With Arsenal and FC Porto losing their Champions League games this week, there are now no unbeaten teams left among those still alive in European (UEFA Cup or CL) competitions. Three teams (Chelsea, Man U, Barca) are unbeaten in champions league competition and several others have not lost in their domestic leagues (Arse, Liverpool, Porto, Benfica, Ajax, to name a few) but as far as I can tell everybody Soccer Source tracks for its Weekly Top 25 (which is supposed to be every club in the world).
There are several unbeaten teams from non “Big Four” leagues that do not play in Europe: Beitar Jerusalem, Wisla Krakow, Romania’s CFR Cluj, Partizan Belgrade and CSKA Sofia, who shouldn’t really count because they lost their UEFA Cup series to Toulouse on away goals, while not losing either game. Actually, Partizan Belgrade was forced to forfeit their UEFA Cup games with Mostar, which technically counts as a loss but I’m including them here because, well I’m a nice guy.
There are also teams from minnow leagues that are unbeaten: Olimpik Baku in Azerbaijan’s Yuksak Liga, Georgia’s FC Zestafoni and Moldova’s Sheriff Tiraspol, to name a few. I think there might also be teams in Andorra, Cyprus, Luxembourg and San Marino but I’m not going to go there (I’ll be the first to admit I have no life, but seriously, I need to establish limits somewhere).
Chelsea and AC Milan were the only teams to clinch advancement to the Round of 16 in Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League games. There were some other noteworthy results:
- Real Madrid was upset by Werder Bremen. The Spanish side could have sealed their own passage with a mere point, while Bremen was facing a “must win.”
- Speaking of “must wins,” Liverpool fulfilled that duty; their defeat of FC Porto was the Portuguese side’s first loss of the season in all competitions. Liverpool still need to win their final game at Marseille though. Failure to do so could even result in an ouster from all European competition as the Merseysiders would finish dead last in the group if Beskitas also win at Porto.
- Olympiakos continued their impressive form and only need to tie Bremen at home in the final matchday, Dec. 11, to advance.
- Freddy F.C., a.k.a. Benfica Lisbon, will not be advancing to the Round of 16 after only managing a 1-1 tie at home to AC Milan. They will play for a spot in the UEFA Cup in the final matchday when they face Shakhtar Donetsk. Should Benfica win, they also seal Celtic’s advancement. (The Glasgow side will only fail to advance if they lose to AC Milan at San Siro and Donetsk beats Benfica.)
- Valencia, which managed only a scoreless draw at home to Schalke yesterday, will not advance either.
- Despite losing by four goals to Chelsea at home, Rosenborg are very much in the driver’s seat, needing only one point from their final match day game at Schalke.
As for Milan and Chelsea, they join Inter Milan, AS Roma, Barcelona, Manchester United, Arsenal and Sevilla who had already advanced. So with the final matchday upon us, half of the 16 teams are known. All are big, filthy-rich clubs that were favored to advance at the outset, but the final matchday could add some “Cinderellas” (to borrow a U.S. sportscaster phrase): Besiktas, Fenerbahce, Rosenborg and Olympiakos certainly fit into that category, especially if they advance at the expense of Liverpool and Lazio and Valencia or Schalke. So there is still plenty to play for.