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Is coming second in the group stages better in the Champions League?

By Tony Attwood

We now more or less know who is going into the knock out rounds – and for the first time in a while, there is a case to be made for coming second, as I will try to show.

GROUP A

Porto and Paris Saint-Germain have both qualified but either could come top.  Personally I’d prefer to take on Porto.  PSG could do anything and they have not run away with the French league as most people including me predicted – but technically they have an incredibly strong squad.

GROUP B

Schalke and Arsenal qualified.  Either could be top in the end.  If both clubs win or draw or lose, then Schalke are top.  If Schalke draw and we win, then we win the group.

GROUP C

Malaga and AC Milan have qualified and Malaga (who in the summer looked in total disarray) only need a point to win the group.

GROUP D
Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid have both qualified.  Dortmund look almost certain the win the group.

GROUP E
Shakhtar Donetsk and most likely Juventus will go through.  But although Chelsea are being discounted if Shakhtar beat Juve and Chelsea beat Nordsjaelland Chelsea would go through.   We can’t play Chelsea in this next round.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich and Valencia have both qualified and either could win it.

GROUP G

Barcelona have won the group, which is a good reason for not coming second in our group.  Second place will be Benfica or Celtic with Celtic at home to Spartak Moscow who are bottom.

GROUP H

Manchester United have won the group and Galatasaray are most likely to be second, although Cluj could get the place especially if Man U put out a junior side in their last match against Cluj.

So what does all that tell us?

OK, there are too many variables to be definitive about this but here’s a guess for the winners of the groups.

GROUP A: Porto*

GROUP B: Schalke

GROUP C: Malaga*

GROUP D: Borussia Dortmund*

GROUP E: Shakhtar Donetsk*

GROUP F: Bayern Munich*

GROUP G: Barcelona*

GROUP H: Manchester United

So coming second in group B which is where I have put Arsenal in this approach, would mean would could be drawn against any clubs marked *.

But what if we won the group?  Again taking a load of guesses here’s the options of who we could play:

GROUP A:  Paris Saint-Germain

GROUP C:AC Milan

GROUP D: Real Madrid

GROUP E:  Juventus

GROUP F:  Valencia

GROUP G:  Celtic

GROUP H:  Galatasaray

Of all these clubs my options are

  • Porto – no thanks – the refs always seem to do something funny in Portugal
  • Malaga – at the start of the season I would have said “yes please” but they have really shown that they are together, despite the summer muddle.
  • Borussia Dortmund
  • Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Bayern Munich – always strong, always fancied
  • Barcelona – no thanks, not again.
  • Paris Saint-Germain – who knows what PSG would turn up?  I expected them to walk through the French league but they are third, two points behind Lyon, and Lyon have a game in hand (and we all know who Lyon’s manager is).
  • AC Milan – we couldn’t play as badly as last season’s first match again.  Could we?  But we could play as well as we did in the first half of the second leg.  Couldn’t we?
  • Real Madrid – not having their best of times but still…
  • Juventus – wouldn’t mind them
  • Valencia – 8th in the league in Spain, 16 points behind the leaders
  • Celtic – my neighbours will probably never talk to me again for saying this, but they do look beatable, despite their victory over Barcelona.
  • Galatasaray – just a horrible place, but we have enough experience.

So, no there isn’t much benefit in coming first because the other groups are so muddled.  Coming first just means we can’t play Barcelona but we might get Celtic.

 

 

13 comments to Is coming second in the group stages better in the Champions League?

  • Dan T

    You have missed one vital point. Arsenal and Barca are cosmically bound to meet in the Cahmpions League at the earliest opportunity.
    That point asside, then second wouldn’t be too bad.

  • walter

    Thanks for this Tony. I had been thinking of doing the same but now I can just enjoy the ride. 😉

    Too many unknown groups now and we cannot speculate on the day as we play on Tuesday and so we do not know the other results.

    But well we have to beat whatever comes our way to win it so… would take anyone that comes our way.

    Meanwhile Man City or Chelsea (if they don’t qualify) could be drawn against the mighty Racing Genk. 🙂

  • Fabian

    “Dortmund look almost certain the win the group.”

    At the time of this article, Dortmund already has won the group. If Dortmund loses their next match and Real wins against Ajax, Dortmund will still be winner of the group because of the better head-to-head record.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    My guess that it would be either Malaga or Bath-alone.

  • Ong Bing

    I think no easy game at last 16 this year. But if you win the group, you will have 1st leg away, most of managers like this.

    But we had bad experience last season…

  • americangooner

    1st or 2nd we are better than last year on all fronts. with the new boys scoring goals and assisting each other. I wonder how many goals/assists the new boys have between them. which also means we dont have rely on one player for goals.

  • Wooby

    Prefer to finish 1st and avoid the German teams. Bayern is always tough, especially at home and Dortmund figures to be better given this is their second year in the competition. Of course, this does open a possibility of playing against RM but I think the cosmos appear to be pointing to a SAF vs Mourinho encounter.

    Outside of Bayern and Dortmund, I would like to avoid Porto. Tony, I agree with you, strange ref decisions inevitably occur when we play in Portugal.

  • Matt Clarke

    I think that Barca would be scared of us this time around – bring it on!

  • Stuart

    I’d like to see us up against Barca to be honest. It’s written that we will meet them anyway and I think if we beat them it will really set up the teams confidence to go on and win it

  • GoingGoingGooner

    Who would remember if we played a no name team? I’m all for playing the best on offer and letting the chips fall where they may.

  • Adam

    As an Arsenal fan with hope in my heart, I don’t care who we get as long as we win the competition, however if we do get beat I hope it is to the eventual winners Borussia Dortmund who look a good side.

  • ARSENAL 13

    I dont care who are drawn against us. I believe we will be strong enough to see off any team.

  • nicky

    In my view, no team is easy meat at this stage of the CL.
    Any team in real contention must be prepared to meet and defeat ANY rival at ANY stage in the competition.