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Observations from Champions League Match Day 3

We’ve reached the midway point of the Champions League group stages and much is yet to be determined. So what did we learn from this week’s match ups?

Club Brugge v Borussia Dortmund - UEFA Champions League Group A Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund is for real

Lucien Favre’s men put on a masterclass against formidable opposition in Atletico Madrid. In their emphatic 4-0 win, the black and yellows put in a complete performance that was highlighted by a solid defensive effort and a relentless attack. Atletico Madrid is widely considered the stingiest defense in world football, while also boasting the attacking talent of Koke, Saul, Diego Costa, Thomas Lemar, and Antoine Griezmann.

Dortmund has come a long way from the team leaking goals last season and the additions of Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney can be credited with this defensive transformation. Favre’s commitment to the defensive end and counter attacking style of play has played to the attack’s strengths. Dortmund wore down Diego Simeone’s side and continued to punish their errors. This team is on fire right now and their confidence is on the rise.

Although Dortmund is currently playing above its level at the moment, while Bayern is finding their own, Der Klassiker is looking like it will truly be a classic.

Giants will fall

Both Tottenham and Paris St. Germain find themselves on the wrong end of their respective groups, neither have been convincing. PSG only just escaped their tie with Napoli and were largely ineffective against Liverpool. Although their front three is among the best in the world, their defensive frailties and absence of a strong holding midfielder have made life difficult for the only team in a top five league yet to drop points.

Thomas Tuchel is a genius tactician, but the transfer strategy of throwing money at the wall and hoping it sticks has not gone according to plan. PSG is facing an uphill battle, but Neymar, Cavani and Mbappe may have just enough to drag them out of the group.

Tottenham, on the other hand, has continued to under-perform and is facing an almost insurmountable challenge following a disappointing draw with PSV Eindhoven. Sitting in third place with only one point with their talent is nothing less than shocking. An inexplicable challenge from Hugo Lloris reduced Spurs to ten-men and PSV drew level shortly after. Harry Kane seems to be getting more fatigued by the day following his World Cup heroics, while depth remains an issue at most positions.

Although they have been scraping out results in the Premier League, their luck has not transferred to European competition following this last ditch draw and a heartbreaking loss to Internazionale on Match Day 1. Mauricio Pochettino is brilliant, but with the current squad depth and poor form in crunch time, Tottenham will continue to be pretty “Spursy” when trophies are on the line.

This competition is still up for grabs

Professional wins from Juventus and Barcelona over strong opposition, along with a less than impressive victory from Real Madrid and cakewalks for Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Manchester City has done little to help identify a favorite for the crown. A Messi-less Barcelona and a Juventus team who has struggled to make the leap are the pack leaders at the moment, but neither look unbeatable.

Tottenham and Inter pressured Barcelona throughout, while Manchester United were unlucky not to equalize at Old Trafford against the “Old Lady.” Ruling out a struggling Real Madrid at this point would be foolish, especially considering their propensity for winning ugly and adjustments that need to be made in a post-Ronaldo world.

As for the Premier League sides, Liverpool and City have done well to position themselves at the top of their groups, but neither has reached the heights of last year and both will be distracted by the Premier League title race with Chelsea. This should give Bayern reason for optimism. In terms of class, this is the deepest Champions League in years with a handful of viable contenders. If the Bavarian giants can get hot, and maybe reinforce the squad a bit in January, their is no reason to think they can’t take down any of the contenders on their day.

What are your thoughts on Match Day 3? Let us know in the comments!

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