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Champions League Group Stage Ultimate XI

Group Stage Ultimate XI

The Champions League group stages are done and dusted with Chelsea becoming the first holders in the history to be knocked out in the group stages, Manchester City completely out of Europe, Real Madrid finishing second and Lionel Messi in fine form.

Here, IntoTheTopCorner picks its Group Stage Ultimate XI, containing the very best performers over the six matchdays in a 4-5-1 formation. There’s an alternative to each selection, so have a look at the team below…

GK – FRASER FORSTER (CELTIC)

Forster

Celtic are through to the knockout stages for the first time since the 2007/08 season and they had some individual performances to thank for. The former Newcastle United shot-stopper is one of them, as he had two brilliant games against Barcelona that actually secured their qualification. A last-gasp defeat at the Camp Nou and a historical win at Celtic Park did their confidence a world of good, and their final matchday win over Spartak Moscow was more than deserved.

Alternative – Joe Hart (Manchester City)

RB – PHILIPP LAHM (BAYERN MUNICH)

Lahm

Bayern’s skipper and Mr. Consistent, Philipp Lahm, has proved dependable yet again as the Bundesliga leaders secured the top spot in Group F ahead of Valencia. Though, the German international captain did his best work on the left flank he comes in our side as a right-back. He managed three assists and won one penalty in the five matches he played and looked very solid at the back.

Alternative – Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)

CB – THIAGO SILVA (PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN)

Thiago Silva

The Brazilian is known as one of the best defenders in the world of football at the moment and he didn’t let anyone down. The former AC Milan centre-back was very consistent throughout the group stages as he helped the French side to first place in Group A in their long-awaited return to Europe’s elite. He scored two goals including the opener in PSG’s important win over Porto on Matchday six.

Alternative – Martin Demichelis (Malaga)

CB – MATS HUMMELS (BORUSSIA DORTMUND)

Hummels

Dortmund – surprisingly – topped the Group of Death and they had their solid defence to thank for it. Hummels, the integral part of the reigning Bundesliga champions’ back four, was at his very best as Die Schwarzgelben remained unbeaten in all of their six group games and also managed to keep three clean sheets in the process.  All the defence played their part, but the German international was perhaps the standout performer in Jurgen Klopp’s back four.

Alternative – Nicolas Otamendi (Porto)

LB – GIORGIO CHIELLINI (JUVENTUS)

Chiellini

Juventus secured their passage through to the knockout stages as Group E winners thanks to an unbeaten run of six games. Their last three were impressive wins and also clean sheets, while the Old Lady came out victorious in Donetsk – a feat achieved by very few teams in the past 12 months or so. The Italian international was perhaps the most impressive player in Antonio Conte’s back three.

Alternative – Christian Fuchs (Schalke)

CDM – ARTURO VIDAL (JUVENTUS)

Vidal

The Chilean international has to be one of the players of the group stages. The former Leverkusen man is a typical box-to-box midfielder combining defensive steel with goal-scoring prowess at the highest level. His partnership with Claudio Marschisio is the engine of Conte’s team. In the group stages, he averaged 4.8 tackles per game and scored three goals with one assist—an absolutely remarkable feat for a defensive midfield.

Alternative – Victor Wanyama (Celtic)

CM – WILLIAN (SHAKHTAR DONETSK)

Willian

The Brazilian alongside the Chilean gives our side some South American feel in the midfield. Willian, who has attracted a lot of interest from the Premier League clubs like Chelsea and Tottenham in the past, was one of the top performers for Shakhtar scoring four goals and creating two as they made it through to the last-16 and dumped the holders out of the competition in the process.

Alternative – Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk)

CM – ISCO (MALAGA)

Isco

The 20-year-old Spaniard scored twice and assisted two in six games to announce himself on the European stage and walk straight into our line-up. While he has failed to to translate this form into his La Liga games, Isco has been in super form in the Champions League. It’s his form in the in Europe’s elite competition that has clubs scrambling to meet his €18.5 million buyout clause before Malaga extend his contract, and it’s clear this kid has something slightly special.

Alternative – Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich)

RW – CRISTIANO RONALDO (REAL MADRID)

Ronaldo

Love him or hate him, but the Portuguese is surely one of the best players in the world and he proved it with his performances for the Spanish champions in the group stages. The former Manchester United star managed to scored six goals in the group of death and will be hoping to score many more in the later stages as he hopes to guide the Los Blancos to their first ever Champions League title in over a decade.

Alternative – Juan Mata (Chelsea)

LW – LIONEL MESSI (BARCELONA)

Messi

A Champions League team without the best player in the world? Not possible at all. The Barca striker is at his very peak and was again at his very best in the group stages scoring five goals and creating two as he helped the Catalans top their group. The Argentine has had the best year having scored 90 goals and will be hoping more of the same in 2013 as he looks to guide his team to yet another European success.

Alternative – Burak Yilmaz (Galatasaray)

ST – ZLATAN IBRAHIMOVIC (PARIS SAINT-GERMIAN)

Ibrahimovic

Out strike force is a nightmare to any team and Ibrahimovic leads it. The Swede has played for the many elite club during his career but his contributions for the French capital side in this season’s campaign can’t be ignored. He has managed to score just two goals in the six games but it’s the five assists that are the most impressive. Ezequiel Lavezzi, Javier Pastore and Jeremy Menez must really enjoy playing alongside the Swede as he continues to impress.

