Halfway through the group stage of the UEFA Champions League, only three of the 32 teams left in this year’s competition have won all three of their matches to this point. Those three — Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund — represent three of the past four finalists, including the past two champions of the tournament. The other groups have developed varying degrees of hierarchy, with three teams sitting comfortably on seven points and four others knotted with six apiece. Let’s break down the state of each group at this point of the competition and project where the second half of the group stage might be headed.
Olympiakos knocked off Juventus at home to take the surprise position at the top of the Group A table after three matches. They are tied with Atletico Madrid on six points, five goals behind in goal differential but benefiting from a 3-2 head-to-head win over Atletico at home. They still have to play in Turin and Madrid, a hard test after winning both home matches and falling 2-0 in Sweden to Malmo.
Atletico has two away matches to play as well, at Malmo and at Juventus. Beating the Swedes 5-0 at home will give the Spaniards confidence on the turnaround, and they should be able to claim a spot in the next round after reaching last year’s final. The wild-card is Malmo, which could throw a wrench into the competition if they can keep winning at home. Should they upset either Atletico on November 4 or Juventus on November 26, the door stays open for a tense finish.
PREDICTED FINISH: Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Olympiakos, Malmo
Real Madrid continues to be undefeated in its defense of the club’s 10th European title after going to Liverpool and knocking off the Merseysiders 3-0 on a goal from Cristiano Ronaldo and a brace by Karim Benzema. Real, despite shaking up its lineup in the World Cup aftermath, continues to roll along confidently through an overmatched group.
The real question is which team wants to steal away the second spot in Group B. Real is already six points ahead of the other trio in the group, which have all lost to the Spanish side and split their other matches against one another. FC Basel still has two home matches to play against one each for LIverpool and Ludogorets, but need to recover ground in goal differential to move up from the bottom of the table.
PREDICTED FINISH: Real Madrid, FC Basel, Liverpool, Ludogorets Razgrad