Tuesday’s Champions League Round-up: 4th December
With the Champions League‘s group stage reaching it’s final round of matches, Tuesday night saw groups A-D end, finally telling us the first eight of the last 16 in the next round. In addition, we found out which four groups finished 3rd in their groups thus making it into the Europa League, a mere consolation and perhaps even a hindrance on many clubs who’d rather focus on their domestic challenges.
French giants, Paris Saint Germain and 2004 competition winners FC Porto had both already qualified. But with the top position still to be decided their head-to-head final game decided the outcome. PSG grabbed a 2-1 win at home – a winner coming from Lavezzi after a goalkeeping howler, Helton. PSG’s win means they should avoid some the majority of European football’s big boys. Croatian’s Dinamo Zagreb‘s meaningless game vs Dynamo Kiev was disrupted through a mad snow storm in the 1st half before play finally resumed and finished 1-1. Kiev had already secured 3rd and will now play in the Europa League.
- PSG – 15 pts
- FC Porto – 13 pts
- Dynamo Kiev – 5 pts
- Dinamo Zagreb – 1 pt
Schalke and Arsenal had already secured qualification, so this Tuesday’s fixtures had the incentive of a 1st place up for grabs. Arsenal’s domestic priorities meant they traveled to Greek side, Olympiakos, with a weaker squad than usual. Though Arsene Wenger named 10 internationals in his starting 11, with one debut-an, left back, Jernade Meade. Arsenal had to win, and hope Schalke would slip up away at Montpellier. The German side were held to a 1-1 draw in France, but the Gunners miserably slumped to defeat in Greece despite a bright start. It’s another successful group stage for Arsenal but they now are lined up to face a group winner, possibly Barcelona.. again.
- FC Schalke – 12 pts
- Arsenal – 10 pts
- Olympiakos – 9 pts
- Montpellier – 2 pts
Malaga win the group with a nice gap of 4 points, after an impressive group stage. Their 1-1 draw at home to Anderlecht was meaningless with the positions in the table already decided. AC Milan, despite a late surge were shocked at home to Russian’s Zenit St Petersburg, the result 0-1. However, Milan already new that 2nd place was theirs.
- Malaga – 12pts
- AC Milan – 8 pts
- Zenit - 7 pts
- Anderlecht – 5 pts
The “Group of death” was always going to string a surprise but with Manchester City finishing bottom without a single win it’s a bigger surprise than we expected. The English champions had already been knocked out of the competition, so their trip to Borussia Dortmund meant they had a Europa League place to fight for. However, the German Champions’ played a weakened team, having already won the group and embarrassed Man City. 1-0. Questions will be asked though regarding Roberto Mancini‘s sides desire to play in the Europa League. Would it hinder their Premier League challenge due to the Thursday night fixtures? Either way, their group stage failures have been dire.
Real Madrid beat Ajax 4-1 at the Bernabau. Dutch side, Ajax can be proud of their efforts and have secured a Europa League place where they’ll now be a favorite. With the Galacticos 2nd in the group, a group winner could get a nasty tie in the last 16, that they were expecting to avoid; whilst Dortmund look like a real threat going into the latter rounds in 2013.
- Borussia Dortmund – 14 pts
- Real Madrid – 11 pts
- Ajax - 4 pts
- Man City – 3
Wednesday’s fixtures feature groups E-H, with several places in the Last 16 to decide – including reigning champions Chelsea and Italian champions, Juventus. Take a look at who needs what here.