Alternative – Jackson Martinez (Porto)

Group Stage Ultimate XI

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Champions League Permutations

ucl-permutations

Just one round of fixtures remain in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League, with 13 teams having already qualified for the last-16. 

All the four Spanish teams are through to the knockout stages along with Arsenal & Manchester United, and with just three places up for grabs holders Chelsea are one of the six teams in contention on 4 and 5 December.

Qualified for the last 16: FC Porto, Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke 04, Arsenal, Malaga (GW), AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund (GW), Real Madrid, Shakhtar Dontesk, Bayern Munich, Valencia, Barcelona (GW), Manchester United (GW).

GW – Group Winners 

Can still qualify: Juventus or Chelsea; Benfica or Celtic; Galatasaray or CFR Cluj (in each case losing team will play in the UEFA Europa League).

Confirmed in the UEFA Europa League: Dynamo Kiev, Olympiakos, BATE Borisov.

Can qualify for UEFA Europa League: Zenit St Petersburg or Anderlecht; Ajax or Manchester City (in each case the losing team will be knocked out of Europe)

Knocked out of Europe: Dinamo Zagreb, Montpellier, Nordsjælland, Spartak Moscow, LOSC Lille, Braga.

Here lets have a look the the permutations for all the eight groups..

4TH DECEMBER

GROUP A

Paris Saint-Germain (12pts) v FC Porto (13), Dinamo Zagreb (0) v Dynamo Kiev (4)

Porto have qualified with the most number of points after five games and will clinch the first place in the group win a win or a draw in Paris.

PSG are also through but must beat Porto to finish top.

Dynamo Kiev will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League

Dinamo Zagreb are out of Europe.

GROUP B

Olympiakos (6pts) v Arsenal (10), Montpellier (1) v Schalke 04 (11)

Schalke  are through and will win the group if they get all three points in France or Arsenal are denied a win in Greece due to their head-to-head superiority.

Arsenal have qualified for the knockout stages for the 13th year running but to top the group, they must win at Olympiakos and hope Montpellier don’t lose to Schalke.

Olympiakos will transfer to the knockout stages of the Europa League.

Montpellier are out of Europe.

GROUP C

Malaga (11pts) v Anderlecht (4), AC Milan (8) v Zenit St Petersburg (4)

Malaga in their debut season in the Champions League have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over Milan.

Milan are through as runners-up of the group.

Zenit lie third on goal difference as they are level on head-to-head with Anderlecht, with whom they fighting for a place in the last-32 of the Europa League. If the two matches in the group end in a draw, the Russian wll qualify for the Europa League due to the superior goal difference.

Anderlecht will qualify for the Europa League knockout stages if they pick up more points than Zenit or overturn their goal difference.

GROUP D

Borussia Dortmund (11pts) v Manchester City (3), Real Madrid (8) v Ajax (4)

Dortmund have qualified as group winners due to their head-to-head superiority over the reigning Spanish champions.

Real Madrid are through as runners-up, the 16th year in a row they have made it through their group.

Ajax will qualify for the Europa League if they win in Madrid or if Manchester City fail to win at Dortmund due to the Dutch champions’ head-to-head superiority.

Manchester City will qualify for the last-32 of the the Europa League if they win in Germany and Ajax fail to win in Spain.

5TH DECEMBER

GROUP E

Shakhtar Donetsk (10pts) v Juventus (9), Chelsea (7) v Nordsjælland (1)

Shakhtar are through and will clinch first place with a win or draw in their final game.

Juventus will finish first with a win against Shakhtar, and will be through with a draw even if Chelsea win against Nordsjælland.

Chelsea need to win their final game and hope the Italian champions lose as their head-to-head record is inferior to both teams above them.

Nordsjælland are out of Europe.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich (10pts) v BATE Borisov (6), LOSC Lille (3) v Valencia (10)

Bayern are through to the last-16 and top on head-to-head record ahead of Valencia. The Germans will win the group if they beat BATE or secure as many points as Valencia.

Valencia are through but must pick up more points than Bayern to finish first in the group.

BATE will finish third and enter the Europa League as their head-to-head record is superior to Lille’s.

Lille are out of Europe.

GROUP G

Barcelona (12pts) v Benfica (7), Celtic (7) v Spartak Moscow (3)

Barcelona are through as group winners

Benfica will be through with a win in Spain, or as long as they pick up the same number of points as Celtic, as they have the head-to-head superiority over the Scottish champions.

Celtic must pick up more points than Benfica to overtake them and make in through to the last-16.

Spartak are out of Europe.

GROUP H

Manchester United (12pts) v CFR Cluj (7), SC (3) v Galatasaray (7)

Manchester United are through as group winners.

Galatasaray are second ahead of Cluj on head-to-head record. They will qualify with a win in Portugal or as long as they pick up as many points as the Romanians.

Cluj must secure more points than Galatasaray to qualify for the Round of 16.

