Half of the spots in the Round of 16 may be filled this Tuesday and Wednesday if the results are right for the potential candidates. Upsets, surprises and big wins have been trending in the last 10 days in domestic football, and when that happens, it usually reflects in the UCL. While it seems difficult to expect a different outcome in MD-4 compared to MD-3, some clubs are prone to complacency, some swing real home-field advantage, and key-player availability may have changed.
The featured matches in MD-4 are the same as MD-3. In the group of death, Dortmund hosts Newcastle looking for to repeat the win earned on the road, while PSG travels to Milan to administer the coup de grâce upon Milan.
Eyes will be turned toward Arsenal to see the Gunners rebound from the 0-1 weekend loss to Newcastle when they host Sevilla. Eric Ten Hag marches to Denmark for probably his final chance? (If only I had a beer token for each time I wrote that this season...).
Bayern (9 points) - Galatasaray (4 points) - Man United (3 points) - Copenhagen (1 point)
Bayern took its time to overcome Galatasaray in Turkey in MD-3 to continue the group stage winning streak. Since then, Bayern defeated Mainz 3-1 and Dortmund 4-0 in Bundesliga, but the German juggernaut was knocked out of the cup at the hands of FC Saarbrucken (from what I gather, a 5th tier club). Tuchel looks to secure immediate qualification so he can focus on a domestic rising star called Leverkusen.
Opponent Galatasaray retained Turkey’s domestic league top spot with two consecutive victories, 1-0 against Rizespor and 2-1 against Kasmpasa.
Denmark champion Copenhagen hosts Man United in an important match for second place in group A. Copenhagen played three matches since the defeat at Old Trafford, winning 4-0 over Hvidovre, 1-0 over Midtjyland, and (Sunday) 2-4 at Randers to retain the Danish Superliga table top spot ahead of UCL MD-3.
Visiting Man United was hammered 0-3 twice at home by Man City and Newcastle before goal in the 91st minute secured a difficult 1-0 win over mid-table Fulham on Saturday. The Red Devils sit 8th in the EPL, 9 points off the lead, which could expand to 11 if Tottenham defeats Chelsea on Monday.
Arsenal (6 points) - Lens (5 points) - Sevilla (2 points) - PSV (2 point)
PSV held Lens to a 1-1 draw in MD-3 to allow Arsenal to go top by defeating Sevilla 2-1. Arsenal has the advantage, able to break away with another victory over Sevilla in MD-4 in London. Arsenal thrashed Sheffield 5-0 after returning from Spain, but then complacency or bad form seems to have struck the team. An entertaining West Ham knocked Arsenal out of the Carabao Cup 3-1 while Newcastle halted Arsenal’s league progress 1-0 on Saturday.
Opponent Sevilla must return from London with at least a point to keep a realistic chance to qualify. The Spaniards have been avoiding defeat since MD-3, drawing twice in La Liga: 2-2 against Cadiz and 1-1 against Celta Vigo. They progressed in Copa del Rey by defeating Quintanar de la Orden 3-0.
Lens and PSV Eindhoven both look to break through the MD-3 stalemate to gain a qualification advantage. PSV hosts in MD-4 after a strong domestic displays: defeating Ajax 5-2 and Heracles 6-0 to extend the Eredivisie points gap over second place Feyenoord to 7 points.
The French opponent Lens defeated Nantes 4-0 domestically but was held to a goalless draw away from home by Lorient. The domestic performance for Lens is far from what it was last season, sitting 9th, 11 points off PSG’s lead.
Real Madrid (9 points) - Napoli (6 points) - Braga (3 points) - Union Berlin (0 points)
Both Group-C qualifying contenders Real Madrid and Napoli successfully defeated Braga and Union Berlin 2-1 and 1-0 respectively in MD-3, but the results were not decisive. A couple of points may easily drop in the return legs of MD-4. Real Madrid played only El Clásico since MD-3, and Jude Bellingham’s two goals in the win over Barcelona are all over the media. The royal club is in a catch up game behind unlikely table leader Girona.
