The UEFA Champions League returns with a host of interesting fixtures. There are a number of teams that have secured qualification to the knockout rounds of the competition. For teams like Manchester United, Sevilla, Chelsea, Arsenal, Bordeaux, and FC Porto the upcoming matches are more like formalities. For some of these aforementioned teams a win tomorrow would be the difference between taking first or second in their respective groups. The outcome of the fixtures this week means continuing on, the Europa League, or falling out of European competition completely.
Some of the teams that are sitting on this knife edge are ones that in no way shape or form should be in the position to crash out of Europe. Firstly, let’s look at one team that has not been in form any point this season, yes I am of course speaking about Liverpool. A poor run of form has seen Liverpool take four points from four games. For a team that has won top European honors on five separate occasions they have been a disgrace thus far. Right now the only thing they have going for them is that tomorrow they have the chance to right the ship when they take on lowly Debrecini. If Liverpool stumble at all then its goodbye Champions League and hello Europa League, and not to mention the fact that if Fiorentina are able to come away with a point after matchday 5, Liverpool’s season may be a complete wash. If Liverpool does manage to get through by the skin of their teeth, and they don’t deserve to go on to the knockout stages, then it would be a miracle.
The other big name team in a somewhat similar situation as Liverpool is last season’s winner Barcelona. Does Barcelona deserve to be knocked out of the Champions League like Liverpool? I don’t believe they deserve the same fate as Liverpool. There are a number of reasons Barcelona should and most likely will survive the group stage. Firstly, group F is the closest group in the entire competition and anything could happen. By anything could happen I mean Barcelona will beat Inter Milan, and Rubin Kazan won’t be able to take points off high flying Dynamo Kyiv. Unlike Liverpool, Barcelona is in second place in La Liga and has one of the toughest groups of the Champions League. Granted, they haven’t been the same team as last season, but I feel the best is yet to come from Barcelona. The only question is will they be good enough when they are playing higher caliber teams than Rubin Kazan?