Champions League Matchday 6 is probably the most entertaining and at the very least the most intriguing of all the matchdays in group stage play as several teams enter the final matchday with a chance to qualify for the Round of 16. In some cases, teams control their own destiny while in other cases teams must win and then rely on results in another game going in their favor in order to ensure qualification into the Round of 16. With that in mind, Matchday 6 played out how many of us expected which is to say it was very entertaining.
In Tuesday’s action, Group A one spot was still up for grabs with the Ukrainian club Shakhtar Donetsk and German club Bayer Leverkusen fighting to join Manchester United in advancing. The Ukrainian club went into the game with a one point edge, but it needed to beat Manchester United in order to ensure qualification. Unfortunately for them they were unable to take advantage of early chances and fell 1-0 while Leverkusen took care of business by beating Real Sociedad 1-0 to finish second in the group.
In Group C play the question left to answer was who would finish second between Olympiacos and Benfica as both were tied with seven points with Oympiacos holding the edge in the tiebreaker due to goal differential. While Benfica took care of business in defeating group winners Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) 2-1, Olympiacos also took care of business by beating Anderlecht 3-1 thanks to two goals from ‘El Conejito’ Javier Saviola to advance to the Round of 16. While nothing was decided in Group D play as Bayern Munich and Manchester City both already qualified, they both faced off in a very entertaining game which Manchester City won 3-2 and came within a goal of winning the group.
In Group B, the game which most neutrals were excited to see had to be finished on Wednesday as a sudden snow and hail storm forced the Juventus and Galatasaray game to be abandoned after 31 minutes. It appeared as if Juventus would do enough to go through, but with five minutes left Wesley Sneijder scored to give Galatsaray the 1-0 win and send them through to the Round of 16 while sending Juventus to Europa League play. In other Wednesday play, Chelsea ensured first in Group E with a 1-0 win while they will be joined in the Round of 16 by Schalke 04 who defeated FC Basel 2-0 to take second in the group.
In Group G play, Atlético Madrid were already through as group winners while Zenit St. Petersburg headed into the final matchday in second on six points with Porto third one point behind and needing a win and a Zenit loss to advance. While Zenit lost 4-1 to Austria Wien, Porto failed to hold their end with a 2-0 loss to Atlético Madrid. In Group H, a similar situation played out as thanks to a hat-trick from Neymar, FC Barcelona secured first in the group with a 6-1 win over Celtic. In the other game of the group, AC Milan did enough to advance as they drew 0-0 against Ajax despite playing for most the of the game with 10 men after a dumb foul by Ricardo Montilivo.
Finally, Group F wrapped up action in the most appropriate manner as both games were wild and highly entertaining. Arsenal entered the final group game needing a win, draw, and or a loss by no more than two goals to secure qualification with Borussia Dortmund needing a win and SSC Napoli needing a win and help or win by three goals or more to advance. Napoli ended up beating Arsenal 2-0 in a second half which was intense for fans of both teams, but it was not enough for Napoli as the Dortmund defeated Olympique Marseille 2-1. As a result, Dortmund advance as group winners while in a cruel twist, Napoli are the first team to be eliminated from the group stage under the current format who won 12 points during group play.