It was a fascinating round of matches in the Champions League as some teams qualified for the knockout stages while the Italian participants in the Champions League had some impressive victories.
One team that qualified for the knockout stages was Juventus in Group H who beat Real Madrid 2-0 at the Bernabeu behind two goals from Alessandro Del Piero. Real Madrid loss, combined with a Zenit St Petersburg 2-0 win at BATE Borisov means that Zenit are only two points behind Madrid. In Match Day 5, Zenit has to go to Turin to place Juve, but will Juve field a full-strength team knowing that they are already qualified for the next round? And then Zenit finishes up with a trip to the Bernabeu on Match Day 6 in a game that could decide second place in the group.
One Italian team that missed missed the chance to book their place in the last 16 of the Champions League was Inter Milan who were held to a 3-3 draw by Anorthosis Famagusta. In a thrilling game, it tool a goal by Julio Cruz 10 minutes from time to rescue Inter in this one. Milan remain top of Group B, three points ahead of second-placed Anorthosis because in the other Group B game Werder Bremen were stunned 3-0 at home to Panathinaikos. The loss dropped Bremen into fourth place in the group and set up a must win game for them on Match Day 5 when they travel to play Anorthosis.
The big upset of the week was Roma’s 3-1 thrashing of Chelsea at home. Two goals from an inspired Mirko Vucinic capped off a fine display by Roma. In the other group A game, Bordeaux defeated CFR Cluj 2-1. Yoann Gourcuff handed the French outfit the lead after six minutes but Dani leveled for the hosts 10 minutes later. Chelsea lead this group by a point over Roma and Bordeaux and they face a suddenly tricky away game to Bordeaux on Match Day 5, which is followed 4 days later with a Premier League showdown with Arsenal.
Another team qualifying for the knockout stages were Barcelona who qualified even though they were held to a 1-1 draw at home against Basel. In the other game in Group C, Sporting Lisbon also progressed to the knock stages after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 behind a Vanderlei Derlei goal. Barcelona travel to Sporting on November 26th for a game that will decide who finishes first in the group.
In group D it took a controversial Steven Gerrard penalty deep into injury time to earn Liverpool a 1-1 draw with Atletico Madrid.The result almost guarantees passage for both teams to the knockout stages as Marseille and PSV Eindhoven are both sides five points shy of Liverpool and Atletico with two games to play
In Group F, Lyon and Bayern Munich are within touching distance of the knockout stages. Lyon beat Steaua Bucharest comfortably 2-+0 behind goals from Juninho and Anthony Reveillere while Bayern Munich drew 1-1 at Fiorentina. Lyon and Bayern play each other on Match Day 5 and a draw would pretty much guarantee that both teams make it into the last 16.
In Group E both Villarreal and Manchester United had disappointing draws. Villarreal were to a 2-2 draw by AaB while Manchester were held to a 1-1 in Glasgow against Celtic. Villarreal are level on eight points with Manchester United, with the two teams set to meet in Spain on November 25 with the winner of that match winning the group. Celtic travel to AaB that night knowing that a win will give them 3rd place in a group and a place in the UEFA Cup.
Another English team that struggled on Match Day 4 was Arsenal who were held to a scoreless draw by Fenerbahçe at the Emirates. Arsenal remain top of Group G but Porto closed the gap to two points though with a good 2-1 win at Dynamo Kiev behind a stoppage-time winner from Lucho Gonzalez. Kiev are sitting in 3rd place in the group and visit Arsenal on Match Day 5. That has become a must-win game for Arsenal as they finish the group stages away to Porto and they don’t want to go there need a win to qualify for the knockout stages.
Champions League Standings
Match Day 5 Schedule
11/25 Bayern v Steaua – Buy Bayern Munich – Steaua Bucharest Tickets
11/25 Fiorentina v Lyon – Buy Fiorentina – Olympique Lyonnais Tickets
11/25 Fenerbahçe v Porto – Buy Fenerbahce – FC Porto Tickets
11/25 Arsenal v Dynamo Kyiv – Buy Arsenal – Dynamo Kiev Tickets
11/25 Zenit v Juventus
11/25 Grp E Villarreal v Man. United – Buy Villarreal – Manchester United Tickets
11/25 Grp E AaB v Celtic – Buy Aalborg BK – Celtic Tickets
11/25 BATE v Real Madrid – SOLD OUT
11/26 Bordeaux v Chelsea – Buy Bordeaux – Chelsea Tickets
11/26 CFR Cluj v Roma – SOLD OUT
26/11/08 Inter Milan v Panathinaikos – Buy Inter Milan – Panathinaikos Tickets
11/26 Anorthosis v Bremen – SOLD OUT
11/26 Shakhtar v Basel – Buy Shakhtar Donetsk – FC Basel Tickets
26/11/08 Barcelona v Sporting – Buy Sporting Portugal – FC Barcelona Tickets
11/26 Atlético v PSV – Buy Atletico Madrid – PSV Eindhoven Tickets
11/26 Liverpool v Marseille – Buy Liverpool – Olympique Marseille Tickets