Last week was a wild one on the biggest stage in European soccer. Here is a recap of the action-packed week in the Champions League group stage competition:
On October 22, Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) gave themselves a five-point cushion as the leaders of Group A with a 5-0 rout of Belgian side Club Brugge. The perennial French Ligue 1 winners exploded in the second half, and 20-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe scored a hat trick by the 83’ after having been subbed on only 30 minutes prior. PSG has set itself up to win the group, but have a history of falling apart in the later rounds to tougher competition. Time will tell if the side can overcome this trend of recent underachievement.
Over the past month or so, the Tottenham Hotspurs have had a run of poor play in the Premier League; a 7-2 drubbing by Bayern Munich on October 1 certainly did them no favors. However, the Spurs rebounded last week and took care of Serbian squad Crvena Zvezda, winning 5-0. Meanwhile, first place Bayern Munich remains undefeated in the group, with a goal differential of plus nine. After going a goal down early, the German powerhouse erupted for three unanswered goals and managed to hold on to win 3-2 over Olympiacos.
Manchester City has been simply
unstoppable over the past two years both, domestically and in the Champions League, and it is no surprise the team has started this year’s European campaign with three straight wins. English winger Raheem Sterling cannot stop scoring; he potted three goals in City’s 5-1 win over Italian side Atalanta on October 22. Behind City are Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk, each standing with four points apiece. The sides’ contest on November 6 will likely determine second place in the group and who will advance to the next round.
This group features an ongoing battle between Atlético Madrid and Juventus, two sides that each have lost in the Champions League Final twice since 2013. Atlético and Juve drew on Matchday 1 of the Group Stage back in September, and both took care of Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow to put them both at 2-0-1. Juventus has been Champions League Finals runner-up seven times, the most in tournament history, while Atlético Madrid is the only team in tournament history to appear in the finals three times and never win.
What were you doing when you were 19 years old? Well, 19-year-old Erling Haaland happens to be leading the entire tournament in goals, and is the first player in Champions League history to score six goals in his first three games. However, the Norwegian international can only do so much for his side RB Salzburg, which trails behind Napoli and reigning champion Liverpool in the group.
This group is the most hotly contested in the tournament, with Barcelona, Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund all vying for two spots to the next round. Inter Milan had a crucial 2-0 victory over Dortmund on October 23, with goals from Lautaro Martinez and Antonio Candreva. As the remaining Group Stage matches are played, this group should come down to the wire in determining which clubs advance.
Not only did RB Leipzig’s 2-1 victory over Zenit provide the soccer world with an incredible match, it also may have produced the goal of the year. Leipzig midfielder Marcel Sabitzer controlled an aerial pass from across the pitch with his chest, and sliced the ball on the half volley, curling it beautifully into the top left corner of the next. That technically brilliant strike proved to be the game-winner, and Leipzig sits atop the group with six points.
In last year’s tournament, nobody
expected Dutch side Ajax to pull off a run to the Champions League semifinal. Currently, they are tied with Chelsea for first place in the group with six points. On October 23, Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi scored in the 86’ to give Chelsea a 1-0 victory over Ajax. The two teams will battle for first in the group on November 6.