The group stages of the Champions League is nearing its end as matchday 5 takes place this week. Six teams have already ensured qualification before matchday 5 which includes some surprising omissions. Defending champions Bayern Munich have continued their roll winning all four games. Same is the case for Barcelona in Group G and Manchester City in Group C, both have made their way into the next round by winning all four games till date. Group E and G are the only two groups which have both of their top two places booked, Juventus accompanying Barca in Group G while Chelsea and Sevilla from Group E have qualified to the next round as well. The biggest surprise perhaps has been from Group B, Real Madrid and Inter Milan have failed to stamp their authority on the group with Inter Milan on the verge of being kicked out of European football entirely.
Matchday 5 will begin with two early kick-offs on Tuesday, Shaktar will be hosting Real Madrid and Lokomotiv Moscow will take on RB Salzburg, both games will have considerable impact on the respective groups. Moscow will overtake Atletico with a win while a win for the Galacticos at Kyiv will guarantee a place in the round of 16. Atletico will take on Bayern later and will hope that they can overpower a Bayern side that has a qualification in their bag and will likely put on a weakened side to rest their main players.
Anfield will host the Dutch side Ajax, the group remains wide open with both Atlanta and Ajax on 7 points each, the Reds are at the pole position for now with 9 points. Klopp’s side will undoubtedly be nervous coming at the back of a tame defeat against Atlanta in their last outing in the Champions League compounded by a controversial yet a lacklustre draw against Brighton on Saturday. The young guns of Ajax will be looking forward to take the game to the Reds who are also missing a number of their key players, something that has consistently annoyed Jurgen Klopp in recent weeks.
A mouth-watering clash between Manchester United and PSG will take place on Wednesday night (well really Thursday morning for us Pakistani fans). The so-called group of death has lived up to its name, the group remains wide open with all three of United, PSG and Leipzig in contention to qualify for the next round. PSG last time out managed to hold out Leipzig for 1-0 win in Paris and will be desperate for another win at Manchester. As far as the Red Devils are concerned, it’s anyone’s guess as to how they will perform. Their current hot and cold performances bring to mind a rather lovely quote from the brilliant cricket commentator Nasir Hussain. Pakistani cricket team was facing South Africa in the semi-final of the T20 world cup in 2009 and had lost an early wicket. Dale Steyn, at the peak of his powers ran in and Kamran Akmal nonchalantly hit the bowl straight back over his head for a six causing Nasir Hussain to say, “we were wondering which Pakistan would turn up today, it’s the one to be afraid of”. And that is the perfect representation of the United’s side right now, they were certainly to be afraid of against PSG and Leipzig before they shot themselves in the foot and lost to Istanbul and put their qualification to the next round in jeopardy. Still they need just a point from the remaining two games to qualify from a particularly difficult group which would be a feather in the cap of their under-pressure manager.