2023/24 Champions League: round of 16 defined

Champions League 2023/24 fase de grupos real madrid manchester city 100%

The club tournament that ignites passions worldwide, the 2023/24 Champions League, has concluded its group stage.

Join us as we review the last round, which determined the teams advancing to the Round of 16, those qualifying for the Europa League, and those heading home.

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Overview of the 2023/24 Champions League Group Stage

True to its form, the Champions League did not disappoint in the group stage.

In a final round brimming with excitement and great matches, the teams advancing to the Round of 16 have been determined.

Initially, there are some interesting points to highlight that will be explored further.

Real Madrid and Manchester City, who clashed in the semi-finals of the last two editions, were the only two teams to finish the group stage with a perfect 100% record.

Manchester United, as previously cautioned in our earlier article, failed to secure a spot even in the Europa League, finishing at the bottom of the group, just like Sevilla.

The ‘group of death’ had an electrifying final round, where Borussia Dortmund secured the top spot, and PSG qualified for the next phase.

Lastly, Real Sociedad surprised everyone, finishing as the group D leaders, surpassing Inter Milan and Benfica.

 

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Group A – Bayern Munich, Copenhagen, Galatasaray, and Manchester United

In a group where, at the outset, it seemed the two giants would comfortably qualify, only 50% of that statement holds true.

Bayern was dominant in the group, winning all their matches, except for the 0-0 draw against Copenhagen.

Meanwhile, Manchester United entered the final round needing a win against the Bavarians to dream of qualification. Things didn’t go well for them.

Copenhagen, however, was a delightful surprise in the competition. Many would have predicted them to be at the bottom of the group.

Yet, the Danish team showcased tactical brilliance. With a squad adept at scoring and defending at the right moments, they had a direct confrontation with Galatasaray at home to decide the qualification. They secured it with a 1-0 victory.

Manchester United 0 – 1 Bayern Munich

Despite needing the win desperately, the Red Devils hardly troubled the Germans.

We’re aware of Bayern Munich’s quality and style of play, aiming to maintain possession and outplay opponents, and they did so masterfully.

When Manchester United had the ball, they struggled to penetrate the opponent’s defense. The few threats they posed were through shots from outside the box.

Bayern Munich’s goal came at the 71st minute through Coman, a player who could be considered underrated. Especially in the Champions League, he manages to score crucial goals frequently, as witnessed in the club’s last title, where the Frenchman’s goal secured victory over PSG.

The goal-scoring play also highlighted other crucial points. Firstly, the ball lingered around Manchester United’s midfield for some time. Ten Hag’s team couldn’t regain possession despite having opportunities. They lost duels and seemed sluggish.

Coman, unfazed by this, managed to stitch the play together, exchanging passes with Harry Kane, leaving him facing the goal to slot the ball home.

Harry Kane is another name worth praising. Despite a good start, he continues to improve his performances, showcasing increased cohesion with the rest of the team. This goal marks an important milestone in this regard.

Kingsley Coman talks Harry Kane's Bayern Munich integration - Bavarian Football Works

Image: T. Kieslich/FC Bayern via Getty Images

Group B – Arsenal, PSV, Lens, and Sevilla

Initially, it seemed Arsenal would secure the top spot with a fierce battle for second place between PSV and Sevilla.

However, no one anticipated such a disappointing performance from the current seven-time Europa League champions, Sevilla.

The Andalusian team entered the final round needing a win against Lens away from home to secure a Europa League spot, a competition where they usually excel.

Yet, that wasn’t to be. They were defeated in France 2-1, concluding their Champions League campaign with a dismal two points and at the bottom of the group.

Arsenal comfortably secured the top position with 13 points.

The battle for the second spot, although seemingly contested, relied on the match between Lens and Sevilla. In case Lens won against Sevilla and PSV lost to Arsenal, both the French and Dutch sides would tie on points.

However, considering the head-to-head result as the tiebreaker, PSV claimed a win and a draw against Lens, eliminating the French team’s chances of progressing.

Nevertheless, Lens had an impressive Champions League group stage and stands a good chance in the Europa League.

Gabriel Jesus continua como desfalque no Arsenal

Image: Reproduction Umdois

Group C – Real Madrid, Napoli, Braga, and Union Berlin

Here, there were no surprises.

This doesn’t mean the battle for the second spot wasn’t thrilling.

Looking at the points, Real Madrid was dominant, winning all their matches with 18 points. Napoli followed with 10 points, and Braga with 4.

Despite the six-point difference between Italians and Portuguese, the final round was a direct clash between them.

To qualify, Braga needed a win against Napoli to equalize points and head-to-head, as Napoli had won their match in Portugal 2-1.

Considering these factors, the Portuguese team had to overcome a significant goal difference against the current Italian champions, playing at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium.

The chances, already slim, were dashed with Napoli’s convincing 2-0 victory.

Real Madrid closed the group stage reaffirming their dominance with a 3-2 win against Union Berlin in Germany.

Braga x Real Madrid: Como foi a partida da Liga dos Campeões

Image: Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Group D – Real Sociedad, Inter Milan, Benfica, and Red Bull Salzburg

This group showcased significant balance, albeit in two halves.

Real Sociedad and Inter Milan fought neck to neck for the top spot, while Benfica and RB Salzburg aimed for a Europa League spot.

Coincidentally, the final round featured direct clashes between them.

Benfica, needing a victory away against Salzburg to qualify for the Europa League, lived up to their reputation, winning the game 3-1.

Meanwhile, the Spanish and Italian teams settled for a goalless draw in Milan, maintaining the previous positions, keeping the Basque side at the top.

A historic qualification.

Goal.com Brasil

Image: Getty Images

Group E – Atletico Madrid, Lazio, Feyenoord, and Celtic

The final round of this group had already confirmed qualifications.

