The situation looks treacherous for Inter Milan, but Bayern and Barcelona can seemingly do no wrong. See what might transpire as Matchday 4 concludes.
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Wednesday fixtures (click for live build-up)*
Group A: Atlético de Madrid vs Lokomotiv Moskva
Group A: Bayern vs Salzburg
Group B: Mönchengladbach vs Shakhtar Donetsk (18:55 CET)
Group B: Inter vs Real Madrid
Group C: Olympiacos vs Manchester City (18:55 CET)
Group C: Marseille vs Porto
Group D: Liverpool vs Atalanta
Group D: Ajax vs Midtjylland
*21:00 CET unless stated
Bayern racking up records again
Last season, Bayern enjoyed the best group stage in UEFA Champions League history, winning all of their games, scoring 24 goals and conceding just five. Top scorers with 12 in 2020/21, they are halfway to a similar tally, though their 6-2 win at Salzburg last time out was less emphatic than it looked; “It was definitely a great game for neutrals, but not so much for the coach,” said Hansi Flick. The Austrian champions will see some hope as they come to Munich, while Bayern can extend their unprecedented UEFA Champions League winning run to 15 games.
Inter in danger of being cast adrift
Bottom of a topsy-turvy Group B, Inter can feel aggrieved as they welcome the team above them, Real Madrid. Antonio Conte’s side drew their opening two games, then came back from two goals down in Madrid last time out only to ultimately lose 3-2. “We play well but always make some mistakes,” sighed forward Lautaro Martínez, who – like Atalanta’s Duván Zapata – has hit the woodwork twice in this campaign already. Inter can ill afford any more slip-ups in Milan, but Conte remains hopeful: “There are nine points still at stake, we can still fight for qualification.”
Jota seeks another bite at Atalanta
Jürgen Klopp was purring at the class of his front three after a 5-0 win at Atalanta last time out: “I don’t think any system could have defended tonight Sadio [Mané], Mo [Salah] and Diogo [Jota].” Summer signing Jota is battling Roberto Firmino for a regular Reds’ starting slot, and did his cause no harm with a hat-trick in Bergamo. “I’m playing in the best team in my career so far, that’s for sure,” said the summer signing from Wolves. A few more UEFA Champions League goals might cement his place in the first XI.
Olympiacos offer a test for City
Olympiacos kicked off with a 1-0 win against Marseille on Matchday 1, but the trail has since gone cold for Pedro Martins’ side, beaten 2-0 at Porto and then 3-0 at Manchester City last time out. The Greek press blamed an early goal conceded and wasteful finishing for that latter loss, but Josep Guardiola’s side will know that ‘The Legend’ can be a very different proposition in Piraeus, where they have lost only two of their last 16 UEFA matches. “If we can play like we did in the second half [at City], we can get something more out of the encounter,” promised Martins.
Onyeka the centre of attention
After three matchdays, Midtjylland midfielder Frank Onyeka had committed the most fouls (13) and was also the most fouled player (14) in the group stage – a measure of the 22-year-old’s all-action, ball-winning game. Courted by bigger clubs following his side’s title win, Onyeka has experienced huge ups and downs this season; his father died in the summer (and he was unable to attend the funeral due to COVID-19 travel restrictions), before he made his senior Nigeria debut in October. However, as Ajax will doubtless be reminded, his battling spirit remains unchanged.
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