Arsenal Champions League

Champions League Matchday 5 Preview

The group stages are coming to a close, with the fates of some clubs still to be decided.

The UEFA Champions League is the most prestigious competition in club football, and the end of the group stages are in sight in the 2023/24 iteration of Europe’s premier competition. The action so far has proved to be enthralling, and whilst some have already ensured their place in the round of 16 with two matches remaining, others still have work to do to qualify.

Let’s start with the clubs who have already secured a spot in the top two of their group. From Group A, only Bayern Munich have qualified for the Round of 16 after winning all four matches so far, earning them 12 points. The Bavarian heavyweights are 8 points clear of FC Copenhagen in second place.

The top two spots are still up for grabs in Group B, whilst in Group C, Real Madrid are the only club to secure a top two place. Italian Champions Napoli are on the brink of confirming their place in the next round with 7 points and a 4 point gap separating themselves and third place Braga with just two matches to go.

The clubs that will participate in the Round of 16 from Group D have already been decided, with Real Sociedad and Inter Milan locked together on 10 points each. Salzburg in third and Benfica in fourth now have no chance to reach the next stage.

The fates of the clubs in Group E, just like Group B, are also very much up in the air – Atletico Madrid are top, but they are only a point ahead of Lazio and 2 points ahead of Dutch giants Feyenoord after four matches.

It is the same story in Group F, with Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, and Newcastle United all having a realistic chance of finding themselves in the top two at the end of the 2023/24 Champions League Group Stages.

The top two spots in Group G have been decided with Manchester City on 12 points and Germany’s RB Leipzig on 9. Pep Guardiola’s Cityzens are 11 points ahead of 3rd place Red Star Belgrade and 4th place BSC Young Boys with only two games to go.

Finally, Group H is still wide open. FC Barcelona and FC Porto are in the top two and locked on 9 points, but they are both only 3 points clear of Shakhtar Donetsk in third place. Belgian Champions Royal Antwerp have no chance of qualifying for the Round Of 16 after collecting no points from their opening four matches.

Now, let’s look ahead to all of the UEFA Champions League matches set to take place on Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th November 2023, starting with Manchester City’s home game against RB Leipzig.

Manchester City (England) v RB Leipzig (Germany) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 20:00

As mentioned, Manchester City have already secured their place in the Round Of 16 with 12 points from their 6 matches. There is still something for the Cityzens to play for, though, as if they do indeed secure another vital win against RB Leipzig, they will confirm their status as winners of Group G. This would give them a better chance of drawing a ‘weaker’ team in the Round Of 16.

The last time that the giants of Germany and England met was in Leipzig on 4th October, where City won 3 – 1 thanks to goals from Phil Foden (25’), Julian Alvarez (84’) and Jeremy Doku (90+2’).

Manchester City’s remaining UEFA Champions League fixtures:

Paris Saint Germain (France) v Newcastle United (England) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 20:00

The only other Premier League side to play on Tuesday will be Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United, who make the trip to Paris to face reigning French Ligue 1 Champions Paris Saint Germain at the iconic Parc des Princes on 28th November. The Magpies may be bottom of Group F, but with a win, they could leapfrog PSG into second place should results go their way.

Newcastle’s last meeting against their Parisian counterparts came on 4th October 2023, and it saw Howe’s side secure a 4 – 1 statement win at St. James’ Park. Miguel Almiron (17’), Dan Burn (39’), Sean Longstaff (50’) and Fabian Schar (90+1’) were all on target for the Magpies that night. Defender Lucas Hernandez got a consolation goal for the French visitors early in the second half (56’).

Lazio (Italy) v Celtic (Scotland) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 17:45

Italian Giants Lazio and current Scottish Champions Celtic will meet on matchday five of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The Bhoys have a small chance of making it into the top two in their group – should they beat Lazio, they will move on to seven points and be in third should results go their way. They would then have a slight chance of jumping into the top two on matchday six.

Celtic and Lazio last met on Matchday Two at Celtic Park where Brendan Rodgers’ side were unlucky to lose the game 2 – 1. Kyogo Furuhashi gave the Bhoys the lead (12’) before Le Aquile (The Eagles) got their equaliser through Matias Vecino in the first half before the late winner was scored by former Chelsea forward Pedro in second half stoppage time (90+5’).

Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) v Royal Antwerp (Belgium) – Tuesday, 28th November 2023, 17:45

Following a shock 1 – 0 win against Spanish Giants and five-time European Champions FC Barcelona last time out, Ukrainian Champions Shakhtar Donetsk have the chance to go level on points with Porto should they lose against Barcelona. As for Royal Antwerp, the reigning Belgian Champions are officially out of the Champions League now that they are 9 points adrift of the top two with only 6 points available from the final two 2023/24 Group Stage matches.

