Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Champions League Group Stages: 4th round

Fourth matches of the 2010-2011 Champions League Group stages have just been played, and we are beginning to see the contours of each group.
  • Group A: Tottenham Hotspurs managed to defeat the defending champions of Inter Milan 3-1, and are now leading the group on better goal difference than the Italians. In the meantime FC Twente surprisingly won 0-2 away to Werder Bremen. They have five points, and if they manage to upset Inter in Milan in the next round, we would be looking at a sensation! Still, I believe Inter should carry the day in the end, and progress together with Tottenham (and wonderful to see an English team that is not Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool or Arsenal...).
  • Group B: In group B Olympique Lyon had been looking awesome with three straight wins until their match against a reawakened Benfica in this round. In an exciting match, the Portuguese won 4-3 and now has two wins, and it only one point behind German Schalke 04 on second spot, who disappointingly only managed 0-0 with Hapoel Tel Aviv (the Israeli's first point). Benfica will be facing the Israelis in the next round while Shalke will be hosting Lyon. But it all could come down to an exciting last round match in Lisbon between Benfica and Scalke 04!
  • Group C: Manchester United cruised through a 0-3 away victory to Turkish Bursaspor, and are now on first spot with 10 points, one victory away from making it to the next round. Their next match with take the Reds to Glasgow. Rangers will desperately be needing a victory after they lost 3-0 to Valencia, who seems heading steadily to second spot. However, note that with some strange results, we could be looking at a nervewrecking (for me) Manchester United-Valencia in the last round!
  • Group D: A major surprise in group D was that FC Copenhagen managed to get a 1-1 draw with mighty FC Barcelona. Copenhagen are now on second spot one point behind Barcelona with 8 points. Although Barcelona should be able to put through a first spot on the group, things are looking very good for the Danes who have Rubin Kazan away and Panathinaikos at home in their last two matches. These last two teams tied 0-0 in their encounter, and both seem poised for an early exit. But do not underestimate Rubin Kazan! (I am a Brøndby fan, and therefore I have very mixed feelings about Copenhagen. However, I have to congratulate all my FCK friends, in whose place I would love to be right now!)
  • Group E: Bayern Munich defeated CFR Cluj 0-4 away, and are with Chelsea the only team with four straight victories in the CL. In fact with today's victory, the chance of them not winning the group is very slim. This would have to happen by the hands of an AS Roma side that has not been convincing at all this season. They won 2-3 against Basel, but will have to defeat Bayern Munich and CFR Cluj by large margins if they are to take first spot. Although Roma seems in a better position, a defeat to Bayern Munich in the next match could mean that CFR Cluj and Basel could be playing for a possible second spot in the next round!
  • Group F: Chelsea is looking awesome this season, and with a 4-1 victory against Spartak Moscow took their fourth straight win. With a score of 12-2, and the way that they have been playing, it seems unlikely that Chelsea can be threatened on first spot. In the meantime, the fight seems poised for the second spot: Spartak Moscow remains there with six points, but Olympique Marseille took a huge jump on goals (before tonight they had only scored one in the three previous matches) by a 0-7 away win against pathetic Zilina. Next round, Marseille is travelling to Moscow to try to repeat Spartak's 0-1 victory in southern France. It will be a nerve-wrecking match. In the meantime Zilina, with four defeats and a score of 1-15 probably just want this to be over with. Just not good enough for this level!
  • Group G: Real Madrid was looking to completely close down the group in Milan, but in an exciting match they managed to equalize AC Milan's 2-1 lead in the last minute (where famous World Cup final referee, Howard Webb, had yet another match of controversial calls...). With ten points, Real Madrid are nevertheless certain to progress. AC Milan, on second spot with 5 points can theoretically threaten the Spaniards, but they should instead be looking behind them: Ajax Amsterdam are one point behind them, but only two points behind them French Auxerre came alive after defeating the Dutch side 2-1. Auxerre-AC Milan in the next round is bound to be interesting, as will Ajax-Madrid, as all three teams are fighting for the second spot!
  • Group H: Arsenal had three straight wins, and when going ahead early against Shakhtar Donetsk were looking for their fourth. However, the Ukranians, playing at home, fought back to win 2-1, and the top of the group is now looking very exciting, with Arsenal and Shakhtar both with 9 points, and Braga just behind them on third with six points after defeating Parizan Belgrade 0-1 in Belgrade. Braga started the tournament by losing 6-0 to Arsenal, but when they receive the English side at home in the next round, they are hopefully going to be better motivated, seeing that they can completely turn around the group. However, as both Shakhtar and Arsenal have one match each against the poor Partizan side, it is most likely that both of them will progress to the next round.
Some teams are already bound for the next round, some are out, but still need to fight to get there, and the coming matches will be much more exciting!

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