TOP OF THE POPS

Soccer 360 - - Champs League -

Five teams went through the group stages un­beaten, and of those five, Porto amassed the high­est points tally af­ter win­ning five and draw­ing one in Group D. True, the com­pe­ti­tion was nowhere near as fierce as in other sec­tions, but the Por­tuguese cham­pi­ons won all of their games af­ter a 1-1 draw at Schalke in the first round of fix­tures. That in­cludes an en­ter­tain­ing 3-2 vic­tory away at Galatasaray in their fi­nal match, never an easy place to go.

Bay­ern Munich and Barcelona were two of the other teams who breezed through without a de­feat. The Bun­desliga gi­ants couldn’t get the bet­ter of Ajax home or away, con­ced­ing a 95th-minute equaliser to the Dutch out­fit at the Jo­han Cruyff Arena. Bay­ern won all of their other games though, in­spired by the tour­na­ment’s top scorer so far, Robert Le­wandowski.

Sec­ond in the scor­ing charts is Lionel Messi. Barcelona’s lit­tle ma­gi­cian has six goals to his name, and looked as bril­liant as ever as he helped his team to top spot in Group B. Qual­i­fy­ing along­side Ernesto Valverde’s side is Tot­ten­ham, who pulled off a stun­ning come­back from the brink of elim­i­na­tion.

The Pre­mier League out­fit failed to win any of their open­ing three games, los­ing their first two. How­ever, they sealed their spot in the knock­out rounds with a nar­row vic­tory over In­ter at Wem­b­ley, be­fore a point at Camp Nou where they en­joyed more pos­ses­sion than Barcelona. It may have been a weak­ened Barca team, but it still con­tained two of the world’s most ex­pen­sive play­ers, Philippe Coutinho and Ous­mane Dem­bele, while Messi was on the pitch when Spurs equalised late on.

Paris Saint-Ger­main scored more goals than any other team in the group stages, bang­ing in 17 across their six matches. Ney­mar got five of those, with the dar­ling of world football, Kylian Mbappe, net­ting three. PSG’s vi­brant at­tack spurred them on to top their group ahead of Liver­pool, who only se­cured their progress to the last 16 on the fi­nal match­day with a nerve-jan­gling 1-0 vic­tory over Napoli at An­field.

Fel­low English side Manch­ester City found the go­ing a lit­tle tougher than the Pre­mier League, but went on to top their section by five points from Lyon. Crosstown ri­vals Manch­ester United pulled off a throw­back late show to win from be­hind against Ju­ven­tus in Turin, but Jose Mour­inho’s side were out­played by the Old Lady in their first meeting at Old Traf­ford. Paulo Dy­bala starred in that game, while Cris­tiano Ron­aldo re­minded his old club what they’ve been miss­ing since he left English shores.

“The Cham­pi­ons League is the fi­nal fron­tier for Manch­ester City” TOP:Manch­ester City is look­ing to go all the wayBOT­TOM:Bay­ern is look­ing strong as al­waysRIGHT:Real Madrid are look­ing to make his­tory by win­ning the Cham­pi­ons League for the fourth time in a rowMAIN (OP­PO­SITE PAGE):Lionel Messi looked as good as ever as Barcelona made safe pas­sage through the Cham­pi­ons League group stage

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