By Agathe Vanmassenhove || Sports Reporter
This week, the Champions League was back after the international break and the European competition did not disappoint. We are now almost done with the group stage as Matchday 5 took place on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th of November, leaving one last Matchday before the tournament in February.
As of now, almost all the qualification spots are taken by the first two teams standing in each group. In total 12 teams qualified, with this week’s newly qualifying teams including FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Dortmund, PSV and Arsenal. Four more teams will qualify during Match Day 6 as 16 teams must advance to the next round. Now the goal for the teams that qualified is to secure the first spot in the group, setting them up for an easier matchup during the tournament.
Back on the team’s performances, after losing during Matchday 4, Barcelona had to win against Porto to qualify and reach first place in their group. After a difficult few weeks with weak performances, the Blaugranas won 2-1 and qualified after two years of missing the Champions League tournament. With the comeback of Frenkie De Jong, who had been injured for two months, the team was more balanced even if their game still lacked precision. Both Joao Felix and Joao Cancelo were the heroes and qualified Barcelona, who was first being led by the Portuguese team. Barcelona can thank two heroes for the victory, with Joao Cancelo scoring just two minutes after the team let up a goal on defense, and Joao Felix later scoring to give them the lead for good.
On the British side, Arsenal won their spot by beating Lens 6-0. Lens had been optimistic with their results since the beginning of the competition but unfortunately for them, reality kicked in. Five goals were scored in the first half alone, before a second-half penalty converted by Jorginho ended all hopes for Lens to qualify for the next round. In the same group, PSV qualified as the runner-up. Lens now faces relegation if they lose to Sevilla, the current Europa League champions. In the Champions League, the worst team in each group is sent to play in the Europa League, a less-prestigious European league.
Knowing this, Manchester United is in a concerning situation as they are fourth in their group after a tie against Galatasaray. United was leading the game 2-0 in the 20th minute, but by half time the score was tied up. United scored quickly out of halftime, but the Red Devil’s didn’t give up and managed to tie 3-3, leaving both teams with one point each. United needs a win during the last Matchday to hope to qualify for the Europa League and not be eliminated, but the Red Devils will be facing Bayern, the current leaders of the group. Even if they win the game, their possible third spot will depend on Galatasaray’s performance against Copenhaguen.
PSG almost got sent to the Europa League as they were down 1-0 for most of their game against Newcastle. It wasn’t until a last-minute penalty converted by Mbappe gave the French team a tie, and allowed them to keep the second spot of the group. With Dortmund already qualified with the first spot, PSG will need to win their last game to hold off Newcastle and AC Milan from the second place spot.
Finally, Real Madrid was struggling at first against Naples, but the team ended up winning 4-2. In a great moment of sportsmanship, Jude Bellingham set up his teammate Joselu with a beautiful assist, setting up his teammate to score, despite Joselu’s earlier struggles in the game. In addition, the 19-year-old, Nico Paz, scored his first goal for his former club at the professional level.
The final Matchday of the group stage will be held on the 12th and 13th of December, a week before the draw for the round of 16.
Current group standings after MatchDay 5:
Sophomore Agathe Vanmassenhove is a Sports Reporter. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org