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With the international break in progress and just some time before club football returns, most importantly the UCL, it’s important to look at what has happened so far in this season’s UCL. Here’s a breakdown of each group and their current standings and performances halfway through the group stage.

Group A – Bayern, Atletico, Lokomotiv, RB Salzburg

At the start of the draw, Bayern were favorites to top the group, with Atletico coming second and possibly threatening Bayern. Halfway through, Bayern are still favorites to top the group as they have dominated their opponents, and Atletico is staying alive after a dismal start. Bayern started with a 4-0 victory against Atletico, while Salzburg and Lokomotiv played to a draw on Matchday 1. Since then, Bayern has been undefeated, and Atletico holds a 1-1-1 record in second place.

Following them is Lokomotiv with two points and Salzburg with one point. The rest of the matchdays will surely entertain as Joao Felix will hope to lead Atletico into the knockout stages. Lokomotiv and Salzburg will battle for a Europa League spot, and might even upset Atletico to get to second place. Bayern will hope to continue their undefeated run (a current record), and possibly win back-to-back, similar to their triumphs in 1974 and 1975.

Group B – Mönchengladbach, Shakhtar, Real Madrid, Inter

This group has definitely been the surprise of the year. Powerhouses Real Madrid and Inter are looking very poor in their European games as they currently sit 3rd and 4th, respectively. Real Madrid suffered a shock defeat to Shakhtar on opening day while Inter tied to both Mönchengladbach and Shaktar, but suffered a late defeat to Real. Mönchengladbach has looked a very strong team, with Alassane Pléa and Marcus Thuram leading the attack. Mönchengladbach looked especially strong in their 6-0 win over Shakhtar, giving them a one-point lead over Shakhtar and Madrid.

Both Madrid and Inter will have to bounce back if they hope to stay in the UCL, and especially for Madrid who holds 13 UCL trophies, by far the most. As for Mönchengladbach and Shaktar, they have crucial games coming up and they will be must wins against two of Europe’s powerhouses. This group will most certainly go down to the last matchday, as the teams will vie for the top two spots and the 3rd place Europa League spot.

Group C – Man. City, Porto, Olympiacos, Marseille

Once again, Manchester City has been blessed with an easy group, and with all the oil money they have, that should be no surprise. City has won all three of their games and are likely to run away with the group. Porto is looking strong having won 2-0 against Olympiacos and 3-0 against Marseille. Olympiacos have recorded a win against Marseille and sit at 3rd, hopefully seeking to make it to the Europa League.

Marseille are arguably the worst team in the UCL, not having won a single and not having scored either. They have just three games to hopefully get back on track, and it’s rather disappointing to see a team that once had some of the best players and won the UCL in 1993 to be at such a low-point. City and Porto are the teams likely to advance, and Olympiacos will seal the Europa League spot.

Group D – Liverpool, Ajax, Atalanta, Midtjylland

Group D will certainly be one to watch for. Last year’s quarter-finalists Atalanta have yet to find their stride, while Liverpool has won all three games off the back of an extremely impressive Diogo Jota. But with Ajax and Atalanta having balanced teams and Liverpool facing major defensive injuries, the group is wide open.

Midtjylland are on par with Marseille, as they are also yet to win a game although they have scored one goal in contrast to Marseille. With just three games left for each team, the top two spots will be difficult to clinch and it will most likely come down to the last matchday.

Jurgen Klopp will have to find a way past their current situation if they hope to recover from last year’s embarrassing defeat against Atletico. As for Ajax and Atalanta, they will hope to find a consistent form in the second half of the group stage if they hope to contend.

Group E – Chelsea, Sevilla, Krasnodar, Rennes

When the draw took place, this group could be split into two: the good and the bad. Chelsea and Sevilla are clearly the stronger sides and will have no issue reaching the knockout stages. Chelsea’s summer signings (and Mendy) have been performing at the highest stage, as they are at the top of the group. Last year’s Europa League winners Sevilla are tied on points and just behind on GD, showing their capability to adapt and play in Europe’s biggest club competition. Krasnodar and Rennes have gotten a draw apiece, meaning they will not go pointless but will compete strongly to secure the 3rd place spot. This group may not be the most exciting, but Chelsea is certainly a strong contender for the title, and Sevilla can certainly be dark horses to watch out for.

Group F – Dortmund, Lazio, Club Brugge, Zenit

This group has certainly been interesting to watch so far with Haaland and Dortmund taking the lead, and with newcomers Lazio in second place. Club Brugge have also been able to take a point from Lazio, proving they can get one of the knockout stage spots. Zenit has had a draw against Lazio, but will most likely be eliminated from the competition and are highly unlikely to reach the Europa League.

Dortmund on the hand has won two of their three games, with a defeat coming against Lazio. Haaland has been on the scoresheet for them every game, with five goals in three games. Lazio has not been super impressive besides their win against Dortmund, as they have only had two 1-1 draws against Brugge and Zenit. This group is still open as the top three can easily be shaken up, but the current standings are likely to stand.

Group G – Barcelona, Juventus, Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencváros

This was the group everyone was excited for since the draw. Not due to it being a difficult group or the teams in the group, but because of two players: Ronaldo and Messi. This group has already featured one game of Barcelona v. Juventus, but with Ronaldo out due to COVID-19, the world has to wait till the second game on December 8.

Besides the player rivalry though, Barcelona has looked really strong. Dembele back from injury and a resilient Messi has led the way. Even though they lost star-striker Suarez, Barcelona has finally looked towards their youth, with Fati, Pedri, and Trincão leading the way. Juventus have found a star in Morato who seems to have found his form, while Ronaldo will look to get back on the scoresheets once again in the UCL. Kyiv and Ferencváros are struggling against two of Europe’s biggest teams and will look to secure a Europa League spot. Juventus and Barcelona should very easily advance and as for who tops the group, December 8 will most likely be the decider.

Group H – Man. United, RB Leipzig, PSG, İstanbul Başakşehir

This group has provided lots of entertainment already, as Man U continue to embarrass themselves while PSG is having a hard time without superstars Neymar and Mbappe. Leipzig is currently second and hope to repeat their last year’s performance, and İstanbul won their first-ever UCL game in its history at Man. U’s expense.

United had a promising start with a 2-1 late victory over PSG, and a 5-0 thrashing of Leipzig on the front of a Marcus Rashford hat-trick. But things went really wrong after that, as they lost against İstanbul, a stunning defeat. PSG and Leipzig are trying to get a handle of things as they both will compete to get a knockout stage position. Manchester United are certainly looking uncertain, but their attack should be enough to see them advance. İstanbul is currently dead last, but things will change if they can put up another stunning performance. It seems however that the group will most likely be won by Man U and PSG, as Leipzig does not have the same talent and firepower compared to the other two.

Photo credit: Gabriel Bouys/AFP