Braga are out of Europe.

A Complete Guide To The UEFA Champions League Group Stage Draw

The draw for the UEFA Champions League 2012/13 group stage takes place today in Monaco, with 32 teams set to discover their fate in the world’s elite club competition.

Last season’s winners Chelsea will be hoping to become the first team to defend their European crown this season in London, since AC Milan in 1989 and 1990, back in the old format of the European Cup. Standing in their way are the usual pre-tournament favourites Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich, while big-spending Paris Saint-Germain and the reigning Premier League champions Manchester City are being tipped by many as serious contenders.

The draw will start at 16:45 BST and you can follow it LIVE on Sky Sports and BBC. In the meantime, here is a complete guide which will help you know everything you need to know.

WHERE WILL THE DRAW TAKE PLACE?

The UEFA Champions League group stage draw will take place at the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco. It will also host the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award ceremony, along with the UEFA Europa League group stage draw which will take place tomorrow.

Champions League winners Chelsea and Europa League winners Atletico Madrid are already in town for their UEFA Super Cup match tomorrow night at the Stade Louis II, and both will give a pre-match press conferences today at the venue before the draw.

The draw will begin at 17:45 local time, which translates to 11:45 Eastern time and 21:15 Indian time.

UEFA president Michel Platini is sure to be present along with General Secretary Gianni Infantino (who will do the draw), the usual array of esteemed former players, an ambassador for the 2013 Wembley final and the representatives from all the 32 clubs in the draw.

WHAT ARE THE SEEDINGS?

The lineup and seedings are complete for today’s UEFA Champions League group stage draw. The 32 qualifiers have been divided into four pots based on the UEFA coefficients, which are in turn determined by a mixture of the team’s own performance in Europe over the past five seasons, as well as the strength of their country’s league. Here are the seeding for all the 32 teams:

POT 1
Chelsea, Barcelona, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Arsenal, Porto, AC Milan

POT 2
Valencia, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, Schalke, Manchester City, Braga, Dynamo Kiev

POT 3
Olympiacos, Anderlecht, Ajax, Juventus, Spartak Moscow, Paris Saint-Germain, Galatasaray, Lille

POT 4
Celtic, Borussia Dortmund, BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb, CFR Cluj, Montpellier, Malaga, Nordsjaelland

HOW DOES THE DRAW WORK?

The Champions League group stage comprises eight groups of four teams. A team from each pot is drawn and placed into one of the eight groups available. This is done by pot and not “one at a time”. That is to say, all the teams from pot one will be placed into a group, and then pot two, and so on down to the fourth and final pot.

There are some restrictions, though. Teams from the same country cannot be drawn together, and even prior to that there will be two ‘sets’ of groups decided for the purpose of television rights. For example, the four teams from England cannot all be drawn in the same set.

Potential Group of Death – The champions of Spain, England, Italy and Germany could all be drawn in the same group. That means, Real Madrid, Manchester City, Juventus and Borussia Dortmund could all end up in the same group.

WHAT IS THE FORMAT AND THE SCHEDULE?

The four teams in each group will face each other home and away. This means there will be a total of six “matchdays” in each group spread across a Tuesday and Wednesday. The top two teams from each group advance to the first knockout round (Round of 16). The third-place finishers in each group enter the UEFA Europa League round of 32.

From the last 16 untill the semi-finals, clubs play two matches against each other on a home-and-away basis with the club scoring the greater aggregate of goals qualifing for the next round. Away goals and then penalties will be used to determine the winner if there is a draw. In the last 16, group winners play runners-up other than teams from their own group or country, while from the quarter-finals on the draw is free.

The final is decided by a single match, which this season will be played at the Wembley Stadium on Saturday, 25th May 2013.

Group Stage, Matchday 1 – 18/19 Sep
Group Stage, Matchday 2 – 02/03 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 3 – 23/24 Oct
Group Stage, Matchday 4 – 06/07 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 5 – 20/21 Nov
Group Stage, Matchday 6 – 04/05 Dec

Round of 16, 1st Leg – 12/13 Feb & 19/20 Feb
Round of 16, 2nd Leg – 05/06 Mar & 12/13 Mar
Quarter-Finals, 1st Leg – 02/03 Apr
Quarter-Finals, 2nd Leg – 09/10 Apr
Semi-Finals, 1st Leg – 23/24 Apr
Semi-Finals, 2nd Leg – 01/02 May

Final (Wembley Stadium) – 25 May

WHO ARE THE FAVOURITES?

Barcelone finished trophyless last season as they lost their League title to Real Madrid and were knocked out in the semi-finals of the Champions League by eventual winners Chelsea. But as always, they are the favourites with most bookmakers to win the Champions League this season under new boss Tito Vilanova.

Real Madrid are a close second, with Jose Mourinho hoping to win his first Champions League title with the Whites, while Manchester United and Manchester City are next in the line. Holders Chelsea are placed at 14/1 odds to defend their crown along with runners-up Bayern Munich.

Moneybags Paris Saint-Germain and Italian champions Juventus are priced as high as 18/1 by the bookies, while Arsenal, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are in the next group back.