Champions League Analysis (Halfway through Group Play)

Week 3 has concluded and every team has now played everyone else in their group. For the most part, the groups appear to have played out as I predicted in July: The big surprises have been Kadetten Schaffhausen and Constanta.

Essentially the 8 groups can be divided into 2 categories

[b]Category 1: The top seed is all but decided; 2 teams are in a dog fight for 2nd place[/b]

5 Groups fall into this Category (Groups B, C, D, E, and G). Here’s some short analysis on each of these Groups

Group B: No need to write with a pencil here- Ciudad Real will win this group and probably with a 6-0 record. The big surprise here though is that Switzerland’s Kadetten Schaffhausen’s is in the driver’s seat to take 2nd place after securing an away draw at Hungary’s Pick Szeged. For Pick to advance they will likely need to Kadetten Schaffhausen in Switzerland.

Group C: Kolding is on track to win the Group and Chambery appears to have turned things around in time to avoid an early exit to their Champions League season. As they have been hot and cold, though, I wouldn’t be surprised for Wisla Plock to beat Chambery when they host them in November. As the Group play tiebrakers are head to head competition and then head to head goal differential 2nd place will likely come down to the Plock-Chambery aggregate, meaning that Plock will need to win by 9. Advantage- Chambery, but not out of the question for Plock

Group D: Flensburg will have two tough matches on the road (Zagreb and Chehovskie Medvedi), but they won’t lose both matches and they should keep a head to head goal differential lead against either team. 2nd place will likely come down to the Medvedi-Zagreb match next week. Zagreb currently has a 7 goal aggregate lead and will seek to maintain it.

Group E: Kiel was this group wrapped up and should finish with a 6-0 record. 4th seeded Constanta surprised 2nd seeded GOG Svendborg, beating them by 5 goals at home and is currently in 2nd place. They will try and keep this aggregate lead when they travel to Denmark this weekend.

Group G: Barcelona is in control. They may have a challenging match on the road at Sweden’s Hammarby, but they will still finish 1st. 2nd place, however, is totally up for grabs as 3 teams are tied at 2 points. Athens surprised Slovenia’s Gold Club Kozina, but I really don’t see Athens having a chance to advance. Still this upset victory over Kozina, helps Hammarby’s cause. Having lost to Kozina at home, Hammarby would normally have to win the return match in Slovenia and beat the 4 goal aggregate. Kozina’s loss to Athens means that Hammarby could only need a draw when they play at Kozina.

[b]Category 2: The Top 2 Seeds Have Been Determined, but Who Will Get the Top Seed[/b]

Groups A, F, and H fall into this category. In the round of 16, being a number 1 seed has two main benefits. The first benefit is getting a match up against a number 2 seed. This doesn’t guarantee an easy pairing in the round of 16, but your odds are certainly better. The second benefit is hosting the return leg of the 2 game contest as it’s always nice to know how much you need to win by in front of your home crowd.

Group A: Portland San Antonio has a 7 goal advantage, but Veszprem hosts the return leg. This is probably enough of an advantage for Portland San Antonio, though.

Group F: Gummersbach won the first leg by 3, but the 2nd match against Celje is in Slovenia. This is a toss-up as far as I’m concerned

Group H: Valladolid beat Montpellier by 9 this past weekend, so you might think that this is a safe lead. Having seen Montpellier rout top teams in Europe at Stade Rene Bougnol, however, I know better. Advantage Valladolid, but anything can happen.

Likely # 1 Seeds
Ciudad Real

#1 or #2 Seeds
Portland San Antonio or Veszprem
Gummersbach or Celje
Valladolid or Montpellier

#2 Seeds
Kadetten Schaffhause or Pick Szeged
Chambery or Wisla Plock
Zagreb or Chehovskie Medvedi
Constanta or GOG Svendborg
Hammarby or Gold Club Kozina