Champions League report card at halfway stage of group campaign 

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After what seems like no time at all, every side is three matches down in the Champions League and we’re at half-time in the group stage.

So far, in a tightly congested European calendar there’s been plenty of talking points in just about every group.

Defending champions Real Madrid, along with Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain have made predictable lightning lights.

Napoli though have exploded out of the blocks with 13 goals in their opening three games and Club Brugge have been the surprise package of the competition.

Six teams – Napoli, Club Brugge, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Manchester City  and Borussia Dortmund can book their place in the last-16 with a victory on matchday four next week. 

Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham all have a bit more work to do, but not as much as Scottish sides Celtic and Rangers – who are both still winless in the competition.

But who are the teams with work to do to maintain their place in Europe’s elite tournament? Sportsmail runs through each group. 

Napoli have been in stunning form in the opening three weeks of the Champions League

Napoli have been in stunning form in the opening three weeks of the Champions League

GROUP A

Napoli appear to be running away with the group with a 100% record and by scoring a staggering 13 goals in their opening three games.  

Luciano Spalletti’s side have appeared to take a giant stride both domestically and in Europe, topping the Serie A table, while putting four goals past Liverpool, three against Rangers and six past Eredivisie champions Ajax.  

They have an exciting team with the likes of Piotr Zielinski, Giacomo Raspadori and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia all in inspired form.  The Italian side could qualify for the last-16 with a victory over Ajax on Wednesday.

Despite their struggles, Liverpool look best placed at present to join them in the next round. 

Liverpool are in a strong position to qualify despite their struggles this season - while Rangers' hopes look dead in the water after three straight defeats, nine goals conceded and zero scored

Liverpool are in a strong position to qualify despite their struggles this season – while Rangers’ hopes look dead in the water after three straight defeats, nine goals conceded and zero scored

Jurgen Klopp’s men have recovered from their battering at the hands of Napoli with victories over both of the other teams representing their group. Joel Matip’s 89th minute winner at Anfield against Ajax could prove decisive in terms of who else qualifies from this group.

Still, Liverpool will have to overcome a fiery atmosphere when they travel to Ibrox next week. If they are able to walk out with a victory, then their place in the next round will be all but sealed.

Rangers though look dead in the water with three defeats, nine goals conceded and zero scored.

They were handed a tough draw and going off how the group stage has started, it looks like they have some way to go to be challenging the top teams in Europe’s biggest competition.

A shock victory over Liverpool, and a Ajax defeat to Napoli though, could just put Rangers back in conversation to make it out of the group. 

Standout player – Giacomo Raspadori (Napoli)

Best performance – Napoli in 6-1 victory against Ajax 

Biggest shock – Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat by Napoli

Half-time report card: Napoli A+, Liverpool C, Ajax D, Rangers E 

GROUP B 

The award for the surprise package of the Champions League so far would undoubtedly have to be Club Brugge.

Regulars of the Champions League group stage, they have never made it to the knockout phase of the competition.

However, that all looks set to change after winning their opening three matches – 1-0 over Bayer Leverkusen, 4-0 away at Porto and 2-0 at home against Atletico Madrid.  

One win in their final three matches would be enough for the Belgian side to make it into the next round.

Ghanaian midfielder Kamal Sowah and former Barcelona academy star Ferran Jutgla have both impressed in particular, with the pair scoring in both the thrashing away at Porto, and the victory at home against Atletico Madrid.

Club Brugge are in a strong position to make it to the knockout stage after three straight wins

Club Brugge are in a strong position to make it to the knockout stage after three straight wins

Behind them it is set to be a fierce race to decide who will also make it to the knockout round.

Atletico Madrid look a shell of the team that clinched the LaLiga title two seasons ago but will still be favourites to make it into the next round.

Bayer Leverkusen will be hoping for a strong second half to the group stage having sacked Gerardo Seoane and replacing him with former Liverpool and Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso.

Porto bounced back strong from their heavy defeat by Club Brugge by beating Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday, and can never be ruled out given their Champions League experience.

