We’ve reached the halfway mark of the Champions League group stages – time to throw it in reverse.
Last week’s away teams will face the same rivals but this time on home soil.
With many of this week’s most exciting games already described in detail last week, we’re going to change up the pace a bit.
Instead of calling the best UCL matches to watch this week, let’s predict the group winners at the halfway point.
Group A – Ajax, Liverpool, Napoli, Rangers
Current Leaders: Napoli
Projected Winners: Napoli, Liverpool
In Napoli’s current form, the Serie A leaders should be set to cruise to the knock-out round, even in the unlikely circumstance they don’t win again. While Rangers are probably going home, Ajax will likely go to the Europa League, unless they pull off upsets over Liverpool and Napoli, starting today.
Group B – Atletico Madrid, Club Brugge, Leverkusen, Porto
Current Leaders: Club Brugge
Projected Winners: Club Brugge, Porto
Group B is tough to call. Club Brugge has clearly been dominant, but can they keep it up? On paper, this group should be won by Atletico and Leverkusen, and both sides still have the quality to win the remainder of their games. We still think Club Brugge and Porto will squeak it out, sending Atletico to the Europa League.
Group C – Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Viktoria Plezn
Current Leaders: Bayern
Projected Winners: Bayern, Barcelona
Barcelona, and Robert Lewandowski in particular, have had a tough last two games in the UCL, losing 2-0 to Bayern and 1-0 to Inter. Barca must win at home over Inter tomorrow, or it’s surely all over. We think Barca can win over Inter and at least tie Bayern, which should be enough to send them to the UCL group stages and Inter to the Europa League.
Group D – Eintracht Frankfurt, Marseille, Sporting CP, Tottenham
Current Leaders: Sporting CP
Projected Winners: Sporting CP, Tottenham
Despite group leaders Sporting’s embarrassing away performance against Marseille last week, Sporting is in a sporting position to advance if they can avoid losing again. But Group D is a toss-up in the middle – all the teams are within one win of having the most points. It could go either way, but Tottenham and Sporting are the best teams in the group, and Marseille will likely go to the Champions League.
Group E – AC Milan, Chelsea, Dinamo Zagreb, RB Salzburg
Current Leaders: RB Salzburg
Projected Winners: AC Milan, Chelsea
Graham Potter has Chelsea back in winning form after Tuchel’s opening day loss to Dinamo, defeating Milan 3-0 at home last week. Playing them away will be more difficult against a firing-on-all-cylinders Milan, but Chelsea is playing well enough to win or tie. Expect Salzburg to find themselves in the Europa League.
Group F – Celtic, Real Madrid, RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk
Current Leaders: Real Madrid
Projected Winners: Real Madrid, RB Leipzig
Real Madrid still hasn’t lost a single game across all competitions in the 2022-2023 season, so they’re set. Though Shakhtar is playing way above their pay grade in second place right now, RB Leipzig is the better team and will likely collect more points over the next three games. Celtic is better than their last-place position and better than Shakhtar – expect the Scottish Premiership leaders to go to the Europa League.
Group G – Copenhagen, Dortmund, Manchester City, Sevilla
Current Leaders: Man City
Projected Winners: Man City, Dortmund
This is probably the easiest of the groups to call. Man City and Dortmund are so far ahead of their competition that they don’t even need to play starters against Copenhagen and Sevilla. It’s unclear who goes to the Europa League, but whoever does will probably continue losing there, too.
Group H – Benfica, Juventus, Maccabi Haifa, PSG
Current Leaders: PSG
Projected Winners: PSG, Benfica
Probably the second-easiest group to call behind Group G. PSG and Benfica are lightyears ahead of Juventus and Maccabi Haifa right now, which is an embarrassing condition for the once-great Juve. Juventus will probably do enough to get to the Europa League, but until they find a new head coach, that’s where they belong.
Which teams do you think will advance to the round of 16? Sound off below!
Featured Image: Pexels/Andre Moura/UEFAChampionsLeague/DM