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LIVE, UCL – Chelsea vs. Barcelona; Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas

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Two can’t-miss matchups are on display as the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first legs continue on Tuesday afternoon.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores

Chelsea and Barcelona continue its terrific recently rivalry over the past two decades with Ernesto Valverde’s side traveling to Stamford Bridge to face Antonio Conte and co. At the same time, Bayern Munich hosts Turkish giant Besiktas at the Allianz Arena.

Lionel Messi, who has yet to score against Chelsea in eight games, will be looking to break his own five-game goal drought while also keep Barcelona’s Champions League hopes alive against one of his club’s toughest opponents. Messi will be playing up top alongside Luis Suarez, with both Paulinho and Sergio Busquets sitting deep behind them to keep Chelsea from posing too much of a threat on the counter attack.

For Chelsea, the Champions League remains the last trophy the club can theoretically win, and Conte has named a strong side, though without a recognizable No. 9, with Eden Hazard playing as a false nine.

Bayern Munich is looking to reach the Champions League semifinals for the seventh time in the last nine years, and they’re facing a side who’s in the knockout stage for the first time. Vagner Love leads the line for Besiktas with Ricardo Quaresma and Anderson Talisca looking to create behind. Former Real Madrid centerback Pepe starts on the backline, and will look to stop Robert Lewandowski.

Click on the link above to follow live commentary of the two UCL last 16 games, while we will have you covered for analysis and reaction from both games right here at Pro Soccer Talk.


Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 schedule

Chelsea vs. Barcelona – 2:45 p.m. ET
Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas – 2:45 p.m. ET

Every Premier League transfer deal in January

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Did your club get its moves over the line? Or were they all settled before the window moved to Wednesday?

[ MORE: JPW grades every PL club ]

Thanks to PremierLeague.com, we’ve got the full list of ins and outs from the most competitive top league in the world.

Arsenal

In
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) Undisclosed
Konstantinos Mavropanos (PAS Giannina) Undisclosed
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Man Utd) Swap

Out
Jeff-Reine Adelaide (Angers) Loan
Chuba Akpom (Sint-Truidense) Loan
Krystian Bielik (Walsall) Loan
Francis Coquelin (Valencia) Undisclosed
Mathieu Debuchy (Saint-Etienne) Undisclosed
Olivier Giroud (Chelsea) Undisclosed
Stephy Mavididi (Charlton Athletic) Loan
Marcus McGuane (Barcelona) Undisclosed
Tafari Moore (Wycombe Wanderers) Loan
Julio Pleguezuelo (Gimnastic de Tarragona) Loan
Alexis Sanchez (Man Utd) Swap
Ben Sheaf (Stevenage) Loan
Theo Walcott (Everton) Undisclosed

AFC Bournemouth

In
Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) Loan return

Out
Baily Cargill (Partick Thistle) Loan
Mihai Dobre (Rochdale) Loan
Lewis Grabban (Aston Villa) Loan
Shaun Hobson (Chester) Loan
Connor Mahoney (Barnsley) Loan
Sam Matthews (Eastleigh) Loan extension
Ollie Harfield (Boreham Wood) Loan
Aaron Ramsdale (Chesterfield) Loan
Ben Whitfield (Port Vale) Loan extension

Brighton & Hove Albion

In
Warren O’Hora (Bohemians) Undisclosed
Jurgen Locadia (PSV Eindhoven) Undisclosed
Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester) Loan

Out
Soufyan Ahannach (Sparta Rotterdam) Loan
David Ajiboye (Millwall) Loan
Jonah Ayunga (Poole Town) Loan
Charlie Ferguson (East Grinstead Town) Loan
Ben Hall (Notts County) Loan
Kazenga LuaLua (Sunderland) Free
Stefan Ljubicic (Bognor Regis Town) Loan
Jordan Maguire-Drew (Coventry City) Loan
Reece Meekums (Worthing) Loan extension
Jamie Murphy (Rangers) Loan
Mathias Normann (Molde) Loan extension
Rian O’Sullivan (Carshalton Athletic) Loan
Bailey Vose (Welling United) Loan

Burnley

In
Aaron Lennon (Everton) Undisclosed
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Spurs) Loan

Out
Dan Agyei (Blackpool) Loan
Tom Anderson (Doncaster Rovers) Loan
Jimmy Dunne (Accrington Stanley) Loan
Harry Flowers (Guiseley) Undisclosed
Josh Ginnelly (Tranmere Rovers) Loan
Luke Hendrie (Shrewsbury Town) Undisclosed
Alex Whitmore (Chesterfield) Undisclosed