Right after MD-3, opponent Braga drew with Vicente 3-3 in the domestic league and then defeated Portimonense 6-1 to end up in 4th place in the Portuguese Liga.
Since MD-3, last season’s Italian powerhouse Napoli was held to a 2-2 draw by AC Milan before defeating Salernitana 2-0 to maintain a top-4 spot in Serie-A. Napoli hosts German outfit Union Berlin in the early time slot Wednesday.
The struggling Germans were defeated by Werder Bremen 0-2 then went on to be knocked out of the domestic cup 1-0 at the hands of Stuttgart, and on Saturday lost 0-3 to Frankfurt. Berlin is now in a relegation spot in Bundesliga with only two victories against eight losses.
Real Sociedad (7 points) - Inter (7 points) - Salzburg (3 points) - Benfica (0 points)
Inter Milan can secure a spot in the Round of 16 with a repeat win over Salzburg, while Real Sociedad might secure a spot with a win, but only if Inter does win over Salzburg. Inter secured important 1-0 and 2-1 Serie-A victories against Roma and Atalanta respectively to extend the league lead to five points.
Host Salzburg also won three victories since MD-3, defeating Altach 3-0 and Tirol 2-0 in the league as well as defeating Hartberg 5-4 in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw in the domestic cup. Salzburg sits atop the Austrian league with a 2-point lead.
Real Sociedad added to Benfica’s woes in MD-3, defeating them 0-1. Now the Spanish side hosts the Portuguese outfit in MD-4 for a chance to lock down a Round of 16 spot. Real Sociedad slid four points in two matches in La Liga, drawing 2-2 with Rayo Vallecano and losing 0-1 to Barcelona. They progressed in Copa del Rey with a difficult 1-0 victory against Bunol. The Spanish outfit is in a Europa League qualification spot (6th) in La Liga after 12 rounds.
Benfica defeated Chaves 2-0 and drew 1-1 with Casa Pia in domestic action. Benfica is jointly first with Sporting CP, but the latter holds one match in hand.
Feyenoord (6 points) - Atletico (5 points) - Lazio (4 points) - Celtic (1 points)
In MD-3, Celtic held Atletico Madrid to a 2-2 draw in Glasgow to allow Feyenoord to jump to top spot by defeating Lazio 3-1. Celtic will try to capitalize on the self-made opportunity when visiting Atletico in MD-4 to throw the qualification theories of this group into chaos.
The Scots sit comfortably atop the Scottish Premiership table, 8 full points ahead of Rangers and able to focus 100% on UCL. Despite being held to a draw by Hibernian after MD-3, the leaders went on to defeat St. Mirren 2-1 and Ross County 3-0. Host Atletico is trying to keep up with La Liga powerhouses and Girona. The Spanish side made strong progress in the last two matches winning 2-1 against Deportivo Alaves and Las Palmas.
Lazio was caught off guard in the Netherlands in MD-3 so will look to return the favor to visiting Feyenoord in MD-4. Lazio took six of six points since MD-3, defeating both Fiorentina and Bologna by the same 1-0 score to keep clean sheets in two consecutive matches. Lazio will be caught off guard again at home if distracted by the upcoming derby match with Roma coming a few days later. Lazio sits 8th in Serie-A, two points below European football qualifying spots.
Opponent Feyenoord is struggling to keep up with domestic league leading PSV. The 1-2 loss to Twente right after MD-3 added to the gap before a win over Waalwijk 2-1 on Saturday.
PSG (6 points) - Dortmund (4 point) - Newcastle (4 points) - Milan (2 points)
PSG’s 3-0 hammering of Milan and Dortmund’s important 1-0 win over Newcastle in MD-3 caused PSG to jump from third to first, Dortmund from last to second, Newcastle from first to third and AC Milan from third to last.
