February will officially bring back the UEFA Champions League action as a team will look to battle through the Round of 16 to the quarterfinals.
Defending champions Manchester City and Bayern Munich have had perfect runs in the group stage and expect to do the same in the next two rounds. With Jude Bellingham in his prime, Real Madrid looks ferocious as they search for another Champions League title.
The question asked in February will be about which team will book the Champions League final tickets.
There are several contenders, but the final quest depends on the players’ performance. The group stage saw several exceptional performances from star players, which propelled most fans to look at Champions League final tickets in the first place.
The Champions League group stage was on fire from the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Erling Haaland, and Rasmus Højlund.
The biggest question in February will be about what team will be the contender for the Champions League final tickets.
With several contenders, the challenge to the final will entirely depend on the player’s performance. The group stage saw stand-out performances from several star players who were pivotal in moving their respective teams forward.
Antoine Griezmann, Erling Haaland, and Rasmus Højlund set the Champions League group stage on fire.
The 6th matchday in the group stage was lonesome, with only Antonio Greizmann, the only player to score amongst the top scorers.
Atletico ended up winning the game 2-0 against Lazio with a goal from Griezmann.
The win, along with the goal from Griezmann, elevated him to the top of the goal scorer list, with him bringing in 5 goals.
He joined Haaland and Rasmus Højlund as joint top-goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League.
Haaland’s achievements at a young age are always exemplary. This year, he became the youngest player to reach 40 goals in the tournament. With Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City, Haaland is slowly building his legacy within the Champions League.
He already has five goals under his name, and if City goes through to defend their title, he might eventually take home the Golden Boot for a second successive season.
The first two games were disappointing for the Norwegian striker, with him not getting any goals, but Haaland fought back, to score five goals in the next three outings. Haaland also did not play Match Day 6.
Haaland has consistently shown he is the best in the business, but injuries have kept him away during the season. The good news for Manchester City is that he is slowly regaining his touch.
With Kevin De Bruyne back, expect Haaland to extend his scoring spree.
One of the outliers in the top-scoring list is Rasmus Højlund. While Manchester United has had a miserable Champions League group stage outing, with the team finishing bottom last, the youngster showed promise with his individual performance.
The brace against Galatasaray was crucial for Manchester United then, but it did not favour the Reds. He scored another two goals against FC Copenhagen and the all-important goal against Bayern in the game that United lost 4-3.
On the contrary, the effort from Alvaro Morata was an exception, with him getting the team’s fanbase riled up looking for Champions League final tickets.
Morata’s goals set the stage for Atletico to win 4 out of the six games, and eventually sit on top of the table.
Eight other players have four goals, including Evanilson, who had a memorable hat trick against Antwerp on Matchday 3.
Other players who have four are Julián Álvarez, Gabriel Jesus, Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane, and Danylo Sikan.
Of the above players, Alvarez and Jesus have the opportunity to improve on their tally as they proceed to the next round.
The chasing pack behind them are 11 more players with three gaols under their name. The noteworthy mentions go to Joao Felix, Phil Foden and Kylian Mbappe.
5 Antoine Griezmann (Atlético de Madrid)
5 Erling Haaland (Man City)
5 Rasmus Højlund (Man United)
5 Álvaro Morata (Atlético de Madrid)
4 Julián Álvarez (Man City)
4 Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)
4 Evanilson (Porto)
4 Galeno (Porto)
4 Gabriel Jesus (Arsenal)
4 Harry Kane (Bayern)
4 Loïs Openda (Leipzig)
4 Danylo Sikan (Shakhtar)
3 João Félix (Barcelona)
3 Phil Foden (Man City)
3 Ciro Immobile (Lazio)
3 Joselu (Real Madrid)
3 Lukas Lerager (Copenhagen)
3 João Mário (Benfica)
3 Kylian Mbappé (Paris)
Saka Leads Assists
Arsneal’s forward Bukayo Saka assisted four goals in his five outings in the group stage and is the leader for assists along with Porto’s Galeno. Atletico combination Nahuel Molina and Samuel Lino and Warren Zaïre-Emery of Paris are one behind.
Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane, and Ikay Gundogan also have three assists under their name.
Players among the teams who are now officially out of the competition with three assists are Braga’s Ricardo Horta, Celtic’s Matt O’Reilly and the former Barcelona cap Ivan Rakitic, who currently plays for Sevilla.
4 Bukayo Saka (Arsenal)
4 Galeno (Porto)
3 Jude Bellingham (Real Madrid)
3 İlkay Gündoğan (Barcelona)
3 Ricardo Horta (Braga)
3 Harry Kane (Bayern)
3 Samuel Lino (Atlético de Madrid)
3 Nahuel Molina (Atlético de Madrid)
3 Matt O’Riley (Celtic)
3 Ivan Rakitić (Sevilla)
3 Warren Zaïre-Emery (Paris)
The Race for Golden Boot
This year’s Golden Boot race will entirely depend on which team makes the final. The title has several contenders, but looking away from Haaland, Greizmann, Bellingham and Harry Kane takes a lot of work.
All of them have a chance to win the award, but it will depend on how their teams will progress. Erling Haaland and Manchester City had a glorious run last time, getting the Champions League final tickets and finally winning it. He scored 12 in total, but this time around, things are different. There’s more to the competition than Manchester City, which will be a tight tussle.
Harry Kane and Bayern Munich have struggled in domestic competitions, but it feels like they are getting their act together. Harry Kane will inevitably be the Goldne Boot winner if Bayern makes the finals since he has been a pivotal contributor to Bayern’s overall goal-scoring tally and will want to ensure he ends the trophy-less drought.
Champions League top scorers by season (group stage to final)
2022/23: Erling Haaland (Man City) 12
2021/22: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) 15
2020/21: Erling Haaland (Dortmund) 10
2019/20: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern) 15
2018/19: Lionel Messi (Barcelona) 12
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