By: Dylan Moore
Group A: Looking at the standings in this group, you would be initially surprised. But anyone who has watched this group knows Napoli’s undefeated record is no fluke. After a 3-0 thrashing of Liverpool, Napoli showed their true intent in this group stage. The Italian team has taken Europe by storm, along with their new star Georgian player, Khvicha Kvaratskhelia.
As for the rest of the group, things are going as expected. Aside from the previously mentioned loss to Napoli, Liverpool has dominated the ties as expected. Meanwhile, Ajax and Rangers have scrambled for the leftover points, Ajax obtaining the lone win in a 4-0 destruction on Rangers.
Group B: On the note of surprising group standings, here we have group B. Perennial bottom 3rd & 4th place CL group finishers Club Brugge have put in a great shift this UCL season, topping their group with 10 points.
To the surprise of many, it’s Porto and not Atletico Madrid that are in second place. Not surprising to anyone, is Leverkusen’s last place standing, given their poor form all season. New manager Xabi Alonso hopes to change the seemingly doomed fate of the German side. As things stand, second place is anyone’s game.
Group C: This year’s group of death has been fascinating yet unsurprising, as these groups always seem to be. The ever unfortunate Viktoria Plzen is yet to even get a point, as European juggernauts Bayern Munchen are yet to drop any.
The only surprising result thus far is Barcelona’s underperformance. They have been unable to get a win against Inter, regardless of their impressive additions in the recent transfer window. Inter looks to hang on to the 2nd spot as Barcelona faces the daunting task of playing Bayern yet again.
Group D: This group has been in utter chaos. With the amount of games left, any team could end up in any position. Aside from Tottenham coming out to lead the group after a rocky start, there are yet to be many storylines besides the even-matched teams thus far.
Group E: On the note of close groups, we have group E. The 2020 champions sit atop the group with 7 points, but RB Salzburg are very close behind. This is yet another group where any team could finish anywhere. This is surprising, considering the reputation of both Salzburg and Zagreb to finish in the lower 2 spots of the group regularly.
Group F: The last UCL group is seemingly set up for reigning champions Real Madrid to easily qualify for the round of 16. Whether or not you believe this, they are certainly taking advantage of their easier group. Although this group is rather bland, Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk had an electric game this last matchday, with a bloodied-up Antonio Rudiger scoring a last minute header.
Group G: The story from this group has been Erling Haaland playing his old team. His wonder goal against Borussia Dortmund has propelled City to a much-expected first place in the group. Rounding out this rather uneven group is Sevilla and Copenhagen, who have both underwhelmed as expected.
Group H: This group raises many eyebrows. Initially, you are attracted to fallen giant Juventus with a measly 3 points sitting in 3rd. But the team that really deserves credit is Maccabi Haifa. The Israeli team managed to win 2-0 against Juventus in the most recent match.
All this being said, all credit to Benefica, who have really made this group competitive, due to powerhouse PSG’s mediocre performance.
In the vast majority groups, plenty is still at stake in these last 2 match weeks. Lots to look forward to as a fan of the game, with many surprise teams popping up to take advantage of their group, and many teams looking to surprise us still. Expect an article reviewing the group stage in the weeks to come.
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