Chelsea

In
Ross Barkley (Everton) Undisclosed
Olivier Giroud (Arsenal) Undisclosed
Emerson Palmieri (Roma) Undisclosed

Emerson, pictured with Chelsea director Marina Granovskaia (chelseafc.com)

Out
Michy Batshuayi (Borussia Dortmund) Loan
Jake Clarke-Salter (Sunderland) Loan
Jordan Houghton (Doncaster Rovers) Loan extension
Todd Kane (Oxford United) Loan
Kenedy (Newcastle) Loan
Charly Musonda Jr (Celtic) Loan
Baba Rahman (Schalke) Loan
Ike Ugbo (MK Dons) Loan

Crystal Palace

In
Jaroslaw Jach (Zaglebie Lubin) Undisclosed
Erdal Rakip (Benfica) Loan
Alexander Sørloth (Midtjylland) Undisclosed

Out
Keshi Anderson (Swindon Town) Undisclosed
Andre Coker (Maidstone United) Loan
Noor Husin (Notts County) Undisclosed
Sullay Kalkai (Charlton) Loan
Freddie Ladapo (Southend United) Undisclosed

Everton

In
Cenk Tosun (Besiktas) Undisclosed
Theo Walcott (Arsenal) Undisclosed

Out
Ross Barkley (Chelsea) Undisclosed
Harry Charsley (Bolton Wanderers) Loan
Louis Gray (Carlisle United) Loan
Gethin Jones (Fleetwood Town) Undisclosed
Aaron Lennon (Burnley) Undisclosed
Ademola Lookman (RB Leipzig) Loan
Boris Mathis (Northampton Town) Loan
Kevin Mirallas (Olympiacos) Loan
Sandro Ramirez (Sevilla) Loan
Antonee Robinson (Bolton Wanderers) Loan extension
Liam Walsh (Bristol City) Undisclosed

Huddersfield Town

In
Terence Kongolo (Monaco) Loan
Jack Payne (Oxford Utd) Loan recall
Alex Pritchard (Norwich City) Undisclosed

Out
Jack Boyle (Clyde) Loan
Dylan Cogill (Clyde) LoanFraser Horsfall (Kidderminster Harriers) Undisclosed
Danny Kane (Cork City) Undisclosed
Joe Lolley (Nottingham Forest) Undisclosed
Jack Payne (Blackburn Rovers) Loan
Ryan Schofield (AFC Telford) Loan
Tadhg Ryan (Released)
Cedwyn Scott (Dundee) Undisclosed

Leicester City

In
Fousseni Diabate (Gazalec Ajaccio) Undisclosed
Callum Wright (Blackburn Rovers) Undisclosed

Out
Andy King (Swansea City) Loan
Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow) Loan
Islam Slimani (Newcastle United) Loan
Raul Uche (Real Betis) Loan
Leonardo Ulloa (Leicester) Loan

Liverpool

In
Tony Gallacher (Falkirk)
Ryan Kent (Freiburg) Loan return
Virgil Van Dijk (Southampton) Undisclosed

(AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Out
Cameron Brannagan (Oxford United) Undisclosed
Philippe Coutinho (Barcelona) Undisclosed
Ovie Ejaria (Sunderland) Loan
Jon Flanagan (Bolton Wanderers) Loan
Marko Grujic (Cardiff City) Loan
Lloyd Jones (Luton Town) Undisclosed
Ryan Kent (Bristol City) Loan
Lazar Markovic (Anderlecht) Loan
Daniel Sturridge (West Brom) Loan
Matty Virtue (Notts County) Loan
Corey Whelan (Yeovil Town) Loan
Harry Wilson (Hull City) Loan

Manchester City

In
Jack Harrison (New York City) Undisclosed
Aymeric Laporte (Athletic Bilbao) Undisclosed

Out
Kean Bryan (Oldham Athletic) Loan
Isaac Buckley (Oxford United) Loan
Jacob Davenport (Burton Albion) Loan
Shay Facey (Northampton Town) Undisclosed
Jack Harrison (Middlesbrough) Loan
Marlos Moreno (Flamengo) Loan
Ashley Smith-Brown (Oxford United) Loan

