End of an era for Champions League

The UEFA Champions League Group stage has officially come to an end which marks the end of one the most prestigious parts of the coveted Champions League. The last-ever group stage did not disappoint as it yet again showed why the Champions League is the best and most coveted trophy in Europe. 

As an avid football (soccer) fan, I thought it would only make sense to recap every single group from this season’s Champions League. 

Group A

Group A can be summed up by two facts: domination from Bayern, and an absolute shocker from Manchester United. 

When looking at this group at the beginning of the season, it was easy to predict that the top two would be two of the most prestigious clubs in Europe, but only half of that panned out. 

Bayern was the top dog in the group, having not lost a single game in the group. The won five and had one draw. Bayern did what was expected of them, and dominated the group in the same fashion that they have in the past decade. 

The question now is: Will this domination continue in the knockout stages?

Manchester United was the biggest shock of this group as expectations were high this year, and with manager Erik Ten Hag entering his second season, and looking to finally turn the club in the right direction. 

Manchester United just seemed like it never had it going for them this season in the Champions League, as they only managed one win of their five matches against teams they’d expected to beat. 

Manchester United just never got it going. They played great at times but, when you can’t defend and you concede goals you shouldn’t, you simply can’t hang in the Champions League. 

Copenhagen was a big shock this season, progressing into the knockout stages. Wins against United and Galatasaray, along with a draw against Bayern, helped them move on to the knockout stages. 

Group B 

The big storyline for Group B was Arsenal’s return to the Champions League. 

Arsenal is officially back where it belongs, and that’s in the knockout stages of the Champions League. Arsenal kicked off its campaign with a 4-0 statement  win against PSV and didn’t look back. 

Arsenal was dominant throughout the group topping it with 13 points. 

Sevilla was the big disappointment of this group. They  were expected to make another run as they had in past years, but this just wasn’t their year. They managed to not win a single game this season. 

Group C

Group C was the group that lived up to the predictions and showed the class of two of the best clubs in the world playing at their best. 

Real Madrid and Napoli were the favorites to top the group, and they proceeded to do it with Madrid being first and Napoli coming in second. 

Real Madrid yet again in this group stage showed why they are the kings of the Champions League by winning all six games this season, and maintaining their status in the group stage as one of the only teams to never be knocked out in the group stage. 

Real Madrid was dominant in every single game this year, but the player that shined the brightest on the biggest stage was Jude Belligham, scoring four goals and racking up three assists so far. 

His emergence and Madrid’s dominant performances will once again make them one of the favorites to win the coveted trophy. 

Napoli has been one of Europe’s best in the past year, emerging last year with the star power of Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia. 

Statistically, they haven’t been impressive so far, but the team as a whole hasn’t been as impressive as they should be with their talented roster. 

Napoli won the games they needed to win, but didn’t play their best football. The question for them is if they can figure it out in time for the Knockout stages.

Group D

Inter Milan and Real Sociedad were the frontrunners in this group and played as such from start to finish. They both finished the groups with 12 points, with Real Sociedad topping the group on goal difference and Inter finishing the group in second. 

The main concern from this group is how Inter will pan out in the knockout stages. Inter made it to the final last year where they were beaten by Manchester City, but if they look to make another solid run in this year’s Champions League, then they must turn on another gear.

Header Photo: Real Madrid star Jude Bellingham has impressed in the Champions League so far. Bellingham has four goals and three assists so far. (Pablo Garcia/The Associated Press)

Write to Ahmed Hassan at ahmed.hassan.4@mnsu.edu

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