Champions League Group stage unfolded

Group E 

Atletico Madrid dominated Group E winning four  games and drawing two being led by Antoine Griezmann scoring five. 

Atletico Madrid looked strong throughout the group stages, and there was never a doubt or feeling that they wouldn’t top the group. If they continue what they did during the group stages, and Griezmann keeps playing at the level he is, then they are some serious contenders to win it all. 

Lazio has been very notable so far during this campaign getting second in the group. Lazio is a big team among the lower-level tiers of football clubs which unfortunately does not make them heavy favorites to make a run, but this is the Champions League for a reason which means anything can happen. 

Group F

The group of death of this year’s Champions League once again did not disappoint. 

The group of death this year featured Dortmund, PSG, Milan and Newcastle United. 

Every single game this year was nothing short of incredible with every single team having something to prove, and every game carrying a heavy weight. 

Dortmund was first in the group this year, and they earned it. Dortmund was able to gain a result against every team this campaign with 3 wins propelling them to lead the group along with drawing against PSG on the final matchday. 

Dortmund’s big test will be if they can sustain their form, and begin to find their identity more to make a serious run in the knockout stages. 

PSG in my eyes was extremely lucky to be able to move on to the knockout stages as they were only able to get two wins against Dortmund and Milan, but still did not look impressive at all. One of the biggest controversies of the group stages this year would be PSG’s controversial last-minute penalty against Milan to salvage a point and draw.

PSG would end up getting second in the group thanks to the goal differential against Milan. PSG cannot sustain having Kylian Mbappe carry this team every game day as I do not see them making a run in this year’s campaign unless Mbappe turns on another gear, and PSG can play at a level that they are simply not capable of. 

Milan’s run this year can be compared to PSG’s in the sense of disappointing results but differ when it comes to their luck. Milan has a great core and a great team with rising stars like Pulisic, Leao and Hernandez.

They were simply not consistent enough, and when it comes to the group of death you must take everything you can get.

Newcastle United was one of my favorite teams in this year’s campaign as it was their first time back in the Champions League in 20 years. The atmosphere at St. James’ Park was electric, and Newcastle started its campaign off with a loud 4-0 bashing of PSG at home. 

They started slowly  and lost back-to-back games against Dortmund. 

Newcastle’s match against PSG could be regarded as one of the worst officiated, and they were robbed of an away win against PSG due to a penalty. This game could have changed the tide for them, and maybe took them to the knockout stages.

Newcastle was a win away from making the knockout stages, but  fell to Milan on the final matchday because of an inability to finish chances. Football is a cruel game and, hopefully, this isn’t the last we see of Newcastle in the Champions League. 

Group G

Group G would go as expected with Manchester City and Leipzig dominating the group and making it to the knockout stages. 

The defending champions Manchester City did what they do best. They won every single game, and again looked like they were on a mission to win the Champions League for the second time in a row. 

Leipzig showed everyone what they should expect out of this young and exciting squad, they won the games they were supposed to and lost only against City. I’m excited to see what this squad can do, as they’ve proven before that they’re capable of making some noise in the knockout stages. 

Group H

Group H would mark the return of the Spanish giants FC Barcelona back to the knockout rounds in their long-awaited return.

Barcelona had not been in the knockout rounds since Lionel Messi left them, which makes this one even more special for them. 

Barcelona still needs to clean many things up for them to start being contenders. They were not very convincing in the group stages against teams they quite frankly should be beating.

They have a long way to go to get back to the level they were at, but for now, they’re headed in the right direction. 

This marks the end of an era for many, including myself, as we all bid farewell to the Champions League Group Stage. 

This year yet again showed everyone why this competition is the best in the world, and the matchups this year in the group stages provided everything fans came to see except Manchester United fans. 

The group stages of the Champions League are finally over, but will forever live on in Football Fan’s hearts. 

Header Photo: The Champions League returns February 13 for the knockout stage of the competition. (Martin Meissner/The Associated Press)

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

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