Manchester United

In
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson (Leeds) Loan recall
Matej Kovar (FC Slovacko) Undisclosed
Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal) Swap
Matty Willock (Utrecht) Loan return

Out
James Wilson (Sheffield United) Loan
Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Arsenal) Swap
Alex Tuanzebe (Aston Villa) Loan
Matty Willock (St Johnstone) Loan
Charlie Scott (Hamilton Academical) Loan
Demi Mitchell (Hearts) Loan

Newcastle United

In
Martin Dubravka (Sparta Prague) Loan
Kenedy (Chelsea) Loan
Islam Slimani (Leicester City) Loan

@NUFC

Out
Rolando Aarons (Hellas Verona) Loan
Adam Armstrong (Blackburn Rovers) Loan
Dan Barlaser (Crewe Alexandra) Loan
Kyle Cameron (Queen of the South) Loan
Jack Colback (Nottingham Forest) Loan
Stuart Findlay (Kilmarnock) Loan extension
Lewis McNall (Gateshead) Loan
Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) Loan
Henri Saivet (Sivasspor) Loan
Islam Slimani (Leicester City) Loan
Ivan Toney (Scunthorpe United) Loan
Callum Williams (Gateshead) Loan
Freddie Woodman (Aberdeen) Loan

Southampton

In
Guido Carrillo (Monaco) Undisclosed

Out
Marcus Barnes (Yeovil Town) Loan
Ryan Seager (Yeovil) Loan
Matt Targett (Fulham) Loan
Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool) Undisclosed

Stoke City

In
Moritz Bauer (Rubin Kazan) Undisclosed
Moussa Niakate (Paris FC) Undisclosed
Badou Ndiaye (Galatasaray) EUR16million
Kostas Stafylidis (Augsburg) Loan

Out
Jake Dunwoody (Curzon Ashton) Loan
Julien Ngoy (Walsall) Loan
Harry Souttar (Ross County) Loan
Josh Tymon (MK Dons) Loan

Swansea City

In
Andre Ayew (West Ham) Undisclosed
Andy King (Leicester City) Loan
Jack Withers (Boston United) Undisclosed

Out
Ryan Blair (Falkirk) Loan
Jay Fulton (Wigan) Loan
Adam King (Mansfield) Loan
Oliver McBurnie (Barnsley) Loan
Roque Mesa (Sevilla) Loan
Tyler Reid (Newport County) Loan
Joe Rodon (Cheltenham Town) Loan
Josh Sheehan (Newport County) Free
Jack Withers (Boston United) Loan

Tottenham Hotspur

In
Lucas Moura (Paris Saint-Germain) Undisclosed

Paris Saint-Germain’s Lucas Moura  (Rick Osentoski/AP Images for International Champions Cup)

Out
Luke Amos (Stevenage) Loan
Cameron Carter-Vickers (Ipswich Town) Loan
Marcus Edwards (Norwich City) Loan
Ryan Loft (Exeter City) Loan
Georges-Kevin Nkoudou (Burnley) Loan
Anton Walkes (Portsmouth) Loan

Watford

In
Pontus Dahlberg (IFK Gothenburg) Undisclosed
Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona) Loan
Dodi Lukebakio (Charleroi) Undisclosed
Didier Ndong (Sunderland) Loan

Out
Pontus Dahlberg (IFK Gothenburg) Loan
Brice Dja Djedje (RC Lens) Loan
Michael Folivi (Boreham Wood) Loan
Alex Jakubiak (Falkirk) Loan
Brandon Mason (Dundee United) Loan
Costel Pantilimon (Nottingham Forest) Loan
Charlie Rowan (Accrington Stanley) Loan
Isaac Success (Malaga) Loan
Ben Watson Released
Randell Williams (Wycombe Wanderers) Loan
Mauro Zarate (Velez Sarsfield) Loan

West Bromwich Albion

In
Ali Gabr (Zamalek) Loan
Rekeem Harper (Blackburn) Loan return
Jonathan Leko (Bristol City) Loan return
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool) Loan

Out
Tahvon Campbell (Forest Green Rovers) Loan
Shaun Donnellan (Yeovil) Undisclosed
Kyle Edwards (Exeter City) Loan
Kyle Howkins (Port Vale) Loan
Jasko Keranovic (Kilmarnock) Loan
Max Melbourne (Ross County) Loan
Dara O'Shea (Hereford FC) Loan extension
Tyler Roberts (Leeds) Undisclosed
Kane Wilson (Exeter City) Loan extension

West Ham United

In
Joao Mario (Inter Milan) Loan
Reece Oxford (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Loan return

Out
Reece Burke (Bolton Wanderers) Loan
Moses Makasi (Plymouth Argyle) Loan
Reece Oxford (Borussia Moenchengladbach) Loan
Diafra Sakho (Rennes) Undisclosed
Martin Samuelsen (Burton Albion) Loan

Playback: Where do City rank among best-ever PL teams?