Newcastle was not majorly affected by the defeat at home, collecting four points in EPL by drawing 2-2 with Wolves and defeating Arsenal 1-0. In addition, the Magpies knocked out struggling Man United from the cup with a 3-0 victory. Newcastle is currently 6th in EPL, seven points behind Man City.
Opponent Borussia Dortmund dropped five vital points in Bundesliga since MD-3, drawing 3-3 with Frankfurt and losing 0-4 to Bayern to remain in 4th, seven points behind top club Leverkusen. The Germans advanced in the domestic cup by defeating Hoffenheim 1-0.
The second match in the group of death may potentially be the last straw Italian side AC Milan. Like Dortmund, Milan dropped five vital points in Serie-A by drawing 2-2 with Napoli and losing 0-1 to Udinese on Saturday. The leakage of points helped city-rival Inter to break away to a 5-point lead after 11 rounds.
Milan’s opponents PSG maintained a special 5-match streak of scoring three goals per match in all competitions. The Parisians defeated Stade Brestois 3-2 and Montpellier 3-0 to take over the top spot temporarily until Nices’ fixture in GW-11.
Man City (9 points) - RB Leipzig (6 points) - Crvena zvezda (1 points) - Young Boys (1 points)
Man City and RB Leipzig defeated Crvena (Belgrade) and Young Boys 3-1 in MD-3 and will look to repeat to secure the two qualifying spots from Group-G. Man City started a new winning streak since the 0-1 defeat to Arsenal so will aim for a fifth win when hosting Young Boys. Man City defeated Man United 3-0 and Bournemouth 6-1 to overtake Spurs’ EPL top spot pending the latter’s London derby match with Chelsea on Monday.
The Swiss champions Young Boys were held to a draw by Lugano in the domestic league before progressing in their domestic cup by defeating Rapperswil 2-0. On Saturday, they defeated Winterthur 4-1 in preparation to travel to Manchester.
RB Leipzig’s time since MD-3 included two Bundesliga victories against Kol 6-0 and Mainz 2-0, but the Germans were knocked out of the domestic cup at the hands of Wolfsburg with an early goal. Leipzig will travel to Serbia to face Crvena Zvezda (Redstar Belgrade) to possibly book a spot in the Round of 16.
Belgrade collected seven points from nine in the Serbian domestic league to reduce the gap behind table leader Partizan Belgrade to three points temporarily. As one of the competition debutants this season, Crvena is still looking for a first ever UCL win.
Barcelona (9 points) - Porto (6 points) - Shakhtar Donetsk (3 points) - Antwerp (0 points)
Group H is bound for an expected conclusion with Barcelona and Porto occupying the qualification spots. Shakhtar Donetsk has in recent years delivered upsets to major clubs such as Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Hosting Barcelona will be their chance for a repeat upset as well. In preparation, they defeated Mykolaivka 3-0 and Dynamo Kyiv 1-0 in domestic football to maintain a challenging spot for the league table.
Barcelona’s La Liga campaign was blunted by Real Madrid through a 1-2 loss at the hands of Jude Bellingham. The Catalan club recovered afterwards with an important away 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad to remain in third place, four behind city (rivals?) Girona.
Porto made it look easy in MD-3 defeating Antwerp 4-1. The Portuguese will look for a bigger result in MD-4. Porto defeated Vizela 2-0 and lost to Estoril 0-1 domestically. Porto sits in third place in the Portuguese Liga, three points behind Benfica.
Belgian opponent Antwerp lost to rival Club Brugge 1-2 after MD-3 in the domestic league. Antwerp progressed in the domestic cup by defeating Kempenzonen 4-1. On Saturday, they defeated Genk 3-2, but they remain eight points off the pace in 6th place.
The following difficulty tables are subjective and do not rely on specific criteria, but we hope they’ll serve as a simple guide to help readers navigate the group stages and plan for chips.
Good luck to you this season; we’ll be with you all the way!
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