We are halfway through the Group Stage in the Champions League, and we have three groups that have leaders with the maximum of nine points. While they are not yet assured of advancing to the knockout phase, their chances are much higher, and they can be sealed up with wins on Matchday 4 in two weeks.
We also have two clubs with zero points through three matches, so they would have to go on and amazing run to redeem their Champions League play and possibly qualify for the Europa League by finishing in third place in their groups. However, neither club – Lokomotiv Moscow and AEK Athens – were favorites to advance coming in, and they have shown with their play thus far that people were right.
Finally, we have two of our own “favorite” clubs in the tournament – Red Star Belgrade and Young Boys – that are probably going to miss out on Europa as well. While they have both scored one point through three games, they are far behind their groups in fourth place with terrible goal differentials. I have higher hopes for Young Boys moving up to third, if only because they just drew with the club ahead of them in the group, but they will need to find three points against two clubs that have already defeated them easily.
Here are some of the more shocking results of the first round of matches from around Europe (based on UEFA rankings heading into the match or location). Home teams are listed first:
Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Atletico Madrid
Atlético Madrid entered the Champions League Group Stage as the second-ranked club in UEFA; Borussia Dortmund entered in 10th. One would expect a competitive match under those circumstances, not a 4-0 destruction. Maybe Atletico chose not to send their Best XI to the match because they were tied with Dortmund with six points heading into the match, far ahead of the other two clubs in Group A. Maybe they knew that Matchday 4 would see a rematch, except at home in Madrid, so they expect to even the score then. Either way, both clubs are still the overwhelming favorites to advance out of the Group, and will fight for the first position, if only to face off against another group’s second finisher. But the only other matches in the Champions League that have had as lopsided of a score were matches between top clubs and qualifiers, not from two of the top 10 clubs in the tournament.
Read moreChampions League – Matchday 3 Recap