Group A- Messi Sparkles For PSG
Manchester City won Group A, as their spot at the top of the group was assured before their defeat against RB Leipzig on matchday six. However, the star of the group was unquestionably Lionel Messi. The Argentinean superstar was brought to the club to finally get them over the line in the competition. Many still question whether PSG have the quality out of possession to win the competition, but Messi still sparkled throughout the group stages.
The former Barcelona superstar scored five goals in the group stages, with one of those coming in the form of a stunning effort to steer PSG past Manchester City at the Parc des Princes. A special mention must also go to Joao Cancelo for Manchester City, who recorded three assists in the 450 minutes that he played in Group A.
Group B- Liverpool Ease Through Challenging Group
Liverpool made lightwork of Group B in the Champions League this season, as they became the first English club to win all six games in the group stages. That was even more impressive given that they were drawn in the group labelled the ‘Group of Death’. However, the Reds never looked in danger, and scored 17 goals in the six games that they played.
Their star man in the competition to this point has been Mohamed Salah, who is looking every inch like a player that could one day challenge for the Ballon d’Or. Salah’s goal against AC Milan at the San Siro on matchday six was his seventh in the competition so far, making him the joint-third highest scorer in the Champions League this season.
Group C- Ajax Daring To Dream
The story in group C was all about Borussia Dortmund’s early exit in the competition this season, as they could only finish third. However, that shouldn’t take anything away from how brilliant Ajax have been under Erik Ten Haag. The Dutch side have won all six games that they have played, scoring an incredibly 20 goals in the process.
Sebastien Haller has been the star in the Champions League so far this season, as the former West Ham flop has scored ten goals in the six games that he has played. Haller memorably scored four goals in Ajax’s opening night win against Sporting Lisbon, which will be a performance that will stick in the memory for years to come.
Group D- Real & Inter Overcome Competitive Rivals
For a while it looked as though Real Madrid and Inter Milan could both have huge tasks to get through Group D. However, they were able to settle down in the final four matchdays and get the results that they needed to in order to qualify. Real Madrid’s win against Inter on matchday six means that they finished top of the group.
Karim Benzema was the man for the big moment for the Spanish giants, as the Frenchman scored important goals in crucial wins over Sheriff and Shakhtar Donetsk when the pressure was really on. He picked up the UEFA Man of the Match awards in both those games, and ended the group stages with a respectable tally of five goals. However, neither Real or Inter will be giving the favourites for the Champions League this season many sleepless nights.
Group E- Bayern Continue To Flex Muscle
There’s no question that Bayern Munich look to be the side that every team in the Champions League this season will be keen to avoid. Bayern cruised through Group E without breaking a sweat, scoring 22 goals and conceding just three. However, the story of Group E focuses on Barcelona, as they failed to make it through the group stages of the Champions League for the first time in 20 years. This only heightens claims that La Liga is at its weakest point for years. Benfica took second spot in matchday six with a win against Dynamo Kyiv.
Today and always, força Barça! pic.twitter.com/t7jJwfTq6j
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) December 9, 2021
It would be hard to look anywhere else for the star of this group than Robert Lewandowski. The Pole arguably should have won the Ballon d’Or in 2021, but instead of complaining, he is letting his performances do the talking. Lewandowski has scored nine goals in the 516 minutes that he has spent on the pitch this season. Leroy Sane also gets an honourable mention, having scored five and registering four assists.
Group F- United Overcome Slow Start
Manchester United are back in the knockout rounds of the Champions League this season, having fallen into the Europa League last season. Mr Champions League, Cristiano Ronaldo has been the star player in this group, scoring a late winner for United at Old Trafford against Villarreal earlier in the campaign, before netting a crucial equaliser away from home against Atalanta after that.
Ronaldo has so often come through for United in the competition so far, and is among the highest scorers in the competition with six goals from the 431 minutes that he has spent on the pitch. Bruno Fernandes has also enjoyed an excellent Champions League campaign, registering six assists.
Group G- Lille & Salzburg Keep Cool
Group G was the final group to be decided, but ultimately it was to be Lille and RB Salzburg that made it through in the two top spots. Lille won the group after beating Wolfsburg in Germany, while Salzburg capped a memorable group stage campaign with a victory over Sevilla to take second.
Jonathan Ikone was the star in the group, as Lille put their Ligue 1 form behind them to finish top of the standings. The 23-year-old has scored one goal in five games in the competition this season, but has picked up the UEFA Man of the Match award on two occasions.
Group H- Juventus Steal Top Spot On Final Day
The only factor that was yet to be decided on matchday six in the Champions League in Group H was the team that was going to finish top, and avoid a more challenging route through the knockout rounds. Juventus eventually managed to take that spot, as they beat Malmo, while Chelsea were held by Zenit Saint Petersburg. In a group where every match has been testing, it was hard to pinpoint one star.
However, Reece James was the most exciting player to watch in the group, as his stunning goal at Stamford Bridge against Juventus contributed towards one of the standout wins in the competition so far. James has a 91.3% pass completion rate in the Champions League this season, and has made 1.5 key passes per game.