The third round of group stage matches have now been played, with some teams strengthening their bids for a place in the next round.
This week, club football’s premier competition continued. Now, we are at the halfway point of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages, and some of the best players and teams from across Europe are going head to head for a spot in the top two of their group, which would see them secure passage to the Round of 16. Whilst the top two places are being fought over, teams will prefer the top spot, as this will see them involved in a potentially ‘easier’ tie in the next Round.
This is because the leader of a group will face the runners-up of another group. Whether they face an ‘easier’ draw depends on who finishes second, as some of the biggest clubs may find themselves finishing there.
Action in Matchday Three of this year’s UEFA Champions League competition took place over two days earlier this week. 16 matches took place, with 8 games on Tuesday, 24th October and Wednesday, 25th October 2023. Some teams managed to get a second or third win to put them well on their way to qualification for the next round, whilst others will still have some work to do going into the final three matches in the Group Stage of this season’s competition.
Here, we will look back and review all of the Champions League action that took place this week, starting with Tuesday’s matches.
Manchester United (England) 1 – 0 Copenhagen (Denmark) – Old Trafford, Tuesday 23rd October
After defeat against German Giants Bayern Munich and Galatasaray, Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United would have been desperate to get their first group stage victory at home to Denmark’s Copenhagen.
It was a dramatic match at Old Trafford. The Red Devils took the lead through Harry Maguire, who found the back of the net with a powerful header to beat ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Kamil Grabara after a fantastic cross into the box from Diogo Dalot (72’). Drama came in second half stoppage time when United ‘keeper Andre Onana saved a penalty to seal what was a crucial win for his team.
Manchester United now sit 3rd with 3 points, whilst Copenhagen are bottom with 1 point.
Following this match, Manchester United’s final three Champions League Group Stage matches are as follows:
- Copenhagen (Away, Parken) – Wednesday 8th November, 20:00 Kick-Off.
- Galatasaray (Away, Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi) – Wednesday 29th November, 17:45 Kick-Off.
- Bayern Munich (Home, Old Trafford) – Tuesday 12th December, 20:00 Kick-Off.
Sevilla (Spain) 1 – 2 Arsenal (England) – Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán, Tuesday 23rd October
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal secured their second win in their third UEFA Champions League game in the season in Seville last night, beating Diego Alonso’s Sevilla 2 – 1. Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli gave the Gunners the advantage in first-half stoppage time (45+4’), firing it into the back of the net after a great pass into his feet from compatriot Gabriel Jesus.
Jesus got the goal to double his team’s advantage spectacularly, curling the ball into the top corner from just outside the penalty area early in the second half (53’). Sevilla got a goal back through Nemanja Gudelj (58’), but Arsenal held off the home side to seal the crucial win on the road.
Arsenal are now top with 6 points whilst Sevilla are third with 2 points to their name.
Following this match, Arsenal’s final three Champions League Group Stage matches are as follows:
- Sevilla (Home, Emirates Stadium) – Wednesday 8th November, 20:00 Kick-Off.
- Lens (Home, Emirates Stadium) – Wednesday 29th November, 20:00 Kick-Off.
- PSV Eindhoven (Away, Philips Stadion) – Tuesday 12th December, 17:45 Kick-Off.
Galatasaray (Turkey) 1 – 3 Bayern Munich (Germany) – Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi, Tuesday 23rd October
Bayern Munich were looking to maintain their spot at the summit of Group A with a third consecutive Group Stage win in Istanbul, and they did just that, beating Galatasaray 3 – 1 on Tuesday night. France international Kingsley Coman gave Bayern an early advantage (8’) before the home side found their equaliser through Mauro Icardi, who restored parity from the penalty spot after half an hour (30’).
Ex-Tottenham Hotspur forward Harry Kane restored the Bavarians’ advantage (73’) before Jamal Musiala put the game beyond doubt with just over 10 minutes remaining (79’). Bayern sit top with 9 points in Group A, whilst Galatasaray find themselves in 2nd place with 4 points to their name.
Inter Milan (Italy) 2 – 1 RB Salzburg (Austria) – San Siro, Tuesday 23rd October
Three-time European Champions Inter Milan met with Austrian Champions RB Salzburg on Tuesday night, seeking to be top of the Group D table come the end of the match. They did just that thanks to a 2 – 1 win, thanks to goals from former Arsenal and Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez (19’) and Turkish midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu, who scored from the penalty spot midway through the second half (64’).
