We’re about to reach the halfway point in this season’s Champions League group stage, and already, there have been plenty of shocks and surprises. It’s all very open with four matches left to play – and match day three takes place over the course of November 3-4. While it’s still too early to really take note of the favourites in the latest Champions League odds, let’s take a look at the major talking points in each group.
It’s no real surprise that Bayern Munich are top of the table, with a 100% record so far. Last year’s winners will be looking to replicate their achievements of last season, as they became the first and only club to win the Champions League, after recording a clean sweep in the group stages. Hans-Dieter Flick’s side face bottom of the table RB Salzburg next.
Shakhtar Donetsk sprung a surprise on match day one, as they went three goals up against Real Madrid and held on to win 3-2. After drawing against Inter Milan in the second match, the Ukrainians top Group B. At the foot of the table are the Spanish giants, but with four matches to go, there’s still plenty of time to propel up the table – and with just three points separating top from bottom, it’s all to play for!
Manchester City were the favourites to progress from their group and they’re living up to expectations, with two wins from two matches so far. After reaching the quarter-finals for the last three seasons, will this be the year that Pep Guardiola’s side go all the way, or at the very least, finally reach the semis?
One of the ‘groups of death’ when the draw was made, Group D isn’t proving as tight as it was predicted. Many thought it would be a battle between Liverpool, Atalanta and Ajax to progress to the knockout stages, but the Dutch side are yet to win a group game. Liverpool are one of three Premier League sides with a 100% record in the competition, while Atalanta, who were last year’s surprise package, remain unbeaten thus far. It could end up being a two-horse race.
It was always likely that Chelsea and Sevilla would progress from Group E, but who finishes top is still anyone’s guess. After the pair played out a 0-0 draw in their opening match, they’ve both gone on to win their second game. It could be that their reverse fixture is the decider, with Krasnodar and Rennes purely making up numbers. Those two will certainly have a battle between them, for a place in the Europa League knockout stages.
Group F is already proving to be a close one, and it’s a surprise to see Borussia Dortmund so far down in the standings. The Bundesliga club lost heavily to table-toppers, Lazio on match day one. Lazio currently sit 12th in the Serie A table, so it could be that they’re planning on a decent run in the Champions League this campaign.
Another of the groups to have a fairly predictable outcome – you can’t look past Barcelona and Juventus to excel. Juventus, without Cristiano Ronaldo, lost out to the Catalans in their last outing, but are still expected to reach the knockout stages. Barça are the joint top scorers so far, and while their performances domestically leave much to be desired, it’s about time they asserted themselves on Europe’s biggest stage again.
It could have been another potential banana skin – with last year’s runners-up Paris Saint-Germain, as well as RB Leipzig and Manchester United all battling for a place in the top two and progression to the knockout stages. United have been in impeccable form, winning two out of two, and scoring seven goals in the progress. Their recent 5-0 annihilation over RB Leipzig was certainly a surprise, and it’s clear that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side fear no one.