Now that we have reached November, we are 4 games in to the Champions League group stage and can already see who are the stronger clubs in the competition. At this moment in time, only three clubs have mathematically secured their place in the next round, and for some it will likely go down to the wire. This season’s competition has some real heavyweights competing for qualification, with some of them looking below par. The beauty of the structure of the competition is that third placed teams aren’t entirely out of European competition for the season, they just drop down into the Europa League. Fourth placed teams have a tougher time however, facing the prospect of being knocked out entirely! So who are the heavyweights that we can envision going all the way to the final? Find out below.
Liverpool are absolutely flying this term! Having won 4 games out of a possible 4, the Merseyside club have also scored 13 goals so far, averaging over 3 goals a game. This is a crazy feat considering the teams that Liverpool were matched with in their group! Debatably, Liverpool’s group was considered the ‘group of death’. The group features heavyweights Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and FC Porto. Atletico and Porto are reigning champions in their respective divisions, whilst Milan competed well last year and are certainly on the up. Despite this, Salah and co have only come out looking stronger! Criticized at the beginning of the year for a lack of investment compared to their rivals, the unity between the team has shone through and shown that spending really isn’t everything. Under Klopp’s leadership, this side could go the whole way.
One of the other sides to have qualified so far this term. Despite winning all four of their group stage games to achieve early qualification, Juventus have not been good this season. In Serie A they sit at 9th place, having won only 4 of their 11 league games so far. They currently sit 16 points behind league leaders Napoli and AC Milan, it seems like it will be a tough ask for Juventus to seriously compete for the title this year, never mind a top four finish! Despite this, they have been fairly solid in the Champions League. Having scored 9 goals in 4 games, only conceding 2 goals; we have to give Allegri’s side the credit they deserve. They don’t necessarily have the hardest of groups, but they did defeat reigning champions Chelsea, which we cannot ignore. Clearly struggling with the departure of top scorer Cristiano Ronaldo, if they can continue their Champions League form and be more consistent in the league, it could be a good year for them.
Bayern are flying in the Champions League this season! They have won four out of four, scored 17 goals and only conceded 2. This is an average of more than 4 goals a game, which is absurd! They are certainly looking like the most dangerous team in the competition this season. Polish striker Robert Lewandowski simply cannot stop scoring, he could put a ball past anyone. They have kept up this form in the league too, sitting in first place having won 8 out of 10. The only negative of their season so far would be the 5-0 mauling in the DFB-Pokal tournament, which surprised us all since they were playing a full strength side. They certainly bounced back immediately, however, and could definitely go all the way to the final.
Will this finally be City’s year? It would seem with their natural progression, and a slim loss in last years final, that this would be the year Pep has to win the competition. Generous investment has been spent in star player Jack Grealish and City have started off the season quite well, currently sitting in third in the league. With the stars at their disposal and a manger of the caliber of Pep Guardiola, this year has to be the year. So far they have won 3 out of a possible 4, only succumbing to a Lionel Messi inspired PSG; consistency is key, and if they remain consistent, there is no reason they can’t finally win the competition this season.
Another team that certainly has to go on and win this year. PSG have invested a lot into their current side and on paper it is probably the best side in the competition. A star attack featuring Lionel Messi, Neymar and Kylian Mbappe cannot be ignored and they should defeat anyone who comes into their path. PSG are always competitive in the league, since they are just a level above the rest. Despite this, lack of progress in Europe has seen many managers lose their jobs, and Pochettino is definitely in the spot light. We are sure Leo would appreciate another UCL trophy for his trophy cabinet, also.
A team in wishy-washy form, we have to mention United regardless. One thing in their favor is that football is unpredictable, anything can happen. The wildcard of the list, United seem to get by on moments of magic rather than tactical masterclass. A team that looks defeated can suddenly become victorious from a Cristiano Ronaldo volley, a Bruno Fernandes flick or an powerful blast from the full back positions. Surely this cannot carry them indefinitely. Right now however, it is hard to ignore the unpredictability of this team and it could surprisingly take them all the way. Any team with Cristiano Ronaldo leading the attack must be a serious contender, to be honest.