The Nerazzurri now sit second in Group D behind Spain’s Real Sociedad. Both clubs have 7 points from 3 matches, but Inter are in the runners-up spot thanks to goal difference.
Lens (France) 1 – 1 PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands) – Stade Bollaert-Delelis, Tuesday 23rd October
Lens welcomed Dutch Giants PSV Eindhoven to the Stade Bollaert-Delelis, looking to top the group with a win. They could not do so, as the two clubs played out what was a competitive 1 – 1 draw on Tuesday night. PSV took the lead through forward Johan Bakayoko in the early stages of the second half (54’) before Lens found their equaliser through their 20-year-old striker Elye Wahi with 25 minutes remaining of the match.
Following this stalemate, Lens sit 2nd in Group B with 5 points whilst PSV Eindhoven are bottom with 2 points. They trail 3rd place Sevilla on goal difference.
Braga (Portugal) 1 – 2 Real Madrid (Spain) – Estádio Municipal de Braga, Tuesday 23rd October
14-time European Champions Real Madrid travelled to Portugal to face Braga on Tuesday evening, looking to maintain their perfect record in Group C with a third win from as many matches. Los Blancos won 2 – 1 thanks to goals from Rodrygo (16’) and ex-Birmingham City and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Jude Bellingham (61’). Spanish forward Álvaro Djaló scored Braga’s only goal of the game moments after Bellingham’s goal (63’).
Real Madrid’s third win in as many games of this year’s group stages sees them top Group C with 9 points, whilst Braga sit 3rd with 3 points. They are 3 points behind 2nd place Napoli.
Union Berlin (Germany) 0 – 1 Napoli (Italy) – Olympiastadion, Tuesday 23rd October
Italian Champions Napoli travelled to the Olympiastadion in Berlin to play Urs Fischer’s Union Berlin on Tuesday. Following a tight and competitive contest, Napoli emerged as 1 – 0 winners thanks to a Giacomo Raspadori goal in the second half (65’).
Napoli now sits second, just behind Real Madrid in Group C. As for Union Berlin, they are winless and are bottom of the group table with no points from their three matches.
Benfica (Portugal) 0 – 1 Real Sociedad (Spain) – Estádio do SL Benfica, Tuesday 23rd October
Real Sociedad were looking to sit top of Group D with a win against Portuguese heavyweights Benfica, who were looking to get off the mark points-wise on Tuesday. It was a contest edged by Sociedad, who won 1 – 0, with midfielder Brais Méndez getting the game’s only goal for the away side (63’).
With 7 points and a superior goal difference to Inter Milan, Real Sociedad sit top of Group D whilst Benfica remain bottom of the group’s standings.
Now we move on to Wednesday’s action in the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages, starting with Manchester City’s trip to Switzerland to face BSC Young Boys.
BSC Young Boys (Switzerland) 1 – 3 Manchester City (England) – Stadion Wankdorf, Wednesday 25th October
It was not as straightforward as Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side would have liked when they played against Swiss Champions BSC Young Boys away from home. Manuel Akanji gave the reigning European Champions the lead (48’) before Meschak Elia found the equaliser for the home team (52’). The Cityzens went up another gear in the second half, with Erling Haaland scoring twice (67’ Penalty, 86’) to seal a 3 – 1 win for City.
Haaland now has 33 goals in 37 UEFA Champions League matches. City sit top of Group G with 9 points – meanwhile, Young Boys sit 3rd with 1 point after 3 matches.
Following this match, Manchester City’s final three Champions League Group Stage matches are as follows:
- BSC Young Boys (Home, Etihad Stadium) – Tuesday 7th November, 20:00 Kick-Off.
- RB Leipzig (Home, Etihad Stadium) – Tuesday 28th November, 20:00 Kick-Off.
- Red Star Belgrade (Away, Stadion Rajko Mitić) – Wednesday 13th December, 17:45 Kick-Off.
Newcastle United (England) 0 – 1 Borussia Dortmund (Germany) – St. James’ Park, Wednesday 25th October
After their historic 4 – 1 win against French Champions Paris Saint-Germain at St. James’ Park last time out, Eddie Howe’s Newcastle United were hoping for another win that would put them into the top two of Group F, and potentially top should results have gone their way. Unfortunately for the Magpies, they lost 1 – 0 against Dortmund thanks to a Felix Nmecha goal on the stroke of half time (45’).
