Pa Doug McIntyre
Posted by FOX Sports Soccer

There are only two rounds left until the end of the 2022-2023 group stage UEFA Champions Leaguethe knockout phase picture is starting to become clearer.

Here are five thoughts following the conclusion of an exciting, action-packed Round 4.

Barcelona survives, but barely

Two balls late at home Inter Milan On Wednesday, it seemed around the world that Barcelona would not be able to progress to the end of the world’s most prestigious club competition for the second straight season. It could easily happen.

The brightest stars shine in the biggest moments, though Robert Lewandowski showed exactly why he is Barca’s top transfer target in 2022, scoring a pair of equalizers in the last eight minutes late on to salvage a 3-3 draw that his side thoroughly undeserved.

The result kept Inter out of the second round, and it allowed the Catalan club to postpone their punishment, at least temporarily. Barcelona must now strike Bayern Munich at home and Czech minnow Victoria Pilsen on the road in the last two matches, and also hope that Bayern will not lose to Inter – who will undoubtedly take the last place in Pilsen – on the last day of play.

It could be too much, even with Lewandowski in the lineup.

Salah’s record-breaking hat-trick tops unstoppable Liverpool

It would probably be wise not to read too much into the Reds’ 7-1 win in Glasgow on Wednesday against Rangers. The hosts were greatly outmatched. Again, it was cathartic from Liverpool, given their frustrations, especially in the Premier League this season.

Mohamed Salah didn’t even start the game at Ibrox. He still scored three goals in six minutes in the second half – the fastest hat-trick in Champions League history.

Could this be the game that finally turns things around for the Reds? Liverpool, who have appeared in three of the last five Champions League finals, are 10th in the Premier League and 14 points behind the leaders. Arsenal after Sunday’s 3-2 defeat by the Gunners, manager Jurgen Klopp may decide to prioritize European play over domestic competition in the second half of 2022-23.

It would be a scary thought for the rest of the field if the Reds really did finally get back on their feet.

Man City, Real Madrid first in the clinch

Two of the title favorites booked a ticket to the second round despite not winning on Tuesday. Manchester Citywho finished second in the competition in 2021, won without Erling Holland (who was resting) or anyone else even scored a goal in Copenhagen. Roddy made an early shot that canceled the ball out with his hand in the build-up, and Riyad Mahrez saw his penalty kick. Most of the match “City” spent with 10 players Sergio Gomez received a red card in the first half.

Although it wasn’t their day, City didn’t let up either, earning a hard-earned point that was enough to guarantee them a place in the Round of 16. And while the draw did make for a perfect start for the Sky Blues in their Champions League campaign, which sees Pep Guardiola’s side still top of Group G with three points Borussia Dortmund and Seville also ended in a stalemate.

In Group F, defending champion Real Madrid were lucky not to lose Miner of Donetsk. Ukrainians are forced to play home games in Poland because of of Russia continuous invasion – led 1-0 in second-half stoppage time before Antonio RĂ¼diger headed home. The German defender paid the price.

Bavaria, Club Brugge and They attacked also in advance

Three more teams secured their place in the Round of 16 on Wednesday. Bayern raced into a 4-0 lead in Pilsen, largely sealing the deal, before the hosts hit back twice in the second half.

Club Brugge, one of the stories of the season, reached the second round for the first time in 10 attempts, becoming only the second Belgian side to do so. After a goalless draw on Wednesday Athletic Madrid, Bruges now top Group B ahead of former champions Porto and previous finalists Atleti and Bayer Leverkusen. Former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was man of the match for the visitors, scoring his fourth consecutive clean sheet.

Napoli may not repeat last week’s 6-1 rout Ajaxbut they still managed another comfortable win over the Dutch giants, taking an early 2-0 lead through the Mexico forward Chucky Lozano, a lead they would not relinquish en route to a 4-2 victory. Out of 32 applicants, They attacked and Bayern are the only two to win each of their four games so far.

The nightmare season continues Juventus

Looks like The Old Lady turned things around last week. A decisive win in Serie A was followed up by another win last Wednesday as Juve easily thrashed the Cinderella team Maccabi Haifa at home.

Tuesday’s second leg in Israel was the polar opposite. After a stunning weekend defeat at the hands of their Italian rivals MilanJuventus looked like a team in doubt in a 2-0 defeat that wasn’t as close as the scoreboard suggested.

Juve now have just three points from four competitions. Tuesday’s result was so shocking that Juventus president Andrea Agnelli had to publicly back coach Massimiliano Allegri.

Another difficult round awaits Juventus in the next match, which will take place on October 25 against Benfica. Even winning this may not be enough, not with a visit from Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and the rest Paris Saint-Germain the all-star team is closing in on the final Group H test.

One of North America’s leading soccer journalists, Doug McIntyre has covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at numerous FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Written by Doug McIntyre.

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