Standout player – Ferran Jutgla (Club Brugge)

Best performance – Club Brugge 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Biggest shock – Club Brugge winning three games out of three

Half-time report card: Club Brugge A+, Porto D, Bayer Leverkusen D, Atletico Madrid D-

GROUP C

Bayern Munich might be without Robert Lewandowski, but they still look as formidable as ever with three comfortable victories to start the group stage. 

The Bundesliga giants still have a wide array of attacking talent, and Leroy Sane has appeared to take the mantle left by Lewandowski in the opening weeks of the group stage – scoring four goals in three games.

Lewandowski meanwhile scored a hat-trick for his new club against underdogs Viktoria Plzen, but could do nothing to help them in defeats by his former side and Inter Milan. 

Robert Lewandowski and Barcelona have work to do to make the next round after consecutive defeats to his former side Bayern Munich as well as Serie A giants inter Milan

Robert Lewandowski and Barcelona have work to do to make the next round after consecutive defeats to his former side Bayern Munich as well as Serie A giants inter Milan

Barcelona’s chances of making the last 16 took a severe blow thanks to Hakan Calhanoglu’s winner for Inter Milan earlier this week.

The decisive game of the group could come at the Nou Camp on Wednesday, with a victory for Inter Milan, making it near impossible that the Italian side can drop out of the top-two places.

A victory for Barcelona though would spice things up going into the final two games, with both teams likely to beat Viktoria Plzen, and the Catalan giants – unlike Inter Milan – still to play Bayern Munich at home.

Standout player – Leroy Sane (Bayern Munich) 

Best performance – Bayern Munich 2-0 Barcelona

Biggest shock – Barcelona after their busy summer being outside of the qualifying positions

Half-time report card: Bayern Munich A, Inter Milan B+, Barcelona C, Viktoria Plzen E

GROUP D

It’s all still to play for in Group D with three points separating all four teams at the midway stage.

Sporting Lisbon are only seventh in the Portuguese Primeira Liga, but top the table in their Champions League group after back-to-back victories over Eintracht Frankfurt and Tottenham.

Their 4-1 defeat at the hands of Marseille though has left the door wide open for the Portuguese side to be surpassed by the end of the group stage.

Tottenham have underwhelmed so far but still are in a strong position to make the last-16

Tottenham have underwhelmed so far but still are in a strong position to make the last-16

Out of all the English sides, Tottenham have arguably been the most disappointing in the Champions League, struggling in all three of their games so far.

Richarlison scored twice in the last 15 minutes against a 10-man Marseille to emerge with the victory, while they failed to find the back of the net against either Sporting Lisbon or Eintracht Frankfurt.

It had looked like a group that Tottenham should comfortably qualify from when the draw was made, but there is still a lot of work to do at the halfway stage.

Standout player – Marcus Edwards (Sporting Lisbon) 

Best performance – Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Sporting Lisbon

Biggest shock – Sporting Lisbon’s 2-0 victory over Tottenham 

Half-time report card: Sporting Lisbon B, Tottenham C, Eintracht Frankfurt C-, Marseille C-

GROUP E 

The closest out of any groups, with just two points separating top to bottom after three games.

Chelsea made a shocking start to the group with their 1-0 defeat by Dinamo Zagreb – a match which led to the sacking of Thomas Tuchel – before they were frustrated at Stamford Bridge as RB Salzburg netted a 75th minute equaliser to hold the Blues to a point.

There will be a great sense of optimism for Graham Potter’s side now though after their 3-0 victory over reigning Serie A champions AC Milan. 

Chelsea bounced back from a difficult start with a comfortable 3-0 win over AC Milan

Chelsea bounced back from a difficult start with a comfortable 3-0 win over AC Milan

The Blues though still have away trips to Salzburg and Milan, which could prove decisive over whether they will make it out of the group.

RB Salzburg have made a solid start to the group and are unbeaten after their three games so far with draws against Chelsea and AC Milan.

