The first half of 2020 was bad for football fans, with sports around the world suspended due to the ongoing pandemic.
When they returned in early summer, their schedule was busier than ever to make up for the lost time. Football leagues across Europe were rushing through the remaining matches of their seasons to be able to send their best to the European championships. And they resumed playing after a seriously shortened summer vacation.
The 2020-2021 season of the UEFA Champions League had quite a few surprises for us, with the poor performance of Barcelona being one of them. The tournament’s group stage is coming to an end, though, with players and officials taking a well-deserved vacation for the holidays. Sports analysts and soccer betting outlets around the world now have the tough job of predicting who will prove the best football team in Europe.
The tipsters’ job is not an easy one. Bookmakers are expected to offer punters predictions as correct as they possibly can. Predicting the odds for a match that will take place in weeks is not easy – let alone in an unpredictable situation like we have at hand today. So today, let’s look at a closer point in the future: who will progress from the tournament’s group stage to the knockout stage.
Who is certainly in
The list of teams that have decisively won their group is pretty short – at the time of writing, there are still matches to be finished before a clear list can be decided. So far, Bayern Munich is clearly in, with Atlético Madrid and Red Bull Salzburg still having a chance to make it. In Group B, the differences between the teams’ scores are small, so the winner is still undecided. Manchester City clearly won Group C followed by Porto, with Olympiacos and Marseille battling it out for Europa League. In Group D, Liverpool clearly won but the difference between Ajax and Atalanta (ahead right now) is also small. Group E’s Chelsea and Sevilla are already in, with Krasnodar heading to the Europa League, and Rennes going home. In Group F, Borussia Dortmund is followed by Lazio to the knockout stage, while Zenith is going home to Sankt Petersburg. Juventus won Group G by goal difference, slightly ahead of Barcelona. The single win of Dynamo Kyiv was enough for the team to relegate to the Europa League – they sent Hungary’s Ferencváros home. Finally, the winners of Group H are still undecided. RB Leipzig is currently ahead, leading Paris Saint Germain by three points, while PSG was expected to defeat İstanbul Başakşehir but an unfortunate incident involving a Romanian referee and a seriously offensive choice of words caused PSG’s players to leave the turf, and the match to be postponed.
All the teams that qualify for the UEFA Champions League will play two legs – one at home. The opponents will be decided by draw on 14 December 2020. The teams will play their first leg in February, followed by a second in March. The winners will proceed to the quarter-finals held in April, followed by the semi-finals in late April – early May and the final on 29 May 2021 held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul.