As we draw the curtains in what has been an eventful group stage of the 2021/22 season in the UEFA Champions League, let’s take a look back and see the main takeaways:
Bayern Munich continued their domination and showed everyone exactly why they are the favorites to the title by finishing first in the most goals scored in the group stage list
Sebastien Haller was arguably the MVP of the group stage as he oversaw the team’s qualification as Group C leaders quoted as one of the “Group of death”
Liverpool and Ajax maintained a perfect record winning all six of their group matches to make history
Manchester City and Paris Saint Germain were set out to be the favourites to qualify from the beginning and as we found out that were to be the case, with Leipzig giving a good fight finishing in third, heading into the Europa League and Club Brugge had shown signs of promise, but they faded away sooner rather than later.
This was set out to be the ultimate “Group of Death”, with all the teams considered to be European Giants with 14 Champions League titles in this group alone. Liverpool sailed past everyone and finished on top comfortably. There was a tight scrap between Atletico, Porto, and Milan for the final spot with only a point separating them before the final gameweek but ultimately Atletico’s experience came in hand as they came in second and Porto dropped down into the Europa League which meant AC Milan crashed out of Europe after securing Champions League after 9 seasons.
Group C was touted to be one of the most unpredictable groups, with it filled with dark horses with Ajax ultimately easing past the rest and qualified as group leaders with Sporting finishing runners-up. Dortmund’s unsatisfactory showing in the group stages resulted in them dropping down to the Europa League
Real Madrid has a knack of starting slowly in the tournament but apart from a shock defeat to Moldavian side, FC Sheriff, they were pretty unphased. Sheriff was on top of the group after 2 games but ultimately fell down to third with Inter Milan qualifying into the knockouts after a long while out.
The biggest shock of the Group Stage came at the hands of FC Barcelona, as they crashed out of the group stages, and into the RO32 of the Europa League.
Benfica turned out to be the surprise package of the group finishing runners up after beating Dynamo Kyiv. Bayern Munich made light work of the rest as they qualified for the RO16.
Manchester United were all set to drop into the Europa League two years running if results didn’t go their way but managed to claim top spot. Villareal secured qualification after beating Atalanta on Thursday night. The side from Bergamo was left disappointed and had to settle for a Europa League spot. Young Boys were unable to add to their shock win over United on Matchday 1
“Rollercoaster” would be the perfect word to describe Group G, as heading into the final matchday all teams could secure qualification into the knockouts. But put down to shocking displays from Sevilla and Wolfsburg, Lille and Salzburg qualified comfortably. Sevilla wouldn’t be too disappointed as they dropped into the Europa League, as the most successful club in the tournament’s history with a record 6 titles to their name.
Heading into the competition as current holders, Chelsea were always going to the favourites once again with another contender in, Juventus. Chelsea were all set to claim the top spot but owing to a 94th minute stunning equalizer from Zenit, Juventus secured the top spot as they had done their job in Turin over Swedish side, Malmo. Zenit put in strong performances throughout but didn’t have the results to match it and had to settle for a place in the RO32 of the Europa League.