Zidane and Madrid on brink of club first – Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk December 09, 2020

While Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Porto have already secured their place in the Champions League knockout stages, some big names are in danger of a shock elimination.

After making history by leading Real Madrid to three straight Champions League titles during his first stint as head coach, Zinedine Zidane is on the verge of another first that could well place his future at the club in serious jeopardy.

Inter are also fighting for their future in the competition, as are Atletico Madrid and semi-finalists from the past two campaigns Ajax and Atalanta.

Ahead of what is sure to be a thrilling finale to the group stage, we take a look at the best stats courtesy of Opta.

 

Midtjylland v Liverpool: A first in reach for Reds

Jurgen Klopp's men are already guaranteed to finish top of Group D but victory over bottom side Midtjylland will see them register five wins in a single Champions League group stage for the first time.

Their form on matchday six in the competition is strong too. They have triumphed in each of their past three final group stage matches by an aggregate score of 10-0.

Taking three points would see the Reds become just the third Premier League side, after Chelsea in 2003-04 and Manchester United in 2010-11, to win all three of their away games in the group stage.

Should Caoimhin Kelleher be given another opportunity between the posts, he could become the first Liverpool goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in their first two Champions League starts.

Salzburg v Atletico Madrid: Shoot-out for progression

Atletico will be looking to avoid just a second exit at this stage in their eighth campaign in the competition under Diego Simeone.

They will need to be wary of Salzburg forward Mergim Berisha, who has scored four goals in as many Champions League starts for the club this season – only Erling Haaland (eight in 2019-20) has scored more for the Austrian side in a single campaign in Europe's premier club competition.

Enock Mwepu will be another threat for the visitors, having attempted six shots and created four chances in Salzburg's 3-1 win over Lokomotiv Moscow last time out.

Ahead of matchday six, only two players had been directly involved in more shots in a Champions League game this season – Lionel Messi and Munir El Haddad played a part in 11 against Ferencvaros and Krasnodar respectively.

Real Madrid v Borussia Monchengladbach: Blancos on the brink

A win will see Zidane's struggling Madrid into the knockout rounds and avoid the ignominy of suffering their first Champions League group stage exit after 28 consecutive progressions.

The drop-off this season can be seen in the fact their defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk last time out was Madrid's fourth in their past seven matches in the competition – they only lost five of their first 39 Champions League games under Zidane (W25 D9).

Goals should be expected at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, with the previous five meetings between the teams seeing 20 goals scored with 10 apiece.

Gladbach just need to avoid defeat to advance and some game time for Alassane Plea would likely help them achieve that; he has been directly involved in eight goals (five scored, three assisted) in his five Champions League appearances at an average of one every 45 minutes.

Inter v Shakhtar Donetsk: Conte's San Siro woe

Failure to win against high-flying Shakhtar at San Siro will see Inter bow out at the group stage for a third consecutive season. Before this run, they had advanced from 11 of their 12 pool appearances (including the second group stage) in the competition.

Shakhtar may have beaten Madrid twice but they have a goal difference of minus seven; the only teams to have advanced with such a record after five games are Galatasaray in 2013-14 and Atalanta in 2019-20.

Inter will therefore be hoping Romelu Lukaku can help get them over the line. The Belgium striker has played a role in 17 goals in his 15 European matches for the Nerazzurri, including scoring a double in a 5-0 success over the Ukrainian side in last season's Europa League semi-final.

A strong performance from Lukaku would go a significant way to ensuring Antonio Conte does not become the first Inter coach to oversee a Champions League group stage campaign without a home win.

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Atalanta

2 - Ajax are unbeaten in their last seven games against Italian opponents in the Champions League, but five of these have ended in draws. They must win to reach the last 16.

4 - Atalanta went winless at home in the Champions League group stage this season (D2 L1), yet will qualify for the knockout rounds if they avoid defeat here. It will be just the fourth time a team has picked up as little as two points at home in a group stage and still qualified for the next round, after Roma in 2002-03 and Milan in both 2009-10 and 2012-13.

Bayern Munich v Lokomotiv Moscow

13 - Bayern drew 1-1 against Atletico in their most recent Champions League outing – the first time they failed to win in the competition under Hansi Flick after he oversaw 12 straight victories.

1 - Lokomotiv have drawn both of their away games in the Champions League this season and have never previously gone unbeaten away from home in a single season in the competition.

Manchester City v Marseille

16 – If City beat Marseille they will have accrued 16 points in the Champions League group stage this season, the joint-most of any English side in a single campaign along with Arsenal in 2005-06 (finalists), Manchester United in 2007-08 (winners), and Tottenham in 2017-18 (last 16).

