The Champions League group stage is reaching the decisive stage where qualification is achieved, or the battle hots up to make to next stage/ achieve Europa League qualification. What are the takeaways from this week’s action involving the Bundesliga’s finest?
1. Ain’t no Son Shine for Eintracht
Eintracht Frankfurt’s 4-2 defeat in London to Tottenham leaves them bottom of group D with four points, but with both Marseille and Sporting above them on six, there is still everything to play for as they play them both next.
If Arsenal are interested in signing Jesper Lindstrom, the Dane put in quite the impressive audition at the Gunners’ rivals forcing some excellent saves out of Hugo Lloris. Kristijan Jakic and Tuta had games to forget with Jakic conceding the penalty in the first half and then gifting Spurs the chance to add a fifth late on with an appalling giveaway. Tuta got himself two yellow cards in the space of three minutes trying to illegally stop Son.
Heung-Min Son was the start of the show with two goals as the Adler had no answer to the threat of the former Bayer Leverkusen forward.
2. Bayern Cruise into knock-out stage
Despite a host of absentees through Covid and injuries, Bayern still cruised through to the knock-out stage with two games to spare. Group C was supposed to be the ‘Group of Death’ with Inter and Barcelona joining the Bavarians, but they have made light work of qualifying.
Julian Nagelsmann had to make six changes with Manuel Neuer, Matthijs de Ligt, Alphonso Davies and Serge Gnabry all injured with Jamal Musiala down with Covid. The quality available to him was such that Bayern still steamrollered over Plzeň with four first half goals. The hosts did score twice in the second half with Bayern taking their foot off the gas, but with the pressure is now off the final two games with Inter and Barcelona.
3. Leverkusen pay the penalty
The honeymoon for Xabi Alonso didn’t extend to the Champions League with the Werkself losing 3-0 at home to Porto giving them a real uphill task in group B. After a fine debut win over Schalke, Alonso got a wake-up call on Wednesday night.
In was a tale of penalties at the Bay Arena with the luck going the way of the Portuguese on the night. After conceding a poor opener from a long ball over the top, Leverkusen were handed the chance to equalise on 16 minutes, but Kerem Demirbay saw his penalty effort saved by keeper Diogo Costa.
The miss proved costly with the visitors scoring to spot kicks (both correctly awarded) in the second half. Unlike Demirbay, Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi kept his nerve both times to hand the Dragons a 3-0 win.
4. Dortmund upset Hummels
Borussia Dortmund had beaten Sevilla 4-1 in Andalusia last week but were held to a 1-1 draw at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday to prevent them from booking their place in the knock-out stage.
The manner of the performance brought some stinging criticism from Mats Hummels post-match with the BVB defender not holding back in his frustration at giving the ball away and players being too obsesses with ‘sexy football’ rather than getting the job done.
5. Leipzig in two-way fight with Shakhtar
A 2-0 win in Glasgow for Leipzig ended Celtic’s Champions League adventure for this season with two goals in the last fifteen minutes from Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg.
Marco Rose’s side are now in effect in a two-horse race with Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk for the runners-up spot in group F behind Real Madrid. Shakhtar almost produced a shock victory over the current champions only for a 95th minute equaliser from German Antonio Rüdiger to deny them.
Leipzig sit second on six points with Shakhtar on five. The Saxon side have to play Real at home and Shakhtar away in their next two fixtures.