The Champions League resumed this week, with an exciting week of matches in the fourth round of group stage matches. The highlight of the round, obviously, was Liverpool’s record 8-0 win over hapless and helpless Besiktas, but there were 15 other matches as well.
Below is a review of the results from Tuesday’s action and how things are shaking out in Group A, B, C, and D. There are a few surprises right now, and there are many yet to come. That’s why you’ve got to love the Champions League, or, you should, at least.
Finally Liverpool decided to show up, and when they did, did they ever, the same Besiktas side who had eked out a 1-0 victory in Turkey two weeks ago was simply overmatched and overrun at Anfield to the tune of a record-setting 8-0 score.
But, did it actually mean anything? It got Liverpool out of the cellar in the group, but because of Porto forward Lisandro Lopez (and a brilliant goal from Tarik Sektioui), Liverpool are still facing the same uphill climb they were entering Tuesday night’s match. Lopez headed home a 78th-minute winner to give Porto a 2-1 win over former group leaders Marseille, and that puts the Portuguese side atop the group with eight points, with Marseille in second on seven.
Scoring eight goals in one match now puts Liverpool in the position of advancing on goal difference if they end up tied for second on points with either of the current top two, and that looks likely to be their way into the knockout stage, even if they win the final two matches.
Nov. 28: Liverpool vs. Porto, Besiktas vs. Marseille
Dec. 11: Porto vs. Besiktas, Marseille vs. Liverpool
If Liverpool picks up only a draw with Porto, their hopes will rest on Besiktas at least drawing against Marseille, and then winning in France in December. If Marseille takes all three points in Turkey, Liverpool must win the final two matches in order to go through on goal difference – unless Marseille puts seven or eight past Besiktas, which would make Liverpool have to do better than 1-0 in both matches.
Chelsea looks pretty safe to qualify in Group B, though a goalless draw in Germany against Schalke means their celebrations are hold for at least a few weeks.
But, who will likely join them in the knockout stage? Right now, Rosenborg is in that second spot, a point behind Chelsea after picking up back-to-back 2-0 wins over Valencia, including a dominant performance at the Mestalla on Tuesday night, where two goals by former Tottenham and Wolves striker Steffen Iversen were the difference.
The Norwegian powers are seizing the opportunity to make as much noise as possible in the Champions League while they have a chance (they finished 5th in their league, which means that even a place in the UEFA Cup for next year isn’t guaranteed), and took full advantage of a side who’s going next to nowhere right now.
But, the boys from Trondheim have a tough road ahead if they want to advance to the knockout stages, though a place in the UEFA Cup would be a nice safety net.
Nov. 28: Valencia vs. Schalke, Rosenborg vs. Chelsea
Dec. 11: Chelsea vs. Valencia, Schalke vs. Rosenborg
If Rosenborg can take a point from their match with Chelsea, and Valencia beats Schalke, they could advance regardless of what happens in Germany, provided Chelsea doesn’t lose to the Spanish side on the final matchday of the group round. A lot of things can happen in this group in the last two rounds, so it definitely bears watching.
After a goalless draw with Olympiakos, Real Madrid continue to top this group, with eight points from four matches. Things are looking good both domestically and continentally for Madrid, but their qualification for the knockout stages isn’t assured as of yet.
Things are wide open for the second spot. Lazio, who had two points after their first three matches, are suddenly looking much better after Tommaso Rocchi’s second-half brace secured a 2-1 win over Werder Bremen in Rome. They’re level on five points with the Greek champions, with Bremen at the bottom with three.
Nov. 28: Lazio vs. Olympiakos, Werder Bremen vs. Real Madrid
Dec. 11: Real Madrid vs. Lazio, Olympiakos vs. Werder Bremen
Real can seal their qualification for the knockout round if they win in Germany on the 28th.
Bremen’s 3-1 home loss to Olympiakos in Matchday 2 has them up against it, but there’s still hope for them to advance.
That Lazio-Olympiakos match is crucial, both for those sides and for Bremen. The winner of that match would be in the driver’s seat for the second qualification spot, and would still have a shot at winning the group.
If that match ends in a draw, and Bremen draws with Real, the German side would go through with a win in Greece (if Real beats Lazio).
But, if Bremen beats Real, and the points aren’t shared in Rome, then that would se the stage for a wild final round, where everything would be up for grabs.
It’s been a rough start for AC Milan in Serie A, but the defending Champions League winners are setting the pace in Group D, following their convincing 3-0 win over Shakhtar in Ukraine.
Celtic have followed their two group losses with wins each time, including a 1-0 win over Benfica on Tuesday. The Scottish champs are on six points, along with Shakhtar, and Benfica brings up the rear with only three points from their first four matches.
Nov. 28: Celtic vs. Shakhtar, Benfica vs. AC Milan
Dec. 11: AC Milan vs. Celtic, Shakhtar vs. Benfica
Milan could wrap up a spot in the knockout round with a win over Benfica, while a win in the next match is a must for Celtic, if they don’t want to roll into Milan needing a victory to avoid getting knocked into the UEFA Cup. For Shakhtar, a draw in Glasgow could be as big as a win, given Celtic’s trip to Milan, and the Ukrainian champions’ home field advantage over a Benfica side they beat 1-0 in Portugal.