Monday, November 05, 2007

Champions League Group Stage

Seeing as we're halfway through the Champions League group stage, I thought I'd take a look at the standings and the upcoming matches, and try to figure out if Liverpool have a hope in hell of qualifying for the next round. And having done that, I figured I might as well go through the rest of the groups as well. So here you go:

Group A
Marseille W2, D1, L0; 7 pts
Porto W1, D2, L0; 5 pts
Besiktas W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Liverpool W0, D1, L2; 1 pt

Basically: yes, Liverpool do still have a chance, despite only having one measly point so far. But they need to win all three of their remaining games, and hope that some other results fall their way. (I haven't tried to work out all the permutations, because they make my head hurt.) They do have the advantage of two home games coming up, against Besiktas and then Porto, and then maybe they can hope that Marseille will have already qualified and will put out a weakened team in their last game. But none of it will matter if they can't beat Besiktas at Anfield tomorrow.

Group B
Chelsea W2, D1, L0; 7 pts
Rosenborg W1, D1, L1; 4 pts
Valencia W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Schalke W1, DO, L2; 3 pts

Chelsea's position at the top of the table isn't entirely secure, especially with two away games (against Schalke and Rosenborg) coming up next, but I expect them to pick up enough points anyway. Valencia haven't been doing particularly well so far, but I expect them to be the second team from this group, with Ronald Koeman brought in as the new coach to shore things up, plus the advantage of two home games before they travel to Stamford Bridge for their final match.

Group C
Real Madrid W2, D1, L0; 7 pts
Olympiakos W1, D1, L1; 4 pts
Werder Bemen W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Lazio W0, D2, L1; 2 pts

Real Madrid are in basically the same position as Chelsea, in terms of results so far and games coming up, and like Chelsea, I expect them to pick up the points they need. The second team is harder to predict, but I'd say that Olympiakos may have the best odds -- we'll have to see what kind of performance they turn in when Real Madrid visit this week. Lazio and Werder Bremen, meanwhile, meet in Rome, with both teams really needing a win, but the Germans will be hampered by the absence of captain Torsten Frings, out until the New Year with injury.

Group D
AC Milan W2, D0, L1; 6 pts
Shakhtar Donetsk W2, D0, L1; 6 pts
Benfica W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Celtic W1, D0, L2; 3 pts

It's a top-of-the-table battle between Shakhtar Donetsk and Milan this week; a win for either team would give them one foot in the knockout round. Milan have been wildly inconsistent so far this season -- one week they're thumping Sampdoria 5-0, the next week they're grinding out a scoreless draw with Empoli -- so it's almost impossible to know which team will turn up in the Ukraine tomorrow. Celtic, meanwhile, will be hoping that their good form at home continues when they face Benfica, with both teams desperate for a win.

Group E
Barcelona W2, D1, L0; 7 pts
Rangers W2, D1, L0; 7 pts
Lyon W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Stuttgart W0, D0, L3; 0 pts

Barcelona and Rangers face off again this week, after their scoreless draw in Glasgow; I expect the game at the Camp Nou to be a different story, with Barca out for revenge for Rangers' "anti-football." Lyon are at home to Stuttgart, who have yet to earn a single point in the competition, and a win for the French team -- who beat them 2-0 in Stuttgart last time -- would give them some much-needed points and put pressure on Rangers.

Group F
Man United W3, D0, L0; 9 pts
Roma W2, D0, L1; 6 pts
Sporting Lisbon W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Dynamo Kiev W0, D0, L3; 0 pts

Manchester United are firmly in control at the top of the group, and victory against group whipping boys Dynamo Kiev when they visit Old Trafford would secure their place in the next round. Roma face a tricky tie away to Sporting Lisbon, and will be without captain Francesco Totti; I wouldn't be surprised if second place in the group comes down to how these two teams do in their final round of games, when Roma will be at home to United and Sporting travel to the Ukraine.

Group G
Inter Milan W2, D0, L1; 6 pts
Fenerbahce W1, D2, L0; 5 pts
PSV Eindhoven W1, D1, L1; 4 pts
CSKA Moscow W0, D1, L2; 1 pt

Inter lost their opening match away to Fenerbahce but have done well since then and are currently on top of the group, albeit barely. Their home game against last-place CSKA Moscow should give them all three points. Fenerbahce also have a home game, against PSV, who've just lost their manager Ronald Koeman to Valencia, which gives the Turkish team a perfect opportunity to take advantage and stretch their one-point lead.

Group H
Arsenal W3, D0, L0; 9 pts
Sevilla W2, D0, L1; 6 pts
Slavia Prague W1, D0, L2; 3 pts
Steaua Bucharest W0, D0, L3; 0 pts

Arsenal are cruising after their 7-0 demolition of Slavia Prague last time out. They have to travel to Prague this week, but will still be expecting to win. Sevilla, in second place, are coming off a confidence-building defeat of Real Madrid at the weekend, but they face an away game in Romania, are dealing with some injuries and have a new coach to consider, after Juande Ramos left for Tottenham. If they fail to win against last-place Steaua Bucharest, their fate could come down to Slavia v Sevilla on Matchday 6.

1 comment:

weenie said...

8-0! Not safe yet but fab! :-)