Takeaways From Champions League Matchday 5
Usually, Matchday 5 in Champions League group stage play represents the matchday where a number of questions are answered as to which teams will likely qualify for the Round of 16. While Matchday 5 did answer some of those questions, there will still be many more left to answer on Matchday 6 in two weeks.
Group F has lived up to its billing as the Group of Death as Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, and SSC Napoli have all taken turns beating each other and beating up on Olympique Marseille. On Tuesday, Arsenal took another step to sealing their qualification into the Round of 16 as they beat Marsielle 2-0, while Dortmund took a step towards potentially also joining Arsenal in the Round of 16 by beating Napoli 3-1 at home.
As we head into the final matchday in this group, Arsenal are assured of qualification so long as they avoid losing by a goal margin of three or more against Napoli. Meanwhile, Napoli need to beat Arsenal and will hope that Marsielle can prevent Dortmund from winning in order to advance instead of heading into Europa League play. Watching games in this group has been absolutely fun, and the final two on Matchday 6 will certainly be must-watch games given what’s still at stake.
In other action on Tuesday, the team joining FC Barcelona in the Round of 16 from Group H will be determined at the San Siro in two weeks as both AC Milan and Ajax won their respective games on Tuesday. Milan are second with eight points, while Ajax are a point behind. While Milan are the favorites to go through, anyone who has followed them this season knows that it is not entirely out of the realm of possibility that they could lose to Ajax.
In Group A play on Wednesday Manchester United secured qualification with a 5-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen in a game that they finally “finished off” when they had the chance to do so. In Group C play, Paris Saint-Germain sealed qualification with a 2-1 win against Olympiacos.
With Benfica defeating Anderlecht 3-2 thanks to a late goal, Olympiacos and Benfica are tied in second on seven points, but Olympiacos has the edge given they have the better goal differential.
In Group B play, Real Madrid proved that they are still a lethal team even without Cristiano Ronaldo as they thrashed Galatasaray 4-1 in a performance that just confirmed their qualification into the Round of 16 with the top spot in the group. In addition, it was a display which showed that they, along with Bayern Munich, have been playing the best of all the teams so far through five matchdays.
Finally, Juventus took a step towards qualifying to the Round of 16 as they beat FC Copenhagen 3-1, with Arturo Vidal scoring all three for Juventus to send them to second on six points. All Juventus must to do is avoid defeat on the final matchday to secure qualification, which looks likely.