UEFA Champions League Round-Up: Ajax and Inter Among Favorites to Advance

Champions League Round-Up
(L-R) Franco Cervi of SL Benfica, Lasse Schone of Ajax, Hakim Ziyech of Ajax, Noussair Mazraoui of Ajax, Dusan Tadic of Ajax Klaas Jan Huntelaar of Ajax, Matthijs de Ligt of Ajax during the UEFA Champions League group E match between Ajax Amsterdam and SL Benfica at the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 23, 2018 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)

Halfway through the UEFA Champions League Group Stage and we find ourselves with a few surprises. While most of the favourites at this point have separated themselves from the pack and put themselves in a great position to advance into the Champions League Knockout rounds, a few surprise teams have also managed to put themselves in a great position at the halfway point. Here is your Champions League round-up.

UEFA Champions League Round-Up: Matchday Three

Currently sitting in qualifying positions at the halfway point of the group stage campaign, both Inter Milan and Ajax have shocked the experts.

With Inter currently five points clear of both Tottenham and PSV for the final qualifying position in Group B, the Italian side looks all but set to progress out of the Champions League Group Stage for the first time since the 2011/12 campaign.

Also performing above expectations so far is Ajax. Currently sitting atop of Group E and four points clear of third place Benfica, Ajax have placed themselves in an excellent position for the second half of the group stage campaign.

However, to expand on this as well as the performance of the other clubs involved in this year’s Champions League, lets get to the main part of this story and take a look at this edition of the UEFA Champions League round-up.

Group A

Club Brugge 1-1 AS Monaco

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Atletico Madrid

Standings: 1. Dortmund 9pts, 2. Atletico 6pts, 3. Club Brugge 1pts, 4. Monaco 1pts

With the group looking already decided as far as the Champions League knockout phase positions go, all that was left to be decided on this matchday was just which club would control the top spot heading into the second half of the group stage campaign.

Earning a 4-0 win at home, Dortmund made a point to prove that they are the dominant club in this group as a strong second half performance propelled them to victory over Atletico Madrid.

As far as the battle for the Europa League position goes, Monaco have put themselves in a good position as they earned a 1-1 draw in Belgium against Club Brugge.

Group B

Barcelona 2-0 Inter Milan

PSV 2-2 Tottenham

Standings: 1. Barcelona 9pts, 2. Inter 6pts, 3. Tottenham 1pts, 4. PSV 1pts

Before the group stage began, many would have expected to see Barcelona topping the group at the halfway point. Recording three wins in three matches, the Catalonia club earned another win on the third matchday as they topped Inter Milan 2-0.

However, what almost no one predicted was for that same Inter club to find themselves second in the group with two wins over both Tottenham and PSV. Even more shocking is Spurs, whose only point came in a 2-2 draw on the most recent matchday against PSV.

With five points separating Inter from Spurs at the moment, the London based club will be hard pressed to fight their way into the knockout phase of the competition.

Group C

Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Napoli

Liverpool 4-0 Red Star Belgrade

Standings: 1. Liverpool 6pts, 2. Napoli 5pts, 3. PSG 4pts, 4. Red Star 1pt

Earning a thumping 4-0 victory over Red Star Belgrade at Anfield on Wednesday night, Liverpool put themselves back atop of Group C following their matchday two slip-up against Napoli. Overall, the match was a major mismatch and proved that when Liverpool truly want to compete, they could be one of the best clubs in this year’s competition.

Also taking place on Wednesday, Napoli managed to earn a strong 2-2 draw against Paris Saint-Germain in Paris, a result that will potentially allow the Italian based club to control their own destiny for the remainder of the group stage campaign.

Group D

Galatasaray 0-0 Schalke

Lokomotiv Moscow 1-3 Porto

Standings: 1. Porto 7pts, 2. Schalke 5pts, 3. Galatasaray 4pts, 4. Lokomotiv Moscow 0pts

Entering Group D as the top-seeded club during the Champions League Draw, Lokomotiv Moscow have proven to be a complete flop in this year’s competition. Losing each of their first three matches including a 3-1 home defeat to FC Porto on the third matchday, Lokomotiv find themselves all but out of continental competition at this stage.

However, while the defending Russian League champs have completely flopped, Group D looks set to provide us with a great battle at the top with first place Porto leading third-place Galatasaray by only three points at this stage.

While the Turkish club could have helped themselves a lot more had they not drawn the most recent match against Schalke, both clubs remain in striking distance of Porto as we hit the halfway point of the group stage.

Group E

Ajax 1-0 Benfica

AEK Athens 0-2 Bayern Munich

Standings: 1. Ajax 7pts, 2. Bayern 7pts, 3. Benfica 3pts, 4. AEK 0pts

As we talked about earlier, Group E thus far has provided us with one of the bigger shocks of the competition.

Currently leading the group thanks to their away draw at Bayern, Ajax find themselves currently four points to the good in the battle to qualify for the Champions League knockout rounds. Earning three of those points on Wednesday, Ajax managed to net a late game-winning strike to down Benfica.

Also of note in Group E was Bayern Munich’s 2-0 win over AEK Athens, likely assuring the Greek club of a last-placed finish in the group.

Group F

 Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Manchester City

Hoffenheim 3-3 Olympique Lyon 

Standings: 1. Man City 6 pts, 2. Lyon 5pts, 3. Hoffenheim 2 pts, 4. Shakhtar Donetsk 2pts

Featuring potentially the most thrilling match of the third matchday, Group F featured an amazing match between Hoffenheim and Olympique Lyon. With clubs eager to secure their status as the second best club in this group, it was all out war between France and Germany.

In the end, though, both sides had to settle for a 3-3 draw and a single point for each. While this was going on though, Manchester City finally managed to place themselves atop the group as they headed to Ukraine and took down Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0.

Group G

AS Roma 3-0 CSKA Moscow

Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen

Standings: 1. Real Madrid 6pts, 2. Roma 6pts, 3. CSKA 4pts, 4. Viktoria Plzen 1pt

Continuing to struggle in both their domestic league and Europe, Real Madrid just managed to earn a 2-1 victory over plucky Viktoria Plzen on Wednesday night. Despite earning the full three points, the result continues to show just how out of sorts the Spanish Giants are at the moment.

On the other hand, Roma continued their demolition derby like performances as they earned a 3-0 victory over CSKA Moscow, giving themselves a whopping 8-0 goals scored to goals allowed ratio over the last two Champions League matches.

Group H

Young Boys 1-1 Valencia

Manchester United 0-1 Juventus

Standings: 1. Juventus 9pts, 2. Man United 4pts, 3. Valencia 2pts, 4. Young Boys 1pt

What can you say about Manchester United at this stage? Putting in a poor effort in their first major test of the campaign against Juventus, the Red Devils let their home supporters down hard as they suffered a drab 1-0 defeat to the Cristiano Ronaldo and his Italian based side.

Moreso, while Juventus have put themselves clear atop the group, United remain at risk of falling into the clutches of both Valencia and Young Boys who both shared a point in their 1-1 draw on Wednesday.

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