St. Petersburg’s FC Zenit have had a great run of matches this season and out of 32 teams, they are still the only undefeated side in 2015 UEFA Champions League. On Match-Day 4 during November 3 & 4, 2015, the Russian team assured itself of a place in the knock-out phase by scoring its fourth victory in 4 matches. Joining them as the only other two qualified teams are Real Madrid and Manchester City. The remaining 13 places will be decided on Match-Days 5th 24/25 November and 6th on 8/9 December. Macabbi Tel Aviv lost to Porto at home and Monchengladbach drew with Juventus on Match-Day 4 and therefore lost all hopes of making it to the round-of-sixteen. With 3 wins in four matches, FC Barcelona in Group E, Bayern Munich & Olympiacos in Group F and two Portuguese Clubs; SL Benefica in Group C and FC Porto in Group G are very close to knock-out qualifications. The same cannot be said about some of the big Clubs like Paris Saint Germain and Manchester United.
Match-Day 4 had some interesting contests that included FC Zenit’s 2-0 away-game victory in Group H over Lyon. Both goals were scored by Artem Dzyuba with assistance from Hulk, who was brilliant as usual. In a comeback home victory for Olympiacos in Group F, Colombian Felipe Pardo came off the bench in the 64th minute, when Olympiacos were 0-1 down against Dinamo Zagreb. One minute from his entry, Pardo netted the equalizer and just at the final whistle, he scored the winning goal to bring Olympiacos to within one point of knock-out qualification.
In Group A, Real Madrid won their home game against PSG 1-0 and booked themselves in the round-of-sixteen. It was a hard-fought win as the visitors attacked the Real goal repeatedly at the start. With ex-Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria playing superbly and feeding Serge Aurier, PSG came close to scoring on several occasions. PSG star Zlatan Ibrahimovic brought off two dangerously curling shots but failed to find the target. Despite all such offense, Real Madrid took the lead in the 35th minute. Toni Kroos sent a long-range drive that was deflected high into the air towards the goal. Unfortunately PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp slipped and Madrid defender Nacho seized the moment to volley into an open goal. Despite the 0-1 deficit, PSG continued to attack Real Madrid goal in a frenetic second half but couldn’t find the target regardless. With 3 points from the win, Real Madrid clinched their knock-out phase spot.
In Group C, SL Benefica defeated Galatasaray 2-1 in Lisbon. That took Benefica to the top of the Group with a strong possibility to clinch a place in the knock-out phase. Another Portuguese Club FC Porto in Group G also scored their third win in four matches to come tantalizingly close to round-of-sixteen qualification. Porto expelled Maccabi Tel Aviv out of the Champions League with a 3-1 victory in Israel. In a Group F match, German champions Bayern Munich handed a 5-1 drubbing to English Premier League club Arsenal. More about that game can be found on these pages in an earlier article posted on November 6 by Kridangan’s football specialist John Welsh. Bayern are now just one point away for qualification in the knock-out phase. The same is true of FC Barcelona, who defeated FC Bate Borisov 3-0 at Camp Nou in a Group E match. Three teams in Group E have won one match each and they are still in with a chance to qualify. On November 4, AS Roma scored their first win by defeating Bayern Leverkusen 1-0 at home. In Group B, Manchester United kept their hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over CSKA Moskva at Old Trafford and in the same Group PSV Eindhoven scored a 2-0 home victory over Wolfsburg to also remain in qualifying contention. After FC Benefica, Atletico Madrid have the best chances of qualifying in Group C despite their 0-0 draw with Kazakh club FC Astana. But Germany’s Monchengladbach made their Champions League exit, when they drew 1-1 against Italy’s Juventus on Match-Day 4. The next two Match-Days, beginning in less than three weeks’ time, hold intriguing possibilities for qualifying contention for 13 other teams.
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