Mon, 04 Dec, 2023

UEFA Champions League: Top Teams Advance as Group Stage Ends

By Anish Thakuri

The group stage round of the World’s biggest club football competition came to an end this week with a glut of some exciting goals and results. As usual, the dominance of the top teams continued this season as well. All top flight teams of Europe managed to tap into the second round. This year, all of the four German teams successfully secured their spot in the last 16 for the second straight season, while three out of four who progressed are from England and Spain. The teams qualified as group winners from their respective groups are Athlecio Madrid, Real Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Chelsea and FC Porto whereas the teams like Juventus, Basel, Bayern Leverkusen, Arsenal, Manchester City, Paris St Germain, Schalke 04, Shakhtar Donetsk joined them as a runner ups. Holders Real Madrid maintained their 100% winning record with stunning 16 goals in Group B and remained a strong contender this season. Bayern and Barcelona also continued their impressive runs in their respective groups as both sides concede only a single loss. La liga Champions Athlecio Madrid also grabbed their position in last 16 in the second straight season.  Apart from Chelsea, English side journey hadn’t been fruitful as that of others. Five times European Champions Liverpool went forth empty handed and fell to Europa league berths, the 2nd tier of European club football competition finishing third in their group. Though Arsenal and Manchester City progressed, they failed to secure the top spot in their group what may result in the likes of European Giants facing them in last 16. French champions PSG and Italian Series A Champions Juventus also ended their group as runner ups. Though the German giant Borussia Dortmund are unexpectedly struggling in their national league, the 2013 finalists maintained their impressive performance in the champions league and made into the knockout stage as the group winner. Moving towards the individual performances, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo lead the chart. They are now first and second highest scorers respectively in the history of the Champions league with 75 and 73 goals. With the hat-trick against the Apole FC, Lionel Messi surpassed the record 71 goals of the former Spanish and Real Madrid forward Raúl González. Messi's total is now 75 goals in Champions league, including 8 in this campaign. Christiano Ronaldo also expanded his tally to 72 and became second highest scorer in Champions league, just 2 goals shy of Messi. Another name that deserves to be mentioned in this group stage is Luiz Adraino, the striker of Shaktar Donestk. The Brazilian has displayed outstanding performance in the league so far and is the leading scorer of running league with 9 goals. He has scored 5 goals against Bate Borisov and equalled the record of most goals in the single game previously set up by Messi in 2012.  Sergio Augero’s brilliant performance guided the English champions Manchester City to the second round. His hat-trick against the Bayern Munich was the turning point for the Manchester city. Some of the outstanding players are Robert Lewandoski & Mario Gotze from Bayern Munich, Karim Benzema from Real Madrid, Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard from Chelsea, Neymar from Barcelona, Huntelaar from Schalke 04. They have all made significant performances in the league so far. With this season heading towards the mid time and players preparing for the Christmas and winter-break in most of the leagues, the final 16 draw of Champions league has heated up the atmosphere. The final draw will take place on 15th January and the knockout round in home and away system will begin from February 17th, 2015. Enjoy football and support your team!