Champions League - five things we learnt from this week's fixtures

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This year's Champions League season looks to be one of the most exciting in recent memory. Arsenal have lost to Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb, Bayern Munich are thrashing everyone again and possibly most surprising of all, the only side with a 100% record are Zenit St. Petersburg. 

After another intriguing set of fixtures, we've learnt a few things about some of the sides left in the competition.

Barcelona are the team to beat

As if thrashing Real Madrid 4-0 at the Bernabeu wasn't enough to strike fear into the rest of Europe, Barcelona promptly dismantled AS Roma 6-1 on Wednesday night. If you think that Roma are a weak side, think again. They're many people's favourites to win Serie A this season - the result at the Camp Nou signifies the difference in quality between the two leagues at the moment.


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With Lionel Messi back to full fitness, Barca look at their imperious best. Opponents won't be wondering if they'll lose, it's how many they'll lose by.

English clubs are still some way behind

We're going into the final round of fixtures in the group stage and Manchester City are the only English side to have already qualified, doing so in an unconvincing manner. Manchester United realistically need to win at Wolfsburg to progress, likewise with Arsenal against Olympiakos. Both clubs will be disappointed considering the relatively easy groups they had been drawn in.

Chelsea look favourites to progress from their group, however, after home defeats to Crystal Palace, Liverpool and Southampton, the Blues won't be confident of defeating Porto at Stamford Bridge. In what could be a disastrous couple of days for English football, all three sides from the Premier League may crash out.

There are some dark horses

Zenit St Petersburg comfortably defeated Valencia 2-0 on Wednesday night to maintain their flawless record in this season's competition. Despite their remarkable form, the Russian outfit are still the team second placed sides would want to draw in the knockout round. But are they to be underestimated?

Zenit are a strong side under Andre Villas-Boas and will feel confident of beating most outfits. Similarly to Zenit, Benfica have enjoyed an usually trouble free campaign, securing qualification with a game to go. Should they avoid defeat to Atletico Madrid on the final match day, they will top their group and go into the knockout rounds with nothing to lose.

There are no longer any weak sides

If you were to rewind time around five or six years, you would find a weak side in nearly all of the Champions League groups. This is no longer evident in today's game. Teams like BATE Borisov, Dinamo Zagreb and FC Astana have all caused shocks against bigger sides - BATE even stand a chance of progressing should results go their way.

The eastern European countries are often left behind when it comes down to the latter stages, but judging by the improvement rate, there could be a couple of sides from that region that reach the quarter finals in a few season's time.

Real Madrid look vulnerable

At 4-0 against Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid looked to be sauntering to another easy win against a lesser opponent. As we all know though, it didn't quite go to plan. Madrid still won the game, but not without giving their best efforts to throw the lead away - Shakhtar managed to reduce the score to 4-3 come full time.

Madrid will top their group, but recent performances have taken away the fear factor that once ruled the Bernabeu. Whoever draws the Spanish giants in the knockout round will fancy their chances of beating them.

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Manchester City
Lionel Messi
Real Madrid
UEFA Champions League
Cristiano Ronaldo
Manchester United

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