Newcastle United now sit third with 4 points, with Dortmund in 2nd place on goal difference as they now have the same number of points as their English counterparts.
Feyenoord (Netherlands) 3 – 1 Lazio (Italy) – De Kuip, Wednesday 25th October
One-time European Cup winners and current Dutch Champions Feyenoord welcomed Italian heavyweights Lazio to De Kuip for the latest Group E match in the UEFA Champions League. The home side were too much for their visitors, winning 3 – 1 thanks to goals from Santiago Gimenez (31’, 74’) and Ramiz Zerrouki (45+2’). Former Chelsea forward Pedro got the only goal for the Serie A side (83’ – Penalty).
Feyenoord now sits at the top of Group E with 6 points, whilst Lazio is in 3rd place with 4 points to their name as of the time of writing.
FC Barcelona (Spain) 2 – 1 Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine) – Estadi Olímpic Lluís Companys, Wednesday 25th October
5 time European Champions FC Barcelona looked to continue their perfect record in this season’s UEFA Champions League with a win against Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk on Wednesday evening. They did just that, beating their Ukrainian counterparts 2 – 1, with Ferran Torres (28’) and Fermín López scoring (36’) for the Blaugrana. Heorhiy Sudakov scored the only goal for Shakhtar Donetsk (62’).
Xavi’s Barcelona top Group H with 9 points from 3 matches. As for Shakhtar Donetsk, they are now 3rd in the table with 3 points from as many matches. They are only 3 points behind Portugal’s FC Porto in 2nd.
Celtic (Scotland) 2 – 2 Atletico Madrid (Spain) – Celtic Park, Wednesday 25th October
Scottish Champions and one-time European Champions Celtic welcomed Spanish Giants Atletico Madrid to Paradise on Wednesday for the latest match in Group E. Kyogo Furuhashi (4’) and Luis Palma (28’) both scored at Celtic Park for the home side, whilst Antoine Griezmann (25’) and Alvaro Morata were on the scoresheet (53’) for their Spanish visitors.
Celtic remain bottom of Group E with 1 point following this draw, whilst Atletico sit in 2nd place with 5 points to their name.
Paris Saint-Germain (France) 3 – 0 AC Milan (Italy) – Parc des Princes, Wednesday 25th October
French Champions Paris Saint-Germain welcomed 7-time European Champions AC Milan to the Parc des Princes in Paris in Matchday Three of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages. Kylian Mbappé (32’), Randal Kolo Muani (53’) and Kang-In Lee (89’) all found the back of the net for the Parisians on Wednesday evening.
This result leaves PSG top of Group F with 6 points and two ahead of 2nd place Borussia Dortmund and 3rd place Newcastle United. Meanwhile, AC Milan sit bottom of the table with 2 points from their 3 UEFA Champions League matches this season.
RB Leipzig (Germany) 3 – 1 Red Star Belgrade (Serbia) – Red Bull Arena, Wednesday 25th October
Serbia’s Red Star Belgrade became European Champions in 1991, and they travelled to Germany to face RB Leipzig in their latest match in Group G of the 2023/24 Champions League. It was the hosts who won thanks to goals from David Raum (12’), Xavi Simons (59’) & Dani Olmo (84’). Stamenic was the scorer of Red Star Belgrade’s only goal of the game (70’).
Following this comfortable and deserved victory, RB Leipzig now sits 2nd with 6 points (3 points behind Group G leaders Manchester City). As for Red Star Belgrade, they are bottom of the group table with 1 point to their name after 3 matches having been played.
Royal Antwerp (Belgium) 1 – 4 FC Porto (Portugal) – Bosuilstadion, Wednesday 25th October
Belgian Champions Royal Antwerp came face to face with two-time European Champions FC Porto in Group H in Matchday Three of the 2023/24 Champions League Group Stages. It was an emphatic victory for the Portuguese visitors, who won 4 – 1 thanks to an Evanilson hat-trick (46’, 69’, 84’) and a goal from Canadian midfielder Stephen Eustáquio (37’). Antwerp’s only goal came from Alhassan Yussuf (37’).
FC Porto now find themselves as runners-up in Group H with 6 points and only 3 behind FC Barcelona at the top. Meanwhile, Royal Antwerp sits bottom with 0 points after playing 3 matches.
Manchester City and Arsenal are two English sides that are well on their way to the knockout stages with Manchester United on the right track now but with some work still to do. Either way, the final three matches of the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League Group Stages are set to be enthralling.
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