The curtain is closing on yet another year of Champions League group stage matches, and the time has come for the kid teams to head back home to their domestic leagues as the adults move on to play in the knockout stages. Today’s games will be finishing off the group stage for Group A, B, C, and D. Here’s what to expect:
In all honesty, it’s not even worth anyone’s time to comment on this group. Arsenal and PSG traded draws in their head-to-head matches and went on to beat down on the lowly Ludogorets and FC Basel teams that never stood a chance.
Prediction: Expect both PSG and Arsenal to win their games against Ludogorets and FC Basel, respectively, and PSG to win the group over Arsenal based on the 4th tiebreaker (most H2H away goals).
Group B is, for the sake of competition, the only group with a good dogfight in the cards as 3 teams head into the final match just 1 point apart. 3rd place team Besiktas has the advantage of taking on what has been a lackluster Dynamo Kiev team, but Dynamo has the advantage of playing at home in front of notoriously rowdy Ukranian fans, so this certainly shouldn’t be a cakewalk for the Turkish team. Meanwhile, Benfica will take on Napoli in Portgual and look to make up for the 4-2 loss they suffered to Napoli in Round 2.
Prediction: This group is a straight up coin flip, as we could truly see any combination of the top 3 teams could go through. If Besiktas goes down a goal early against Kiev don’t be surprised to see Benfica and Napoli ease up and play for the draw. If Besiktas takes the lead however, we should get some wide open attack-counterattack play in the Benfica v. Napoli game. All things considered, I think Napoli wins their game and wins the group with 11 points, followed by Benfica winning the 4th tiebreaker after Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev play to a draw.
Just like group A, there’s not much to see here. Barcelona has both advanced and won the group already, and even if the lose today Manchester City has already clinched the 2nd qualifying spot by way of tiebreakers against Borussia Monchengladbach.
Prediction: No predictions needed here really. Two or three goals from Messi against B. Monchengladbach, 10 shots sailed over the bar from Iheanacho for Manchester City, and a whole lot of self-inflection for recent goalscorer-turned-karate master Sergio Aguero.
Outside of a fluke 3-2 Bayern Munich loss to FC Rostov in Round 5, there are no other surprise in Group D. Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich are two of the front-runners to win it all, so all Rostov and PSV could do was pray that they didn’t get decimated on live TV in this group.
Prediction: Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid face off against each other today, and with both qualifying spots locked down already they’ll both just look to avoid injuries and maybe score a late game-winner for the highlight reel. I expect we’ll see both teams in the Round of 8 unless one of them draws Barcelona in the first knockout stage.