After three games for each club, it is starting to become clear who the biggest surprises and disappointments are in this year’s tournament. Here are our takeaways now that Matchday 3 is over, and we are halfway through the group stage.
Biggest Surprises After Matchday 3
A few clubs and players are overachieving after the first three matches of the Group Stage – especially one surprise from the Bundesliga and a new transfer on Liverpool/
Borussia Monchengladbach Leads Their Group
At the start of the tournament, My Top Sportsbooks had Real Madrid as the favourite to win Group B. However, after three matches it is Borussia Monchengladbach unexpectedly leading the group with a 1-2-0 mark and a +6-goal differential. They will need at least one more if they are to advance to the knockout phase. If they can win and Shakhtar Donetsk can stay in second, then it will be the first year since 1996-97 we have not seen Real Madrid in the knockout stage.
Scoring Continues to Rise
Another surprise is the continuing rise of scoring at the tournament. Of the 32 clubs in the tournament, 14 are averaging at least two goals per game. Scoring is up across the tournament, with Bayern Munich leading the way with 12 goals. At 4.00 goals per match, Bayern Munich would break the record set last year of 3.91 goals per match. Overall, the first leg of the Champions League is averaging 3.25 goals per game, which is up 0.01 from last year and up 0.41 goals from 2010-11.
Some Surprising Players Leading the Tournament in Goals
After three games, the leader in goals is not Robert Lewandowski, Cristiano Ronaldo, or Kylian Mbappe – the three players with the best odds to be the top scorer. No, the leader broad is topped by four players – many of which were longshots to lead the tournament. The biggest surprise has to be Diogo Jota of Liverpool. Jota joined Liverpool in September 2020 from Wolverhampton. As a member of Wolverhampton, Jota played in the Europa League last season – netting nine goals in 14 appearances. Those numbers were impressive, but not good enough to give people faith he would explode for four goals in three games (but three more goals in the Premier League). It is also surprising, considering teammate Mohamed Salah was in the top-ten for best odds to lead the tournament in goals.
Biggest Disappointments After Matchday 3
Some of the wealthiest clubs and biggest players in the world have yet to do much in the tournament, leading them to top our choices as early disappointments.
PSG Looks Flat
Paris Saint-Germain losing twice in the first three matches makes them a definite candidate for biggest disappointment at the 2020-21 UEFA Champions League. While they draw what is considered the Group of Death at this year’s tournament, losing to Manchester United and RB Leipzig still hurts. PSG needs to win the rematches – likely against both teams – to make it into the knockout stage. Failing to do so should have people questioning what the problem with PSG and their high-priced roster.
Will Real Madrid Even Make it Out of the Group Stage?
As mentioned in the first part, Real Madrid is really struggling at this year’s tournament. Their defence fell flat on their face last game, losing 3-0 to Shakhtar Donetsk. Shakhtar Donetsk was shutout in their first two matches of the tournament. Real Madrid still has three games left to make up the one point they are behind. However, even if they make it, they are not the powerhouse club that dominated the tournament through the 2010s.
Where are the Stars?
While a few of the biggest names have performed well in the early goings of the tournament, some of the best players in the world are not showing up on the stat sheets. Kylian Mbappe has yet to score. Robert Lewandowski is two goals behind the leader, despite playing on the highest-scoring team in the tournament. Cristiano Ronaldo failed to score in his single Champions League game – despite taking five shots. There is still plenty of tournament left, but for some of these clubs, if their stars do not start contributing soon, it could spell an early exit from the tournament.