Continuation and end of the fourth day of the Champions League group stage this Wednesday. After PSG the day before, it's RC Lens' turn to try to make France's colors shine internationally. The Sang et Or, second in group B with 5 points behind Arsenal (6), travel to meet PSV Eindhoven (9 p.m.). Several clubs aim to qualify (already) for the round of 16.
We regularly talk about the UEFA coefficient, and that of France is more in danger than ever. The French clubs are dragging their feet while those in the Netherlands are doing well. Last season, France secured its 5th place for the 2024-25 financial year, the one which will see the reform of the Champions League. This 5th place implies, for France, a third club automatically qualified for the C1.
But if we stay there for the current season, France will lose this 5th place to the Netherlands for the 2025-26 financial year. And will thus release this famous third folding seat for the Champions League. The match between Lens and PSV Eindhoven therefore has a double national challenge for the Northerners: winning as French and inflicting a defeat on the Dutch, and bringing a French club closer to qualifying for the round of 16 while keeping Eindhoven away from it, last in group B with 2 points.
Olivier Boscagli (25 years old, PSV Eindhoven): Victim of a serious right knee injury a year and a half ago, the 25-year-old former Nice player took nine months before returning to the field. This season, he is an indisputable starter in the defense of a club which has won its 11 Dutch championship matches. But in C1, PSV has its back against the wall. He needs to beat RC Lens in front of his home crowd to stay in the race for the round of 16. And thus shed light on Boscagli, ex-international hopefuls who entrusted us, in 2021, to “look at all the lists” of Didier Deschamps’ Blues, just in case.
Eduardo Camavinga (20 years old, Real Madrid): He started all three Real Madrid matches in the Champions League this season (3 wins), and should repeat against Braga this Wednesday (9 p.m.). Because Aurélien Tchouameni is injured and Jude Bellingham uncertain, but also because he remains, among the Merengue, a reliable and practical element. In his three C1 matches, he played one as a left back. He doesn't really like it, but Carlo Ancelotti considers him good enough to insist. Madrid President Florentino Pérez doesn't like it either, according to the digital media Relevo. Pérez likes Camavinga, who the day before extended his contract until 2029. Good news for the Blues.
Marcus Thuram (26 years old, Inter Milan): Without making any noise, Inter Milan are having an almost perfect season. The Italian club is leader of its championship with the best attack, and at the top of its group in the Champions League, tied with Real Sociedad. Marcus Thuram, 5 goals and 5 assists in 14 matches, is not innocent. The Frenchman, who has not missed a Blues rally since the 2022 World Cup, is a loyal lieutenant of his captain Lautaro Martinez (13 goals). Traveling to RB Salzburg on Wednesday (9 p.m.), Inter can already qualify for the round of 16.
They will also be out: William Saliba (Arsenal), Tanguy Ndombélé (Galatasaray), Ferland Mendy (Real Madrid), Dayot Upamecano, Kingsley Coman and Mathys Tel (Bayern Munich), Loïc Badé and Boubakary Soumaré (Sevilla FC), Raphaël Varane and Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
In Group A, Bayern will qualify for the round of 16 if they win against Galatasaray. Copenhagen, bottom of the table, will leave if they are beaten by Manchester United and Galatasaray win in Munich, which is unlikely. On the Group B side, Arsenal would only qualify in the event of a victory over Sevilla (9 p.m.) plus a Lens success at PSV Eindhoven, who would be de facto eliminated. The Sang et Or will have to wait until the next day whatever happens.
As for Group C, a draw would be enough for Real Madrid to validate their ticket to the 8th round. Union Berlin, still at zero points, is forced to win in Naples (6:45 p.m.) to stay alive. Almost identical scenario for Benfica in Group D: the Lisbon side, traveling to Real Sociedad (6:45 p.m.), would be out if they draw and Inter Milan do not lose in Salzburg (9 p.m.). Finally, the Nerazzurri will qualify with Real Sociedad if both teams win. Benfica and Salzburg would thus be eliminated.
Jude Bellingham is doubtful for the Portuguese host Braga, but a withdrawal would only postpone the opportunity to set the next record. The English midfielder can become the first player in the history of Real Madrid to score in his first 4 Champions League matches. A fact that is anything but trivial in the most successful club (14), and by far, in the biggest European competition.
SEE ALSO - Bellingham in the history books after its double against Barça-Real on October 28 (1-2)
Bellingham, 20, has been burning his retina since his arrival this summer from Dortmund for €103 million. Beyond his impact in the heart of the game, he discovered an extraordinary finishing ability for his position (13 goals in 14 matches). He has scored once against each opponent in C1 this season: Naples, Braga and Union Berlin.
To speak of a crisis in Union Berlin would be an understatement. Saturday against Frankfurt (0-3), the German club recorded its 12th defeat in a row in all competitions. If they were not unworthy, the Berliners bowed to Real Madrid (1-0), Braga (2-3) and Naples (0-1) in the Champions League. Union Berlin could become the first club across the Rhine to lose its first four matches in C1, a competition it is discovering. Getting a result in Naples would be quite an achievement.