These two clubs last met on matchday two in October 2023. It was Shakhtar Donetsk who won 3 – 2 away from home after Danylo Sikan (48’, 76’) and Yaroslav Rakitskyi (71’) on the scoresheet for the visitors. Antwerp scored thanks to Arbnor Muja (3’) and Michel-Ange Balikwisha (34’).

Feyenoord (Netherlands) v Atletico Madrid (Spain) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 20:00

Atletico Madrid is leading the way in a tight and very competitive Group E. They are 2 points ahead of their next opponent, Feyenoord, and if Diego Simeone leads his side to another victory, their spot in the top two and the Round of 16 will be assured. Feyenoord can leapfrog Lazio and Atletico if they win and Lazio lose or draw with Celtic.

Feyenoord and Atletico last met on 4th October (Matchday Two) in the Spanish Capital. It was a game that the La Liga giants won 3 – 2 after goals from ex-Chelsea forward Alvaro Morata (12’, 47’) and 2018 World Cup winner Antoine Griezmann (45+3’).

AC Milan (Italy) v Borussia Dortmund (Germany) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 20:00

AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are the other two teams that are part of a very tight and competitive Group F. Dortmund currently lead the way with 7 points from 4 matches with just a one point lead over PSG in second, a 2 point lead on their next opponents AC Milan, and they are also 3 points clear of Newcastle in fourth. If the Germans win, they will secure their place in the Round of 16, whereas if Milan win, they will leapfrog Dortmund into first place with one match to go.

The last time that these two giants of European football met was back on Matchday Two (4th October) when they played out a 0 – 0 draw at the Signal Iduna Park.

BSC Young Boys (Switzerland) v Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 20:00

Swiss Champions BSC Young Boys and one-time Champions of Europe Red Star Belgrade are both out of the Champions League, with both clubs 8 points adrift of RB Leipzig and 11 points adrift of Group G leaders Manchester City with only two matches to go. These two clubs are now in a direct battle for third place that would see the team that finishes there remain in Europe by qualifying for the knockout rounds of the UEFA Europa League.

Whichever club wins this crucial game will sit in third place going into the sixth and final matchday of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages. The last time that these two clubs met was at the Wankdorf Stadium on 4th October when they drew 2 – 2. Cherif Ndiaye (35’) and Osman Bukari (88’) scored for Red Star, whilst Filip Ugrinic (48’) and Cedric Itten (61’ – Penalty) scored for the Swiss side.

FC Barcelona (Spain) v FC Porto (Portugal) – Tuesday 28th November 2023, 20:00

The top two clubs from Group H are going head to head in matchday five of this year’s Group Stages. Both are on 9 points, and the winner of this match will confirm their qualification for the Round of 16 with the top spot up for grabs on matchday six. If either club loses, they risk third place Shakhtar Donetsk moving level on points with them should they beat Belgium’s Royal Antwerp.

These two heavyweights of European football last met at the Estadio do Dragao in early October 2023, when the Blaugrana were able to beat their Portuguese counterparts 1 – 0 thanks to a goal from former Valencia and Manchester City forward Ferran Torres in first half stoppage time (45+1’).

Let’s now move on to the 8 games taking place on Wednesday, 29th November 2023, starting with Arsenal’s match against French Ligue 1 Club RC Lens at the Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal (England) v RC Lens (France) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 20:00

Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal currently sit top of Group B after accumulating 9 points from their first four 2023/24 Group Stage matches. This leaves them 4 points clear of PSV Eindhoven in second and their next opponents, RC Lens, on 5 points apiece. 7 points separate the Gunners and Sevilla in fourth. A win for the North London club will see them secure their place in the Round of 16.

When Arsenal last met Lens, it was away from home in France in October. Arteta’s Gunners narrowly lost 2 – 1, scoring their only goal through Brazil international forward Gabriel Jesus early in the first half (14’). Adrien Thomasson (25’) and Elye Wahi (69’) both scored for the hosts.

Arsenal’s remaining UEFA Champions League fixtures:

Galatasaray (Turkey) v Manchester United (England) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 19:45

Group A is very tight and competitive, and even though they are bottom of their group, Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United are just a point adrift of their next opponents, Galatasaray in third place and FC Copenhagen in second place. If the Red Devils collect all three points in Istanbul, they will leapfrog Galatasaray and potentially Copenhagen into second place should results go their way.

