Thrilling Conclusion to the Champions League Group Stage

The Champions League group stage spent most of its time getting maligned. Some of that was in bad faith from the biggest clubs seeking to mold the competition according to their whims. But their main argument—that it lacked drama or suspense—held a lot of water. For most part, the top clubs in Pot 1 would stroll through into the knockout stages, still having to play matches in backwaters (to them) in places like Denmark or Belgium. The group stage may be buying the farm now, but it went down reminding everyone what it was capable of and what we’ll miss. Group F provided the most excitement, with PSG, AC Milan and Newcastle all vying for the second qualification spot. Every goal would reshuffle who was lined up for what. Dortmund took the lead, but PSG equalized in an attempt to secure their spot. Newcastle were winning, PSG were headed to the Europa League, and Milan were out but a late goal from Christian Pulisic shifted the standings once again. This kind of excitement will all go away next year when the tournament expands, possibly losing the back-and-forth drama. We’ve lost something to cater to the biggest clubs’ voracious appetites. At least we got one last reminder of what we had.