Liga BBVA continues to hold its own in European football’s premier competition, the UEFA Champions League. Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona and Club Atlético de Madrid all qualified for the knockout stages of the competition as winners of their groups, and eagerly await Monday’s draw to find out who their opponents will be.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side only gave away a draw in their six Group B fixtures, gaining 16 points and scoring 20 goals in the process. Only Juventus, on their own pitch, could stop the Whites, whose frontline is lead by the frightening trio of Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, from winning. It was the Portuguese forward who was the group stage’s leading goal scorer with nine, a new competition record.
One of the Madrid sides who made a stunning return to the Champions League was Atlético, who under the guise of Diego Simeone won five and drew one of their Group G fixtures, seeing off FC Zenit and FC Porto in the process. It was the firs time the Red and Whites had qualified for the Champions League since 2009/10, when they were eliminated in the group stages, but went on to win the UEFA Europa League later that season.
For their part, FC Barcelona, with Neymar, Messi and co. took top spot in a group that contained four European Champions. The Catalan side took on AFC Ajax, Celtic and AC Milan in Group H, winning four, drawing one and losing one of their six matches. In their final group game Gerardo Martino’s side achieved the figure of 1,005 goals in international competitions.
Of the five big leagues in Europe, Liga BBVA is one of the competitions with most teams represented in the Champions League knockout stage with three. Italy’s Serie A and Ligue 1 of France only have one representative in the last 16. Also, the three Spanish sides who qualified did so as group winners, something no other country managed to achieve.