8 - Marseille have lost each of their past seven away games in the Champions League and another defeat here would see them record their worst ever losing run on the road in the competition.

Olympiacos v Porto

100 - Olympiacos have won all three of their home Champions League matches against Porto, in three successive seasons between 1997 and 1999 – it is their best 100 per cent record on their own patch against any side in the competition.

4 - Porto have kept a clean sheet in four consecutive Champions League matches since conceding three goals away to Manchester City in October – the last side to record five or more consecutive shutouts in the competition was Juventus in 2016-17. Manchester City are also on a run of four.

Related items

  • Ashwin claims 400th Test wicket to join list of India greats Ashwin claims 400th Test wicket to join list of India greats

    Ravichandran Ashwin became only the fourth India player to take 400 Test wickets, reaching the landmark on a dramatic second day of the third match in the series against England.

    The all-rounder trapped Jofra Archer lbw in England's second innings as he achieved the career feat in a low-scoring day-night match at the spectacular Narendra Modi Stadium.

    Ashwin joins Anil Kumble, Kapil Dev and Harbhajan Singh on the distinguished list of those to claim 400 scalps in the longest format for India.

    The 34-year-old is the 16th player to the milestone overall, getting there in only his 77th match. He is the second fastest to 400 too, behind only Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan in terms of games played.

    Ashwin moved six wickets shy of the milestone by taking match figures of 8-95 in an emphatic defeat of Joe Root's side at M.A. Chidambaram Stadium last time out, having claimed 9-207 in the first Test.

    He also struck a sublime century - the fifth of his career - in a magnificent man-of-the-match performance at his home ground in Chennai, where India levelled the series at 1-1.

    After claiming 3-26 as the tourists were bowled out for 112 on day one of the game in Ahmedabad, Ashwin removed Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope before Archer became his 400th Test victim, given out for a two-ball duck after attempting a sweep shot.

    Sachin Tendulkar - Test cricket's all-time leading runscorer - was quick to congratulate his compatriot on Twitter.

    "Terrific consistency!" Tendulkar wrote. "Well done, keep it up. Joy to watch you bowl."

  • Five Inter staff members test positive for coronavirus Five Inter staff members test positive for coronavirus

    Inter have confirmed that five members of staff have tested positive for coronavirus.

    Managing directors Alessandro Antonello and Giuseppe Marotta, sporting director Piero Ausilio and lawyer Angelo Capellini have all returned positive tests.

    An unspecified member of the Serie A leaders' technical staff has also tested positive for COVID-19.

    A statement on Inter's official website read: "All coaches and the entire team will follow the procedures set out in the health protocol."

    Inter will be desperate to ensure that this outbreak does not spread to their first-team squad or coaches.

    The Italians extended their lead at the summit of table to four points with a 3-0 win over city rivals Milan last time out.

    With no European commitments over the remainder of the season, Antonio Conte's men are strong favourites to end an 11-year wait for the title.

    They last lifted the Scudetto during Jose Mourinho's spell at the club in 2010, which also brought European Cup success.

    Juventus, who have won the last nine Serie A titles, sit eight points back in third place with a game in hand.

    Inter are next in action on Sunday, when they face Genoa at the San Siro.

  • Root rips through India as England captain claims five-wicket haul Root rips through India as England captain claims five-wicket haul

    Captain Joe Root was England's unlikely star with the ball, claiming his first five-wicket haul as India were bowled out for 145 in the third Test. 

    After managing just 112 in their first innings at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad, the tourists needed quick wickets on day two to stay in the contest, India resuming their reply on 99-3. 

    The hosts moved their score on to 114 without further loss in the first session, only to then endure a stunning collapse of their own, their last seven wickets falling for 41 runs.

    Root grabbed the majority of them to finish with stunning figures of 5-8. His previous best in first-class cricket was 4-5, while he had also claimed a four-wicket haul in his Test career, against South Africa in Port Elizabeth in January 2020. 

    His off-spin found help on a turning surface as he conceded the fewest runs in a Test five-wicket haul for an England player since Arthur Gilligan's 6-7, South Africa the opponents back in 1924.

    It was also the first five-for by an England captain since Bob Willis' 5-35 against New Zealand in 1983.

    Jack Leach backed up his skipper with 4-54 as India were restricted to a 33-run lead after both teams had batted once in the game, with the four-match series in the balance at 1-1.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.