The Champions League is shaping up to be another unpredictable affair. With only two rounds remaining, the field has been left wide open but we can relax somewhat knowing that England has secured, at bare minimum, one team in the knockout phase.
Title defenders Chelsea had a brilliant win Wednesday over Group E leaders Shakhtar Donetsk, securing a 3-2 victory in extra time. Shakhtar is currently edging them out for first place with a two point goal difference however Juventus are on their heels and their clash in a fortnight will no doubt be the deciding game, with fourth place Nordsjælland not remotely in the hunt for a last minute dash to the knockout stages.
Defending Premier League champions Man City were forced to a 2-2 draw against Ajax in a match peppered with official botch-ups. Coach Roberto Mancini conceded “for now, we are finished” and he’s probably right. They take on Real Madrid and Dortmund, who are top of the table in Group D, and will likely continue to be.
…hoping to redeem themselves…
Arsenal are still in the race in Group B, clinging to second place, and a race it most certainly is. While Montpellier have slipped off the radar, the fight for top two is being knuckled out between Schalke, Arsenal and Olympiacos, all within a point of each other. The Gunners drew with Schalke on Tuesday, despite losing to the German side 2-0 a fortnight ago on home soil. The game to watch will be the final match of the group stage against pesky Olympiacos, which will undoubtedly go down to the wire.
Manchester United looked like the team to watch as they notched up a sound win to seal their place at the top of Group H, not to be caught after acquiring the maximum amount of points in the group stage outings so far. The Premier League leaders are hoping to redeem themselves after failing to make the knockout phase in last year’s competition.
While Man City have only the slightest hopes of making the knockout stage, our English hopes lie, and with recent-found confidence, in the all but definite entry of Man United. Chelsea should make the cut as long as they hold off the nagging Juventus and with a bit of luck Arsenal will hold onto their top two standing and join them. Either way, the English camps are making strong strides towards highly anticipated February football.