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RANKING THE CREME DE LA CREME

It is a question which is dominating the Premier League right now: is this Manchester City team the best in Premier League history?

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There is no doubt that even without winning the Premier League title this season (we are not even halfway in, folks) Pep Guardiola‘s men are set to be up there with the best teams the PL has ever seen after a record-breaking 16 consecutive wins and just generally breaking records like they’re going out of fashion.

They have plenty of competition though to be the best-ever in PL history, though, and they’ll likely need to go the entire PL season unbeaten if they are to be known as the best team ever assembled in England’s top-flight. There are plenty of clubs who have had fine squads (Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle) but to be among the PL’s best, you simply have to have won the trophy.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

 

Below we rank the top five teams in PL history, with this City side among them.


1. Arsenal (2003-04)


They won the Premier League title without losing (winning 26 games and drawing 12) “The Invincibles” have gone down in folklore for their incredible achievement. Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Robert Pires, Sol Campbell and Patrick Vieira were in their prime and they just didn’t look like losing. Arsene Wenger has the perfect mixture of passion and panache to make history and their incredible 49-game unbeaten run is unlikely to be surpassed, even by Man City. Apart from Arsenal, only Preston North End in the 1888-89 season have gone an entire campaign unbeaten. The only slight disappointment was that Arsenal didn’t win any other domestic trophies and lost in the Champions League last eight. That said, Henry scored 39 goals in all competitions and 30 in the PL to lead the Gunners to a feat that many believe will never be repeated.


2. Manchester City (2017-18)*if they win the title


If (and it’s still a big if despite their early season dominance) City win the title this season, given their 16-game winning run and attacking ability they will go down as the greatest team ever. It all depends on if they can go the entire season unbeaten but Guardiola is bringing soccer perfection to the PL. Yes, they’ve spent big to get there but the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United have also thrown plenty of cash at their squads and are nowhere near where City are right now. With Kevin De Bruyne, David Silva, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus in attack, this City side have so many attacking weapons but adding Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy in defense, plus Ederson in goal, has been a huge reason why they’ve blown the PL away. History is in the making for this City side, in more ways than one. They are totally dominating the Premier League.


3. Manchester United (1998-99)


It took the famous treble winning team until the final day of the Premier League season to win the league title, but their exploits in winning the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League made up for it. Sir Alex Ferguson (just Alex Ferguson back then, actually) rotated his team masterfully in the final months of the season to pull off the greatest achievement in British soccer history. This was vintage United. Peter Schmeichel in goal behind a back four of Neville, Stam, Johnsen and Irwin, while Paul Scholes, Roy Keane, David Beckham and Ryan Giggs were in midfield and Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole were up top. A perfect blend of youth and experience, skill and determination. This was a true “team first” effort with the likes of Ole Gunnar Solksjaer, Teddy Sheringham, Nicky Butt, Henning Berg, Phil Neville and Jesper Blomqvist all playing their parts. Fergie was knighted after their famous last-gasp win in Barcelona against Bayern Munich and although they only won the PL title by one point, their exploits in the FA Cup (where they beat second-place Arsenal in heroic fashion in the semifinal) and in Europe played a huge part in them not running away with the title.


4. Chelsea (2004-05)

Jose Mourinho won the Premier League title in his first two seasons in charge of Chelsea but his squad in 2004-05, which sealed a first league title in 50 years, was the best. Chelsea simply tore the Premier League apart. Didier Drogba led the line as Frank Lampard charged forward from midfield to be the top scorer, while Arjen Robben was on the wing and Claude Makele protected the back four with Ricardo Carvalho and John Terry leading from the back as a young Petr Cech excelled in goal. Chelsea had everything and lost just one game all season long on their way to reaching 95 points, which is still a record points total for the Premier League champions. Defensively they were incredible as they set PL records for the least goals conceded (15), most shutouts (25) and fewest away goals conceded in a season (9). Mourinho, fresh from his Champions League and treble success at FC Porto, proved he was “The Special One” and also won the League Cup as well as losing in the UCL semifinals to Liverpool. Chelsea have won the title four times since 2004-05 but the squad they had over 12 years ago was the finest the west London club has ever seen.


