Somehow, someway, we are where we need to be. Perhaps not where we had to be. The World Cup fixed between the regular season meant that matches would be crammed. But as the final set of group stage matches goes down this week, the Champions League has admittedly been a lot of fun.
Some of the “big boys” have bitten the dust, not least Barcelona, who have had to pull four levers and mortgage their foreseeable future this summer. On the flip side, some dark horses have risen to the challenge.
A number of groups have been decided. This means that there will be a few dead rubber matches. And yet, some groups will effectively go down to the wire. The fight will continue till the very last second, especially group D.
Gameweek 6 is set to deliver even more drama as the teams have a crack at it once more.
Review Of Gameweek 5
In Group A, Mohamed Salah was on target as Liverpool eased to a 3-0 win against Ajax. Giovanni Simeone scored a brace to help Napoli defeat Rangers and seal top spot.
FC Porto thrashed Club Brugge 4-0 away to reduce the gap at the top to one point in Group B. Atletico Madrid’s Yannick Carrasco missed a crucial last-minute penalty in the dramatic 2-2 draw with Bayer Leverkusen. The La Liga giants have now failed to qualify for the round of 16.
Inter Milan sealed their place in the Champions League knockouts with a 4-0 trouncing of Viktoria Plzen in Group C. Immediately after, Barcelona succumbed to a 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich with their fate already known.
Eintracht Frankfurt blew Group D wide open with a 2-1 victory against Marseille. There was late VAR drama in the 1-1 draw between Tottenham and Sporting which saw Harry Kane’s late goal chopped off.
Chelsea sealed top spot in Group E after defeating Salzburg 2-1. In the other group match, AC Milan made light work of Dinamo Zagreb 4-0.
Celtic forced Shakhtar Donetsk to a 1-1 draw in Group F. RB Leipzig overcame a much-changed Real Madrid 3-2.
Sevilla earned a comfortable 3-0 win against Copenhagen in Group G. Manchester City’s Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty as the Citizens settled for a goalless draw with Borussia Dortmund.
Juventus’ late rally was not enough as they suffered an embarrassing 4-3 defeat to Benfica. Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Neymar all scored in PSG’s 7-2 thrashing of Maccabi Haifa in Group H.
Preview Of Gameweek 6
It is all or nothing for the teams who still have a fighting chance to qualify for the knockouts.
Tuesday’s action will see Groups A-D take to the pitch, while Groups E-H will round off the group stages on Wednesday.
Liverpool will host Napoli at Anfield nursing a slight revenge against the Serie A team. Ajax will be confident against a winless Rangers in the other group A match.
Bayer Leverkusen still have a chance to qualify for the Europa League, although they must defeat Club Brugge. FC Porto will be desperate to beat Atletico Madrid in order to keep their top-spot hopes alive.
Bayern Munich and Inter Milan have a little matter of pride and protocol when they meet at the Allianz Arena. Viktoria Plzen will be quite keen to earn a positive result against Barcelona, who will be without Robert Lewandowski.
It is all to play for in Group D, with every team having a qualifying chance. Marseille and Tottenham will do battle in France as Sporting welcome Eintracht Frankfurt.
In a six-pointer affair in Group E, AC Milan and Salzburg will have a go. Chelsea should do enough to claim maximum points against Dinamo Zagreb, especially after a poor Premier League weekend.
Real Madrid will need to defeat Celtic to be sure of top position in Group F. Shakhtar Donetsk need a win of any sort against RB Leipzig in the race to progress past the group stages.
FC Copenhagen entertain Borussia Dortmund as Manchester City take on Sevilla in Group G.
When Juventus faces a desperate PSG for first place, they risk missing out on European competition entirely. In Group H, Maccabi Haifa and Benfica will face off with similar implications.
Predictions For Gameweek 6
Liverpool vs Napoli (goal/goal)
Rangers vs Ajax (2)
Bayer Leverkusen vs Club Brugge (over 2.5 goals)
FC Porto vs Atletico Madrid (1X)
Bayern Munich vs Inter (over 1.5 goals)
Viktoria Plzen vs Barcelona (under 3.5 goals)
Marseille vs Tottenham (over 1.5 goals)
Sporting vs Eintracht Frankfurt (over 2.5 goals)
AC Milan vs Salzburg (goal/goal)
Chelsea vs Dinamo Zagreb (1)
Real Madrid vs Celtic (1)
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Leipzig (over 1.5 goals)
Copenhagen vs Borussia Dortmund (2)
Manchester City vs Sevilla (1)
Juventus vs PSG (over 2.5 goals)
Maccabi Haifa vs Benfica (2)