Italians Dominate League Action

Italy dominated this week’s Matchday Five action with all four Italian participants posting victories. Superpowers Bayern Munich, Ajax, Barcelona, Chelsea, and defending champion Liverpool are all through to the knockout round of sixteen. Regular fixtures Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven will all need to win and in some instances get help in Matchday Six to advance.

The UEFA Champions League Cup features the thirty-two best teams in Europe based on their finishes in their respective leagues from the previous year. The thirty-two are seed into eight groups of four who play a home-and-home round robin format. The top two point-getters advance to the knockout round while the third place team is relegated to the consolation UEFA Cup draw. Last place teams are eliminated from Europe.

Italian champ Juventus beat defensive minded Brugge 1-0 on a 80th minute goal by veteran Alessandro Del Piero to lock up their group and move on. Inter beat upsart Artmedia 4-0 behind a triple from Brazilian striker Adriano. The neroazzuri have also clinched their group and move on. Milan beat Turkish champ Fenerbahce 4-0 with former Euro Player of the Year Andruiy Shevchenko netting the first \”four-pack\” in Champion\’s League history. Milan controls its own destiny in its group finale. Upstart Udinese scored twice in the final 20 minutes to beat Panathiakos 2-1 and will need a hard to come by point vs. Barcelona to guarantee their advancement.

Below are the Group Standings and Matchday Five results along with scenarios outlining advancement into the round of sixteen. Matchday Six will be played on Tuesday and Wednesday December 6th and 7th.

Group A: Bayern Munich 12 points, Juventus 12, Brugge 6, Rapid Vienna 0

This group is finalized with Bayern and Juventus moving on. Munich got two goals from Dutch ace Roy Makaay in 4-0 route of rapid. Juve bested Brugge 1-0 on late goal by verteran Del Piro. Brugge has secured place in Uefa Cup. Brugge hosts Bayern while Juventus travels to Rapid in what amounts to a Friendly.

Group B: Arsenal 15, Ajax 10, Thun 3, Sparta Prague 1

Arsenal beat Thun 1-0 on late goal by Pires and travel to Ajax for tuneup. Nigel de Jong got both Ajax goals in 2-1 win over Sparta. Ajax is through. Thun needs a home draw against Sparta to send home the Czechs and a position in Uefa.

Group C: Barcelona 15, Udinese 7, Panathinaikos 4, Werder Bremen 5

Ronaldinho had a goal and an assist in Barcelona\’s 3-1 win over Werder Bremen. Barca is perfect through five matches. Udinese need home draw against La Liga\’s best Bursa Taruhan Bola Liga Champion or Panathinaikos win to move on. Weder Bremen would advance with win over Pana and Udinese loss. A Werder/Pana draw would eliminate the Germans with the Greek champs continuing on in the consolation.

Group D: Villareal 7, Lille 6, Manchester United 6, Benefica 5

Lille at Benefica and Villareal at Manchester United both drew 0-0 setting up complicated final leg. Villareal continue with a draw or with a loss and Manchester Unied loss or draw. United is through with a win at Benefica or with draw and Lille loss. Lille, despite just one goal in five matches, continue on with road win or draw and Manchester United loss.

Group E: Milan 8, Schalke 7, PSV 7, Fenerbahce 4

Milan eliminated Fenerbahce with 3-1 win. Red-Devils need home win or 0-0, 1-1 draw against Schalke. The Germans advance with a draw or loss with a PSV loss. The Dutchmen must win or draw at home vs. Fenerbahce or they\’ll be going home.

Group F: Lyon 13, Real Madrid 10, Rosenborg 4, Olympiakos 1

Lyon and Real Madrid drew 1-1 at Stadio Bernabeu, Guti and Carew exchanging goals. Lyon has now gone an entire calender year without a loss of any type. Rosenborg secured their spot in Uefa by netting a rebound 83rd minute of their 1-1 draw at Lerkendal Stadium. Rosenborg at Lyon and Real Madrid at Olympiakos are just formalities.

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