5. Manchester United (2007-08)

Yep, they had to have at least two teams in the top five. With 13 Premier League titles under their belt, they gained more points in their title wins either side of the 2007-08 campaign, but this was arguably their most impressive PL success. Cristiano Ronaldo led United’s charge as the Portuguese superstar scored 42 goals in all competitions to help them win the Premier League and UEFA Champions League. Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez were Ronaldo’s partners in crime as the trio scored 79 goals between them in all competitions. Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Michael Carrick were rotated expertly in midfield by Fergie and at the back Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Edwin van der Sar were formidable. After edging past Chelsea and Arsenal to the PL title, Fergie led United to UCL glory in Moscow against Chelsea as they won on penalty kicks. The trio of Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo were appointment viewing and United were top of the table from March and never gave up their perch with Chelsea and Arsenal breathing down their necks.


MANAGERIAL MERRY-GO-ROUND IN FINE FETTLE

With familiar faces returning to the PL in droves over the past few months, most of them are doing rather well with their respective new clubs.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Sam Allardyce has won four from five with Everton who are now dreaming of Europe. Roy Hodgson is unbeaten in seven with Palace and has them out of the bottom three after two wins on the spin. David Moyes has won two of his last three at West Ham United and has turned them into a tough team to beat. Alan Pardew is slowly turning things around at West Brom.

There were plenty of moans and groans when these experienced coaches who have been on the merry-go-round a few more times than they care to mention were appointed, but they’re proving they can get the job done.

Allardyce is on his seventh PL club. Hodgson and Pardew both at their fifth. Moyes on his fourth.

The initial bump of having a new manager has led Everton and West Ham out of trouble, and Hodgson is starting to turn things around at Palace after inheriting a real mess from Frank De Boer.

Pardew, another old hand who is back in the PL, will be hoping it is his time to shine next. His West Brom side drew away at Liverpool and although they still look goal-shy, he has made them more stubborn to break down.

All four newbies have settled in well and you can expect to see plenty more familiar faces arrive if the likes of Stoke City, Southampton and Swansea continue to struggle.


LET THE GAMES CONTINUE

This is it. Primetime has arrived.

The holiday season is here and the Premier League is in full flow with 40 games coming up over 11 days from this Friday. Like March Madness, having NFL games on Thanksgiving and the NBA’s Christmas Day games, PL action dominates the holidays.

Bring. It. On.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]   

Below is the schedule in full for Boxing Day, the New Year’s Day games and more.

At this time of the year we are full of festive cheer but in the Premier League, this deluge of games can make or break a campaign.

Think about that when you’re tucking into your festive feasts while Romelu Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard limber up and prepare themselves for yet another game.


Premier League Playback comes out every week as PST’s Lead Writer and Editor takes an alternative look at all the action from the weekend. Read the full archive, here

WATCH LIVE: U.S. vs. England in U-17 World Cup quarters

AP Photo/Tsering Topgyal
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The United States are three wins from the U-17 World Cup title, and look to beat traditional power to set up a semifinal against another (Watch live at 10:30 a.m. ET online via Telemundo En Vivo).

England is on the docket Saturday in Margao, India, and the winner gets the winner of Germany and Brazil. Those two play Sunday in Kolkata.

[ WATCH LIVE: U.S. U-17s vs. England ]

The Americans are widely considered the best U-17 group to come through the ranks, especially in attack, and have a chance to make a big statement against an England side with a bevy of Premier League Academy stars, heavily drawn from Chelsea and Man City.

LINEUPS

USMNT: Garces (Atlanta United), Gloster (New York Red Bulls), Durkin (DC United), Booth (Real Salt Lake), Watts (Portland Timbers), Sands (New York City FC), Ferri (Solar Chelsea SC), Carleton (Atlanta United), Akinola (Toronto FC), Weah (PSG), Sargent (c, Werder Bremen)

England: Anderson (Man City), Sessegnon (Fulham), Latibeaudiere (c, Man City), Guehi (Chelsea), Panzo (Chelsea), McEachran (Chelsea), Oakley-Boothe (Tottenham), Foden (Man City), Gibbs-White (Wolverhampton), Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Brewster (Liverpool).