The Austrian side though are still to host Chelsea and travel to the San Siro.

Failure to qualify would be disappointing for AC Milan, who had high hopes to go further after also being knocked out at the group stage last season. 

Standout player – Reece James (Chelsea) 

Best performance – Chelsea 3-0 AC Milan

Biggest shock – Chelsea’s 1-0 defeat by Dinamo Zagreb 

Half-time report card: RB Salzburg B-, Chelsea C, AC Milan C-, Dinamo Zagreb D+

GROUP F

Reigning European champions Real Madrid sit in a strong position with maximum points after their opening three games so far – despite not playing to their full potential as yet.

They managed to keep clean sheets in their 3-0 victory over Celtic and 2-0 triumph over RB Leipzig, before they held on to a 2-1 lead against Shakhtar Donetsk.

A victory against Shakhtar on Matchday Four would seal their passage into the round of 16.

Celtic's Champions League challenge is falling flat with no win to their name after three games

Celtic’s Champions League challenge is falling flat with no win to their name after three games

Celtic did well to draw against the team sitting second in the group, but were comfortably outclassed by both Real Madrid and RB Leipzig.

Similar to bitter rivals Rangers, Celtic’s challenge is falling flat and a defeat in their next match would mean that a third placed Europa League spot would the best they can achieve.

Standout player – Vinicius Jr (Real Madrid)

Best performance – Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid 

Biggest shock – Shakhtar Donetsk’s 4-1 victory away at RB Leipzig

Half-time report card: Real Madrid A-, Shakhtar Donetsk C+, RB Leipzig D+, Celtic E+

GROUP G

Similar to the Premier League, Erling Haaland is running wild for Manchester City in the Champions League.

Five goals in three matches, while City have won three consecutive matches – though they needed an 84th minute winner from their Norwegian striker to seal three points against his former side Borussia Dortmund.

The Bundesliga side have also been excellent in the opening few games, with Jude Bellingham starring with four goals.

Erling Haaland's incredible Premier League form has been replicated in the Champions League

Erling Haaland’s incredible Premier League form has been replicated in the Champions League

Group G could be sown up this coming week, with victories for Man City and Borussia Dortmund enough to seal both team’s passage into the last 16 with two games remaining.

Both sides will be eager to finish top of their group though, while managerless Sevilla and Copenhagen will still be in for a battle to make the Europa League by finishing third. 

With four Europa League triumphs in the last nine years, those currently in Europe’s second competition will be keen for Sevilla not to be demoted into the competition. 

Standout player – Erling Haaland (Manchester City)

Best performance – Manchester City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund

Biggest shock – Dortmund nearly pulling off a shock against Man City.

Half-time report card: Man City A, Borussia Dortmund B, Sevilla E, Copenhagen D-

Group H

Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica are in the driving seat in Group H with three games left to play.

Danilo Pereira’s own goal which helped Benfica to a 1-1 draw against PSG, will have been a bitter blow for Juventus who are now four points off the Portuguese side.

With PSG more than likely to qualify, Juventus have been left with a lot of work to make the last-16.

Juventus will hope PSG can beat Benfica at home and that they can beat Maccabi Haifa this week, which would put the Italian side one point off second place before they travel to Portugal.

Juventus will have to fight for their lives to make it into the knockout phase of the tournament

Juventus will have to fight for their lives to make it into the knockout phase of the tournament

Max Allegri’s side though have had a sluggish start to the season and it will be tough for them to get something in Portugal.

PSG’s front three of Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar appear to be clicking more than last season.

That is a thought that could strike fear into teams across Europe, though like previous years, it will be more telling how PSG can cope in the knockout stages, after collapsing when it matters in recent years. 

Standout player – Lionel Messi (PSG)

Best performance – PSG 2-1 Juventus 

Biggest shock – Benfica’s 2-1 win away at Juventus

Half-time report card: PSG B+, Benfica B+, Juventus D-, Maccabi Haifa E

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