Matchday four is upon us in the UEFA Champions League and some teams can book their place in the round of sixteen. We take a closer look at the sides who reach the knockouts over the next two days.
The Bundesliga giants have been nothing short of imperious in the early stages of the Champions League. Played three, won three, scored twelve and no goals conceded. With those stats alone, FC Bayern seems to be already striking out as early contenders to lift a sixth Champions League title.
Bayern just has to repeat a victory against Benfica at the Allianz to secure their place in the round of sixteen, and considering they thumped their opponents 4-0 last time out, duly expect Julian Nargelsmann’s side to rubber-stamp their place in the knockout phase.
Juventus can book their spot in the round of sixteen with a victory at home to Zenit St Petersburg. The bianconeri are three from three in the Champions League this season, including an eye-catching 1-0 win against European Champions Chelsea in matchday 2. However impressive European form maligns a disappointing start to the Serie A season, with Max Allegri’s team currently sitting in ninth place.
Still, Juventus have the squad depth to have a creditable crack at the Champions League this season and with Federico Chiesa have one of the brightest attacking prospects in European football. Juve will be looking to wrap up qualification as soon as possible and turn their attentions to revive a flagging domestic campaign.
The Austrian Bundesliga champions have yet to taste defeat this season in the Champions League and can reach the round of sixteen for the first time in their history with a victory away at Wolfsburg. Salzburg has been blazing a trail under 31-year coach Matthias Jaissle who have already opened up a 12 point gap at the top of the table just 13 games into the season.
The former Hoffenheim player had previously coached the U18 Salzburg squad, and with the youngest side in the competition, he has managed to register some impressive results including a big 2-1 win against reigning Ligue 1 champions Lille. Opponents Wolfsburg have not won a Champions League in their last four outings and Salzburg will be looking to put qualification to bed nice and early.
Liverpool can reach the round of sixteen on Wednesday providing they can get the better of Atletico Madrid at Anfield. The Reds have yet to drop points in the Champions League, a feat even more impressive considering they are in a group with the likes of former European Champions AC Milan, Porto and the reigning La Liga Champions Atletico Madrid.
Last time out, Liverpool came away with a famous 3-2 victory against Atletico Madrid. After racing into a two-goal lead, Atleti clawed their way back into the contest before a late Mohamed Salah claimed the contest for the six-time European champions. The contest is expected to be a feisty one, especially with Luis Suarez returning to his former club. Liverpool are undefeated in their last 14 games in all competitions at Anfield and will fancy themselves to get the job done against Atleti.
Ajax can also book their place in the knock out phrases providing they can better Sporting’s result against Beşiktaş in Group C. The Dutch side is perfect so far in the tournament, scoring eleven and conceding just one goal. Last time out Ajax thumped Borussia Dortmund 4-0 at home, although you expect the turnaround at the Westfalenstadion could be a little different.
In Sébastien Haller, Ajax has the leading scorer in the tournament with six goals and don’t be surprised if the Ivory Coast international continues his rich vein of goalscoring form.