Surprises, disappointments halfway through Champions League group stage

AP Photo/Dave Thompson
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Clubs have met each of their group mates once, giving us an imperfect but workable sample size for the 2017-18 UEFA Champions League group stage.

Five groups have a side boasting a 3-0 record, while four clubs have yet to seize a single point.

[ CHAMPS LEAGUE: Tuesday | Weds. ]

Some of the strugglers, like 0-1-2 Maribor and 0-1-2 APOEL, are not surprises. And it’s no shock to see Manchester United at perfect 3-0 given its draw.

Others? Well, that’s not the case.

Status down 

While Manchester United is a perfect 3-0 in Group A, raise your hand if you figured Benfica would have just one goal and zero points through three matches. Benfica’s also played two of its three home ties, making the knockout rounds a dream.

Atletico Madrid has found the UEFA Champions League Final in two of the last four seasons, but finds itself with work to do moving forward. Atleti’s Wednesday draw at Qarabag leaves it three points behind Roma and five back of leaders Chelsea. Diego Simeone’s men still host Roma and Qarabag, so points are out there.

Serie A play has been gorgeous for Napoli, who has failed to bring that momentum to Group F. It’s worth noting that a missed penalty by red-hot Dries Mertens could’ve earned the Neapolitans a point at Man City on Tuesday, but as it stands Napoli is three points back of Shakhtar and could be six back before the Ukrainians visit on Nov. 21.

It turns out you can’t sell everyone and expect the youth to come through shining. Monaco is at the bottom of a very winnable group, having lost at home to Porto and Besiktas. Still just three points behind RB Leipzig, they’ll need to win at Monaco and/or Besiktas to have any hope of the knockout rounds.

Borussia Dortmund got a rough deal from officials when it visited Wembley Stadium, but losses to Spurs and Real Madrid can happen in a group stage. Tuesday’s draw at APOEL Nicosia, however, is close to a backbreaker.

(Photo by Tom Dulat/Getty Images).

Status up

Spurs draw at Real Madrid may have been aided by a huge performance from Hugo Lloris, but goalkeepers — as you know — are actual components of a team. This is in fact a group of death, but the North Londoners are holding a scythe. If Mauricio Pochettino can lead a home win over Real Madrid at a raucous Wembley on All Saints Day, well, look out!

Cenk Tosun has gone from sleepy transfer target to the tip of many gossipers’ tongues, as Besiktas is a perfect 3-0 including wins at Monaco and Porto. Anderson Talisca and… wait for it… Ryan Babel (!!) have also starred for the Turkish powers who will almost certainly see the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: JPW sits down with Ederson ]

Pep Guardiola‘s done this Champions League dance, you know, and Manchester City has weathered all storms. That includes conceded two penalties — one was saved by Ederson — as a down performance versus Napoli still ended with a home win. If City can win at the Stadio San Paolo on Nov. 1, Pep can sleepwalk into the final two matches (though that’s not his style).

Roma has a classy draw at Chelsea and has gathered five points including four away from home. Mimic that mark and i Lupi will be a challenge in the knockout rounds.

Neymar was best pals with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez last season at Barcelona, but having a less-than-perfect relationship with Edinson Cavani hasn’t hurt a thing in Paris. Paris Saint-Germain is for real, scoring 12 times and yet to concede in wins over Bayern Munich, Celtic, and Anderlecht.

Grey area

Liverpool leads its group and advancing is really the only goal, but there’s something off-putting about the home draw against Sevilla. The 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow looks better now that the Russians hammered Sevilla 5-1, but a return visit from Maribor next should help the Reds buttress their stock.

Be careful how finely you analyze a club as accomplished as two-time reigning champs Real Madrid, but Cristiano Ronaldo’s men don’t look so hot. Still well-positioned to move on, keep a close eye on how they look at Wembley in a few weeks.

Holding pattern

Chelsea‘s 3-3 draw versus Roma today was its first real stumble of the UCL, but there shouldn’t be too many alarm bells considering their injury problems and Roma’s desperation. Consider their status even, especially given their clever win at Atletico Madrid.

Jose Mourinho is doing a fine job with Manchester United, but it’s really hard to praise the club too much for doing what’s expected in a glorified Europa League group. Clearly Sir Alex Ferguson was involved in the icing some of the draw balls again…