The most recent UEFA Champions League match between these two clubs occurred on 3rd October 2023, with United losing 3 – 2 at Old Trafford. Rasmus Højlund scored for the home side (17’, 67’), whilst it was ex-Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha (23’), Muhammed Kerem Akturkoglu (71’) and Mauro Icardi (81’) who found the back of the net for the Turkish giants.

Manchester United’s remaining UEFA Champions League fixtures:

Sevilla (Spain) v PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 17:45

Sevilla and PSV are both still in the hunt for a spot in the top two of Group B. PSV are closer and consequently looking more likely to do so than their Spanish counterparts because they are sat second with 5 points, in comparison to Sevilla, who are bottom of the group with just 2 points. If PSV wins, they will strengthen their hopes of a top-two finish, but this will have to be decided on the sixth and final matchday, no matter what happens on Wednesday evening.

These two clubs last met in the UEFA Champions League on matchday 2 when the two clubs drew 2 – 1 at the Philips Stadion. Luuk de Jong (86’ – Penalty) and Jordan Teze (90+5’) scored for the home side, whilst it was Nemanja Gudelj (68’) and Yousef En-Nesyri (87’) who found the net for Sevilla on the night.

Bayern Munich (Germany) v FC Copenhagen (Denmark) – Wednesday, 29th November 2023, 20:00

German giant Bayern Munich are the only team to have secured a top two spot and a place in the Round of 16 from Group A. The Bavarians have 12 points and are 8 ahead of Copenhagen and Galatasaray in second and third place, respectively – this means they are also already group winners. If Bayern beat Copenhagen again, they will collect their fifth consecutive Champions League win. As for Copenhagen, if they produce a shock win against their German counterparts, they will remain second.

The Champions of Germany and Denmark last met in European football’s premier competition back on Tuesday, 3rd October 2023, and it saw Thomas Tuchel, formerly of Chelsea, lead his side to a 2 – 1 win, with Jamal Musiala (67’) and Mathys Tel (83’) on the scoresheet for the Bavarian Giants. Lukas Lerager scored the only goal for Copenhagen that day (55’).

Real Madrid (Spain) v Napoli (Italy) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 20:00 (H3)

14 time European Champions Real Madrid are the only club from Group C to have secured their place in the Round Of 16 with 12 points from 4 matches. They are 6 clear of 2nd place Napoli, their next opponents on matchday five. Los Blancos would extend their lead on their Italian counterparts with a win, while Napoli would officially qualify for the round of 16.

Real Madrid were 3 – 2 winners in Naples when they last played against each other in the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages on 3rd October (Matchday Two). Vinicius Junior, Jude Bellingham and an own goal from Alex Meret secured the three goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, whilst Leo Ostigard (formerly of Brighton) and Piotr Zielinski (54’ – Penalty) got the goals for Napoli.

Braga (Portugal) v Union Berlin (Germany) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 20:00

Braga and Union Berlin are going head to head with each other on matchday five of this year’s competition. Union are essentially out with 6 points separating them and 2nd, and adding to this goal difference makes it unlikely that they will finish in the top two. As for Braga, their chances are slim too, but if they win against Union and Napoli lose to Real Madrid, they will have a chance of progressing to the Round Of 16 on the sixth and final matchday.

These two clubs last met in this competition in early October in Berlin. Braga won 3 – 2, with Sikou Niakate (41’), Bruma (51’) and Andre Castro scoring for the Portuguese side. As for Union Berlin, Suriname international Sheraldo Becker scored a brace for his side (30’, 37’).

Benfica (Portugal) v Inter Milan (Italy) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 20:00

Benfica are set to host Inter Milan at the Estadio da Luz on the fifth and penultimate matchday. Benfica, two-time Champions of Europe, are officially out of this season’s Champions League, sitting bottom with no points. They can finish third and qualify for the UEFA Europa League with two wins, starting with their game against Inter Milan, if results go their way.

Inter Milan were 1 – 0 winners when these two clubs last met on 3rd October, with French forward Marcus Thuram scoring the only goal of the game at the midway point of the second half (62’).

Real Sociedad (Spain) v RB Salzburg (Austria) – Wednesday 29th November 2023, 20:00

Real Sociedad have been flying in the Champions League this season with three wins and a draw from their first four matches, leaving them with 10 points, level with Inter Milan in second. As they are already in the Round of 16, Real can enhance their hopes of being the winners of Group D with a win against RB Salzburg.

Speaking of RB Salzburg, they can qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Europa League by finishing third, and they can do so if they beat their Spanish counterparts and if Benfica lose too.

Excitement and anticipation are growing ahead of the resumption of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages.

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