Agathe Vanmassenhove || Sports Reporter
The Champions League was back last Tuesday and Wednesday for the third matchday of the group stage. With only three more group stage matches before the championship tournament begins, the final standings are almost established.
For now, there are still a number of undefeated teams that have a firm hold on their positioning. These teams include Manchester City (the defending champion), FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern. These teams secured all 9 points and are currently standing first in their groups.
FC Barcelona, relegated to the less competitive Europa League for two years, appear to be back on the path to success. With an excellent first half against Shakhtar, despite multiple injuries to the squad, Barcelona won with a final score of 2-1. The Blaugranas were leading 2-0 before half time thanks to an incredible performance by promising young midfielder Fermin Lopez, who not only scored the second goal, but also initiated the first one. FC Barcelona has quickly earned the title of a legitimate contender.
The group stage may be easy for some teams but some other big names are struggling as the opponents do not want to give up the points. After PSG’s loss to Newcastle on the second matchday, the Parisian team faced a must-win game against AC Milan, and was able to improve their play and win, with a final score of 3-0. The international break was good to Mbappe, who came back stronger than ever and scored the first goal of the game in the first half. The next two scores were contributed by newly signed french player Randal Kolo Muani, who scored his first Champions League goal for PSG, and his teammate Lee Kang-In, who scored his first goal for the club to end AC Milan’s hope to win. Ousmane Dembele was close to scoring his first goal for PSG, but due to a foul before his shot, the goal wasn’t allowed and his goal count remains at zero.
Newcastle wasn’t able to follow up on their victory against PSG, losing to Dortmund 1-0, who were standing last in the group with only one point before the game. Although Newcastle seemed to be dominating possession of the ball throughout the game, both teams had a similar number of opportunities to score. Dortmund had better luck and won the low-scoring game.
The big team that was struggling the most during this group stage was Manchester United, who registered two losses in the two first matchdays. They played against Copenhagen on Tuesday, and was able to avoid the third loss. While the game was initially calm due to a lacking offensive attack from the Red Devils, Harry Maguire scored a header to open the score in the second half. After Manchester thought they had the win, midfielder Scott McTominay was called for a penalty six minutes into extra time, giving Copenhagen a scoring opportunity. Manchester’s dream was close to becoming a nightmare, but goalkeeper Andre Onana, who has otherwise underachieved this season, stopped the kick and became the hero of the night, winning three points for United.
McTominay isn’t the only player who put his team at risk, as Rodrigo DePaul of Atletico Madrid unnecessarily fouled a player, receiving a red card and leaving his team with ten men for the last ten minutes of the game against Celtic. The decision of the referee to give DePaul the red card made sense, as DePaul tackled a Celtic player while Atletico was on the offensive attack. Atletico trailed Celtic, who had zero points before this game, from the third minute onwards, until the Colchoneros were finally awarded a penalty. Griezmann, who is on an excellent scoring streak, was able to capitalize, tying the game at last. But right before half time, Celtic scored again, leaving Atletico behind once again, until Alvaro Morata scored to tie the game, leaving each team with only a point towards their group standings. Atletico now stand second of their group as they tied twice and won once since the beginning of the competition.
The Champions League will return on November 7th for the start of the fourth matchday. With only three games left , look for teams to improve their play as they close in on a top seed for the championship tournament.
Current groups standings after MatchDay 3:
Sophomore Agathe Vanmassenhove is a Sports Reporter. Her email is email@example.com.