Champions League: Rank great group games with format set to change from next season

11 December 2023 0 By Total Football News
Manchester City's Julian Alvarez celebrates scoring the winner against RB Leipzig in the Champions League group stage game at Etihad StadiumHolders Manchester City go into the final round of the 2023-24 group stage with a 100% winning record

This week will mark the end of the Champions League group stages as we know them.

From next season the competition will adopt a Swiss league format, with all of the 36 sides involved in one group and table.

Each side will play eight games, instead of the current six, and there will be a new knockout play-off round introduced between the league stage and last 16.

We've trawled through the archives and picked out some of the great group games from years gone by.

Don't forget to rank yours at the bottom and ask your friends to do the same.

Galatasaray 3-3 Man Utd, 2023

Manchester United's Andre Onana looks dejected after their draw at Galatasaray in the Champions League group stageManchester United goalkeeper Andre Onana made two costly mistakes in a 3-3 draw with Galatasaray in the Champions League group stage last month

Most great games have mistakes in, don't they?

That was certainly the case in this game with Red Devils summer signing Andre Onana twice letting free-kicks in from Hakim Ziyech when he should have perhaps done better.

United had raced into a two-goal lead, including a thunderbolt from Bruno Fernandes, but ended up having to settle for a point in a classic match they had led 3-1.

Marseille 1-2 Tottenham, 2022

Tottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg celebrates scoring with Harry Kane against Marseille in the 2022 Champions League group stageTottenham's Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (right) celebrates scoring with Harry Kane against Marseille in the 2022 Champions League group stage

Tottenham are never far from drama in the Champions League.

How about a 95th-minute winner to seal your place in the knockout stages?

Spurs went behind against their French hosts and, if the scoreline had stayed that way, they were destined to drop to third in their group and as a consequence Europa League beckoned.

But Clement Lenglet equalised and, with Marseille piling on the pressure as they needed to win to progress, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg struck a late winner to confirm Spurs as group winners.

Spurs' position in the group had changed six times over the course of the match, and it was one of the great evenings of ebbs and flows.

Tottenham 2-7 Bayern Munich, 2019

Bayern Munich's Serge Gnabry celebrates scoring against Tottenham in the 2019 Champions League group stageBayern Munich's Serge Gnabry celebrates scoring as Spurs' shipped seven goals in their 2019 Champions League group-stage encounter

It was a disastrous night for Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino as his side capitulated at home to the eventual German Bundesliga champions. He was sacked less than seven weeks later.

Spurs actually took the lead through Son Heung-min, but Bayern scored five unanswered goals.

Harry Kane scored from the penalty spot to reduce the arrears, but Serge Gnabry, formerly of Arsenal, then scored his third and fourth goals on an evening to savour for the visitors.

Borussia Dortmund 8-4 Legia Warsaw, 2016

Borussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa scores against Legia Warsaw in the 2016 Champions League group stagesBorussia Dortmund's Shinji Kagawa scores in their 12-goal thriller with Legia Warsaw in 2016

This is only the game in Champions League history to have seen 12 goals.

Legia Warsaw took the lead in the 10th minute, before four goals in seven minutes, including two for Shinji Kagawa, made it 3-2 to Dortmund. There were two more before the break as the hosts established a 5-2 lead.

Both sides scored again before the hour mark, and then there were three goals in the final 10 minutes to cap a night packed with action.

Liverpool 8-0 Besiktas, 2007

Liverpool's Yossi Benayoun scores against Besiktas in the 2007 Champions League group stageLiverpool's Yossi Benayoun scores against Besiktas on a momentous night at Anfield

Another famous night at Anfield.

There have only been two eight-goal winning margins in the Champions League, but this was the first time it had happened.

Yossi Benayoun scored a hat-trick, while Peter Crouch and Ryan Babel both scored twice, with Steven Gerrard also on the scoresheet.

Liverpool 3-1 Olympiakos, 2004

Liverpool's Steven Gerrard celebrates scoring against Olympiakos in the 2004 Champions League group stageSteven Gerrard celebrates scoring for Liverpool against Olympiakos in 2004

Liverpool had gone into the game three points behind the Greek side and needing to win by two clear goals to have a better head-to-head record and qualify for the knockout stages.

