Posted in Champions League, football, sport

Champions League group stage review- what we learnt and what to expect in the knockout stages

Arsenal finally top their group

Well you could say it was truly a remarkable group stage campaign for Arsenal, who topped their group for the first time in over four years though they did have to rely on PSG to drop points at home to Ludogorets on the final matchday.

 When both PSG and Arsenal were drawn out of the hat, you obviously knew that the matches in Paris and London were going to decide who would turn out as the group winner. A late equaliser from Alexis Sanchez snatched Arsenal a 1-1 draw but when both teams returned to the Emirates later on, there was more meat and intensity between the teams to savour. Arsenal came from behind to lead 2-1 on the night but a late deflected header from Lucas ensured PSG would go top on goal difference as we headed into the final game. Luck was on the Gunners’ side as their wishes came true when Ludogorets somehow got a point in Paris and Lucas Perez’s hat-trick in Basel secured top spot. If Arsenal can keep their momentum and avoid a big team in the last 16, you could back them to go to the quarters if they keep their heads held high.

Leicester’s fairy tale continues…

When you first looked at Leicester’s group, you may have thought they had been given a lifeline being drawn in group containing Porto and the inexperience of Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen but it still took lots of hard-work and effort to top the group. This is the Champions League, the competition of Europe’s elite clubs, and what have Leicester done? Topped their group! One year ago would you ever have believed that Leicester could now being facing the likes of Real Madrid and Bayern Munich in the last 16. We have to be realistic though and remember where Leicester are and what they are capable of, so don’t hold too many high hopes for them.

Tottenham endure campaign to forget

Two stunning home losses to Monaco and Bayer Leverkusen was completely unacceptable especially when you were participating in the Champions League and you had to perform well in your home matches. What happened? We don’t know but we could see that from a Tottenham perspective that they clearly lacked on goals and were poor attacking-wise as the missed out on their match-winner Harry Kane through injury for the majority of their matches. Tottenham will now drop into the Europa League and based on last season I don’t think Pochettino will field a strong team because I think he will be more focused on finishing in the top-four.

Far from convincing but decent from City

They weren’t superb but they weren’t poor however Manchester City still managed to grab a runners-up spot in a tough group consisting of Barcelona, Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic. The highlight for City undeniably came in their famous 3-1 victory over European giants Barcelona but Lionel Messi’s hat-trick condemned City to a crushing 4-0 defeat at the hands of the five-time European champions in the reverse fixture. A 3-3 and a 1-1 draw against Celtic frustrated City but they managed to thrash Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 at home and grab a 1-1 draw in Germany. Man City have lots of options and are quite dominant in scoring goals but I think their defence is mostly fragile and I think that could prove a setback for them against the bigger teams.

3 thoughts on “Champions League group stage review- what we learnt and what to expect in the knockout stages

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