Giants capitalized on this opportunity and recorded highest ever Champions League win. Cristiano Ronaldo scored 4 goals and helped Real Madrid win 8-0 against a hapless Malmo. On the other hand, PSG defeated Shakhtar 2-0 at home and boosted their confidence for the next round.
This was probably the most interesting group of the lot. Having CSKA already out of the competition, the competition was wide open for the other three teams. And it was a roller-coaster ride throughout the ninety minutes. Manchester United scored an early goal to take the lead that would have helped them qualify. However, Wolfsburg soon took a 2-1 lead and that would have sent PSV through. Later in the second half, PSV conceded while United equalized and the tables were turned. Eventually, PSV scored two late goals and Louis Van Gaal’s men conceded another to end this year’s Champions League campaign. The German and the Dutch sides qualified from this group.
This was also an already-decided group. Atletico Madrid and Benfica qualfied to the next round before they locked horns in the last group league match. Whoever wins, becomes the group champions – that was the equation. And the Spanish team emerged victorious in the end. Their 2-1 win took them to the top of the table. In the other match, Galatasaray and Astana drew level to end this year’s Champions League run.
Unlike their city rivals, Manchester City finished the group stage, staying on top. They took on Borussia Mönchengladbach in the last match. After scoring an early goal, they conceded twice and were trailing 1-2 at the break. However, an awesome comeback in the second half saw them score three goals and they finished one point above Juventus. The Italian superpower suffered a shock 1-0 defeat against Sevilla, who will be playing Europa League once again.
With thirteen points from the first five matches, Barcelona already went to the next round from this group. But the competition was intense among the other three teams. Roma took on BATE while Bayer Leverkusen were playing against the Catalan side. Both the games ended in stalemate and Bayer and Roma finished with 6 points while BATE got only 5. Although Bayer had a better goal difference, a head-to-head record saw Roma through. It was quite a lucky day for the Italian club!
Another interesting group of this year’s Champions League was this one! While Bayern Munich had already qualified, it was a race between Arsenal and Olympiacos. The Greek club was in a much more advantageous position. In a home game against Arsenal, they only had to avoid a 2-goal-defeat. However, Olivier Giroud thought otherwise. A hat trick from the French striker took his team to the next round. In the other match, Bayern defeated Dinamo 2-0. Robert Lewandowski scored both the goals.
Dynamo Kyiv and Porto both had chances to move ahead. But, Chelsea stopped Porto from doing so. The Blues won it 2-0 while Dynamo defeated Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv by the narrowest of margins. After a disastrous league game last week, it was an inspiring performance from Jose Mourinho’s men.
Zenit St Petersburg and Gent were the top two teams from this group. The Russian club won all their previous matches and with 15 points, secured the top spot. Gent were at 7 points while Valencia had 6 points. Valencia had a better opportunity since they were facing Lyon. But, the Spanish club could not capitalize on the chance. Both the clubs had home games this week. Gent took the advantage and defeated Zenit 2-1 while Valencia was crushed 0-2 by Lyon.
That’s all from the UEFA Champions League group stage. Which team are you going to support in the next round?
Photo by Ronnie Macdonald