Fearsome foursome from the Bundesliga progress
For the first time since the 2014-5 season all four of the Bundesliga’s representatives in the Champions League have advanced to the last 16 of the competition. Defending champions Bayern Munich did it in style, winning five of their six group games, in the process setting a Champions League record with 15 consecutive victories. In addition they were top scorers in the group stages with 18 goals. Borussia Dortmund likewise secured top spot in their group with a 2-1 win in St Petersburg on Tuesday evening. Striker Erling Haaland is joint top scorer in the competition with six goals, despite misssing the last two matches. RB Leipzig entered their match against Manchester United knowing they needed a win to progress. Coach Julian Nagelsmann had clearly fired his team up as they put their opponents to the sword from the outset, scoring in the second minute. When Justin Kluivert made it 3-0 with 20 minutes to go it seemed all over. However Manchester United weren‘t finished, scoring twice in two minutes to set up a nerve wracking finale. In the end though it was too little too late and RBL survived. The team no one in Germany likes will now be looking to emulate last season’s campaign when they made a run to the semi-finals. The team that finished fourth in last season’s Bundesliga, Borussia Mönchengladbach, entered the final round of matches unexpectedly leading their group. A win or draw at Real Madrid would secure their first ever place in the last 16 of the Champions League (they are former finalists of the old European Cup, losing to Liverpool in 1977). They had clearly been watching the Leipzig v Manchester United game 24 hours earlier ... but came out looking more like the English team rather than their successful countrymen. They trailed to two Benzema headers on 25 minutes and were fortunate that the final score remained only 2-0, as Madrid hit the woodwork several times. However their passage through to the knock-out stages was assured by the draw that took place in the other group game between Inter Milan and Shaktar Donetsk. Following the conclusion of the game in Madrid, the Mönchengladbach players huddled round a TV screen and duly celebrated when the referee in Milan blew for full time with the score at 0-0.
Manager Marco Rose said after the game “We most deservedly lost today, but we deserve to have progressed.” Meanwhile midfielder Lars StIndl said “It‘s madness! We played our worst game of the campaign yet we still made it through!”