The group stage ends with the top two teams of each grouping advancing to the knockout stage with big teams being left behind.
By: Emmanuel Mendez
The last matchday of the group stage concluded with the best of the best advancing to the next round. Third place finished teams drop down to the Europa League, and the teams in last place are eliminated from this year’s European competitions.
In Group A, Manchester City and PSG advance to the next round after finishing 1st and 2nd. In the last matchday, Man City lost to RB Leipzig 2-1 out remained in first place while Leipzig finished third and went straight to the Europa League. PSG defeated Club Brugge 4-1 with Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi’s braces.
Group B, which was regarded as “the Group of Death,” was flawless for Liverpool as they finished first by winning all six games. Liverpool defeated AC Milan away from home 2-1. Milan finished last after they returned to the competition after eight years. Atletico Madrid defeated FC Porto 3-0 away from home to clinch second place and advance to the next round. FC Porto will be playing in the Europa League.
Another flawlessly team was Ajax in Group C. Ajax won all six of their games and took first place convincingly. Ajax defeated second-place Sporting 4-2 in the last matchday. Borussia Dortmund will play Europa League after finishing third and defeating last place Beşiktaş 5-0, who lost all six games.
Real Madrid and Inter Milan were the two teams to advance from Group D. Real Madrid won five games out of six and finished with 15 points. Inter finished with 10 points,, and the surprising Sheriff FC finished third above Shakhtar Donetsk. Sheriff and Shakhtar drew their game 1-1 while Real Madrid beat Inter 2-0 at home.
The third and final team to go perfect in the group stage was the impressive Bayern Munich. Bayern dominated Group E and won all six games. To a shock by many people, Benfica finished in second and left FC Barcelona in third place. Barcelona lost to Bayern 3-0 away from home while Benfica defeated Dynamo Kyiv 2-0. Benfica advance to the next round along with Bayern, while Barca will be playing the Europa League for the first time since 2003-2004.
Group F was closer than expected, but Manchester United ended in first place and the champs of the Europa League last season finished in second after defeating Atalanta 3-0 away from home. United drew against Young Boys 1-1 in the previous matchday.
Another close group was Group G. The French champions, Lille finished first after beating Wolfsburg 3-0. RB Salzburg defeated Sevilla 1-0 and became the first Austrian team to advance to the knockout stage of the Champions League. Sevilla will be playing in Europa League.
Group H is where the current champions Chelsea were involved. Juventus finished first after winning five out of six games, and Chelsea finished second. Juventus beat Malmo 1-0 in the last matchday while Chelsea and Zenit drew 3-3 in Russia. Zenit finished in third place and will be playing Europa League.
A draw for the round of 16 took place on Monday, December 13th, 2021, and here are the fixtures. The Champions League first-leg games are on February 15th, 16th, 22nd, and 23rd, 2022.
Feb. 15th: PSG vs. Real Madrid & Sporting CP vs. Manchester City
Feb. 16th: RB Salzburg vs. Bayern Munich & Inter Milan vs. Liverpool FC
Feb. 22nd: Chelsea FC vs. LOSC Lille & Villarreal vs. Juventus FC
Feb. 23rd: Atletico Madrid vs. Manchester United & Benfica vs. Ajax