December is just starting, and it’s one round of the Champions League group stage remaining. But some teams have already sealed their first positions and qualified to the last 16.
Some of them are the clear favourites to win the tournament, according to many bookmakers, including LV BET (review is available here https://bookmaker-ratings.com/review/lv-bet-bookmaker-review-rules-support-sign-up-free-bets-site/). The odds are understandable: some teams have won the trophy some years before, the others have played in the final a couple of years earlier. Let’s meet these European best clubs, who secured the first positions in their groups with one round advantage.
In 2019 Erik ten Hag managed to get his team to the semifinal. It was a triumph for the many players who later moved to other European top clubs. Frenkie de Jong found himself in Barcelona after scoring four goals in that campaign. Hakim Ziyech transferred to Chelsea, and Matthijs de Ligt moved to Juventus.
A Dutch manager needed a couple of seasons to replace the missing pieces of the puzzle, but it all works perfectly yet again. All the players are good under pressure, and five wins in five matches is perfect evidence of that. Sébastien Haller feels comfortable in his first Champions League season, scoring nine goals: a record for a debut.
The only player who could match Haller was none other than the Striker of the Year, according to France Football, Robert Lewandowski. With 82 goals in the Champions League, the Polish forward sealed third place in the list of all-time tournament scorers after Cristiano Ronaldo (140) and Lionel Messi (123).
Five wins make Bayern the leader of the group, but the last round would be very intriguing. German superclub will play home against Barcelona, who must win to qualify for the last 16. If Benfica overcomes Dynamo Kyiv and Messi home club lose points, the Portugals go through in second place. Xavi will get a chance to obtain Europa League Trophy.
Jürgen Klopp squad got into a “group of death” with Porto, Milan and Atlético. With 15 points, Liverpool presented themselves as a force to be reckoned with, according to their result and position. Don’t be deceived by the numbers, though: the opponents made it hard to get those points.
The most prolific advantage for the Reds was the fitness of the attacking trio and, most importantly, Mo Salah. Egypt forward is at the top of his talent and shows the best of his pace and dribbling this season.
United is not at its best in the current Premier League season, which is why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lost his job. But before that, they saw justification in the Champions League. The most important match, though, was played without the Norwegian coach. Michael Carrick has shown that he is a perfect interim manager and won a game against Villareal, securing first place with ten points.
Cristiano Ronaldo, the star of the tournament, proved himself once more, scoring in every game total of six goals. His last one in Spain sealed the three points and the place in the last 16 for United.
After skipping on the trophy last year, Pep Guardiola is full of confidence this season. Even without number 9, his team scored 17 goals, the second after Bayern (19). Imagine how much it would be if Cityzens arranged the transfers of Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo, how they planned this summer.
The only loss they conceived was from PSG, the other four games ended in a win resulting in first place in a group for City with 12 points. The last won’t mean a thing: the Mbappe-Neymar-Messi trio is already in the round of 16 too, so their match against Club Brugge would be somewhat of a friendly game. Manchester City, though, will play away with Leipzig, who still have a chance to get to Europa League. If this game would work according to a previous one’s scenario, which ended in Guardiola’s team 6-3 win, we might see an entertaining show.