Rivaldo put the visitors ahead at half-time before Florent Sinama Pongolle and Neil Mellor both scored to put the home side in the ascendancy.

With the game in the balance up stepped club legend Gerrard to score a stunning late goal to put his side through.

The rest, as they say, is history with the Reds famously going on to win the trophy, beating AC Milan on penalties in the final.

Inter Milan 1-5 Arsenal, 2003

Arsenal's Thierry Henry celebrates scoring against Inter Milan in the 2003 Champions League group stageArsenal striker Thierry Henry was on target as the Gunners put five past Inter Milan at the San Siro in 2003

Arsenal may have gone on to be Premier League 'Invincibles' in the 2003-04 season, but their Champions League campaign was less plain-sailing.

A 3-0 defeat by Inter Milan and a 2-1 reverse against Dynamo Kyiv, plus a goalless draw against Lokomotiv Moscow, had left Arsene Wenger's side bottom of their group after four games.

However, up stepped Thierry Henry, scoring twice, alongside Freddie Ljungberg, Edu and Robert Pires to ensure the Gunners left the San Siro with a famous win.

A victory in their final group game against Lokomotiv Moscow was enough for the Gunners to top their group and progress to the last 16.

Monaco 8-3 Deportivo, 2003

Monaco produced a scintillating attacking display at Stade Louis II to put eight goals past Deportivo La Coruna.

It took 11 minutes for Monaco to surge into a 2-0 lead through Jerome Rothen and Ludovic Giuly.

Croatian striker Dado Prso scored two of his four goals to double the lead, before Diego Tristan and Lionel Scaloni both scored to reduce the Spaniards' arrears.

Prso was on target again to make it 5-2, while Jaroslav Plasil scored number six with Prso made it four for a memorable night.

Tristan got his second of the match and Deportivo's third before Edouard Cisse rounded off the scoring.

Despite this thrashing, Deportivo would go on to reach the semi-finals while Monaco went one better and got to the final where they lost to Jose Mourinho's Porto.

Hamburg 4-4 Juventus, 2000

Filippo Inzaghi of Juventus scores a penalty against Hamburg in a group-stage game in the 2000 Champions LeagueFilippo Inzaghi of Juventus scores from the penalty spot against Hamburg in a eight-goal thriller

This was the first 4-4 draw in the Champions League.

Juventus took an early lead and, after Hamburg equalised soon after, Filippo Inzaghi scored twice to put the Italian side in the driving seat.

But Hamburg scored three goals without reply, including goalkeeper Hans-Jorg Butt pulling them level from the penalty spot, to turn the contest on its head for a 4-3 lead.

However, Inzaghi wasn't done there and completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot to seal the draw.

Man Utd 3-3 Barcelona, 1998

Ryan Giggs on the ball for Manchester UnitedRyan Giggs - wearing Manchester United's away kit despite the game being at Old Trafford - scored the opener in their 3-3 draw against Barcelona

While Manchester United's 1998-99 season famously ended in Barcelona with their comeback win over Bayern Munich to complete the Treble, they actually faced the Spanish giants in the first match of their Champions League group campaign.

Having beaten Polish side LKS Lodz in a qualifier, they hosted Barca in their opening group match and it was a classic.

The Red Devils led 2-0 and then 3-2 on the night - their third goal a trademark David Beckham free-kick - but the visitors rallied to rescue a 3-3 draw.

The return game didn't disappoint - six more goals and nothing between the sides, with Brazil legend Rivaldo scoring twice for Barca, and Dwight Yorke doing likewise for United.

Barcelona 0-4 Dynamo Kyiv, 1997

The Nou Camp is famous for Champions League nights, but this one saw the Catalan side humbled by the Ukrainians.

Kyiv took the lead inside the opening 10 minutes through a 21-year-old Andriy Shevchenko.

The Ukraine striker then doubled his side's lead in the 32nd minute before completing a first-half hat-trick just before the break.

Serhiy Rebrov made it four late on as the likes of Rivaldo were powerless to stop the dominant Kyiv.

Great Champions League group games

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