The only thing left to determine was the group’s top spot between Atletico Madrid and Lazio.

This was decided in a head-to-head clash.

The Spaniards needed just a draw to secure the top position. Nonetheless, they didn’t relent against the Italians, securing a 2-0 win at home.

Feyenoord lost 2-1 to Celtic, giving the Scottish side their first victory in the competition.

Despite this, the Dutch team qualified for the Europa League.

Griezmann & Atlético host Real Sociedad in a battle of in-form teams - Into the Calderon

Image: Alvaro Medranda/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Group F – Borussia Dortmund, PSG, AC Milan, and Newcastle

The infamous ‘group of death’ lived up to its name, reaching the final round with multiple qualification possibilities.

Borussia Dortmund needed a draw against PSG to secure the top spot. Meanwhile, Milan and Newcastle battled in England while keeping an eye on the match in Germany.

Borussia Dortmund 1 – 1 PSG

Paris knew they had to win to eliminate any chance of not making it to the Round of 16. Furthermore, a win would put them at the top of the group.

They entered the field with this mindset.

After the initial 10 minutes, which saw opportunities for both sides, PSG took control, exerting immense pressure on Dortmund.

At the 16th minute, a spectacular moment, one that will surely go down in this edition’s history and that of the competition.

Mbappé beat the goalkeeper and, with the goal seemingly open, took a left-footed shot. The goal seemed certain, but only seemingly.

Defender Sule, like an arrow, slid in, blocking the ball’s path. What makes this moment iconic is that just before reaching the goal, the ball bounced up.

In an inexplicable reflex, Sule lifted his leg and prevented the goal.

After significant chances for both sides, the first half concluded.

In the second half, Dortmund pressed PSG’s backline, which proved effective.

Repetitive errors by Hakimi this season have been noticeable. The Moroccan full-back, as seen against Newcastle, made a crucial mistake in the build-up, passing a dreadful ball back to Marquinhos.

The defender managed to rectify the error, but the ball came back to Hakimi, easily dispossessed. The ball was crossed, finding Adeyemi to slot it into the corner, giving the Germans the lead at 51′.

Special mention goes to Fuellkrug for a splendid play and assist.

At this point, PSG was on the brink of elimination as, in Newcastle, they were losing 1-0 to Milan.

But the Parisian despair didn’t last long. Mbappé, once again, made a brilliant move from the left and played a ball towards the penalty spot. Dortmund’s defense cleared poorly, landing the ball to Zaire-Emery.

The 17-year-old midfielder, with confidence, struck from the edge of the box, levelling the game and putting PSG back on track for qualification.

But that wasn’t all. With the draw and Newcastle’s win, the English side would advance as they both would reach 8 points, but Newcastle would go through on head-to-head.

PSG relied on luck as they had more chances to turn the game around, even having a goal disallowed due to Mbappé’s offside.

The French team should be thankful to Milan for their qualification, as we’ll see below.

Newcastle 1 – 2 Milan

A game with a Champions League vibe.

It was an open contest between two excellent teams, both eager to qualify at any cost.

Newcastle opened the scoring at the 32nd minute. In a well-crafted move, typical of their style, Joelinton received the ball at the edge of the box and unleashed a screamer into the top corner, a stunning goal.

At this point, with the ongoing 0-0 in Germany, Newcastle was on course for qualification.

However, one of football’s beauties lies in its unpredictability and how things can change within seconds.

In the second half’s start, Borussia Dortmund equalized at 51′. This further solidified the English side’s chances of progressing.

However, in a span of nine minutes, they went from ecstasy to agony.

As if PSG’s equalizer at 55′ wasn’t enough, the American Pulisic levelled the game for Milan at 59′.

As a result, the Northern English club went from being set for the knockout stages to securing a spot in the Europa League.

But things got worse. At 84′, Chukwueze, who came on as a substitute, scored the winner for Milan.

With the win, Milan moved to third place, level on points with PSG, but failing to qualify on head-to-head. Nevertheless, the Milanese secured at least a spot in the Europa League, though it might not match the club’s stature.

Borussia Dortmund vs PSG: Live stream, TV channel, kick-off time & where to watch | Goal.com US

Image: Reproduction Goal

Group G – Manchester City, RB Leipzig, Young Boys, and Red Star Belgrade

Undoubtedly, the most predictable group, where everything unfolded as expected.

Manchester City travelled to Belgrade for their final match against Red Star Belgrade. Despite fielding many reserves, they won 3-2, maintaining a 100% record.

The final round arrived with all positions already determined. City and Leipzig advanced, Young Boys secured Europa League football, and Red Star Belgrade returned to Serbia.

Young Boys 1-3 Man City: Erling Haaland nets brace in all-too familiar Champions League win for holders | Evening Standard

Image: Getty Images

Group H – Barcelona, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Royal Antwerp

The group was primarily marked by two aspects.

Firstly, the utterly insane battle for the second position between Porto and Shakhtar.

Secondly, the disappointing performance of Barcelona, failing to assert dominance in the competition as they have in the past.

Portuguese and Ukrainian sides had equal points and faced each other in Porto.

Porto had the advantage of winning the away leg 3-1 and had the luxury of deciding the fate of the match on home soil.

However, if Shakhtar won by a certain margin, they would qualify.

In summary, the match was a true rollercoaster. The Portuguese side won 5-3 and secured their qualification.

Barcelona, on the other hand, qualified in first place with the same 12 points as Porto but concluded the group stage with a loss to Royal Antwerp, a team that had yet to secure a win in the tournament. The scoreline was 3-2 in favor of the Belgians.

Shakhtar qualified for the Europa League.

FC Barcelona players registered for the 2023/24 Champions League

Image: Reproduction FC Barcelona

Authored by Vitor F L Miller.

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