The Bundesliga claimed a clean sweep in the group stages of the UEFA Champions League and Europa League in 2020/21 as all six clubs - Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, RB Leipzig, Borussia Mönchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim - progressed to the knockout stages of the respective competitions.
bundesliga.com looks at how they did it and what to look out for once European football returns in the new year…
Champions League Group A
First place on 16 points: W5, D1; F18, A5
The European champions continued their excellent continental form again in 2020/21 and completed the Champions League group stage undefeated for the third straight year. Just a few months after beating Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in Lisbon to lift their sixth European Cup, Bayern opened their defence with a 4-0 thumping of Atletico Madrid at the Allianz Arena. Further victories away at Lokomotiv Moscow (2-1) and against Red Bull Salzburg (6-2 A, 3-1 H) followed as Hansi Flick's side secured top spot with two games to spare. A 1-1 draw in Madrid with a heavily rotated side is the only time in 17 Champions League fixtures that Bayern have failed to win, with their run of 15 consecutive victories a new competition record. The Bundesliga champions then ended the group with a 2-0 triumph at home to Lokomotiv. Their 18 goals scored is also the most in the competition.
All eyes coming into the season were quite rightly on Robert Lewandowski after his personal treble in 2019/20 of being top scorer in the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and Champions League - and Bayern's 11 different goalscorers is the most in the competition - but the main man in Munich this European campaign has been Kingsley Coman. It was his header against his boyhood club won it in Lisbon in August, the Frenchman is now the first-choice winger under Flick and produced a combined five goals and assists in his four group appearances. He scored two and set up one in the opening win over Atletico alone. Still only 24, we look to finally be seeing the best of Coman the Bavarian.
One to watch
An ankle injury in October meant we saw just 76 minutes of Alphonso Davies during the group stage. The Canadian was the revelation of last season, in the Bundesliga and Champions League, starting every game in Europe after Flick took over in November and really bursting onto the international stage at Stamford Bridge as he tore apart the Chelsea defence in the 3-0 first-leg win in the round of 16. By the time this year's knockout stage begins in February, he should be back to full fitness and ready to do it all over again.
The draw for the last 16 is seeded and teams cannot face an opponent from their own country or from their original group. As one of the eight seeded teams after topping their section, Bayern will face either Porto, Atalanta, Sevilla, Lazio or Barcelona, and will play the second leg at home.
Champions League Group F
First place on 13 points: W4, D1, L1; F12, A5
Dortmund topped their Champions League group for the sixth time in their last eight participations, finishing three points clear of Lazio in second. Despite opening the campaign with a 3-1 defeat in Rome, BVB then beat Zenit Saint-Petersburg 2-0 at the Signal Iduna Park, Club Brugge 3-0 home and away before a 1-1 draw with Lazio secured qualification with a game to spare. A 2-1 win in Russia on the final matchday confirmed top spot and a seeded position in the draw.
One of four players tied on six goals at the top of the scoring chart after the group stage, Erling Haaland struck in each of the first four games before injury saw him ruled out of the final two. During those appearances he had the most shots on target of any player in the competition (11), meaning over half hit the back of the net. In total the Norwegian has 16 goals in 12 Champions League appearances and will be a key man for them going into the knockout stage.
Watch: Goal-hungry Haaland smashing records
One to watch
One to watch for the next decade and beyond, not just the knockout rounds, Youssoufa Moukoko broke the record for the youngest player Champions League history when he came on at Zenit just 18 days after turning 16. He'd earned that title in the Bundesliga on the day after his birthday. Although yet to score in 105 minutes of senior football, his record at youth level, including 137 goals across only 81 games for Dortmund's U17s and U19s, is just astonishing. After being allowed to settle in at this level, it'll only be a matter of time before the youngster makes further history.
Top spot in Group F means five tantalising possible opponents in the last 16 for Lucien Favre's men: Atletico Madrid, Porto, Atalanta, Sevilla and Barcelona. BVB will also be at home for the second leg.
Champions League Group H
Second place on 12 points: W4, L2; F11, A12
Leipzig were thrown into one of this year's 'groups of death' alongside French champions and last season's beaten finalists Paris Saint-Germain, three-time European champions Manchester United and Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir. Ultimately, Julian Nagelsmann's side only missed out on top spot on away goals in their head-to-head record with PSG. An opening 2-0 win to Basaksehir was followed by a 5-0 defeat in Manchester that, while chastening didn't at all reflect how the game went. They bounced back by beating the Parisians 2-1 at home before losing by a single goal from a Neymar penalty in the French capital. A dramatic 4-3 win in Istanbul kept their fate in their own hands for the final game at home to United, who RB beat 3-2 to avenge that earlier loss by knocking the English side out and into the Europa League.
The departure of Timo Werner last season left many asking where Leipzig would get their goals from. Well, the answer so far is from left-back and the devilishly good Angelino. The Manchester City-owned full-back is RB's leading scorer with four goals after 10 Bundesliga matchdays and another three in Europe. The most recent of those came inside just two minutes against United - following his brace in the 2-0 win over Basaksehir - before providing the assist for Amadou Haidara to double up on 13 minutes. The 23-year-old ended the group stage with three goals and assists apiece, having had just five attempts on target. Already in the 2019/20 UEFA Squad of the Season, it's been a heavenly year for the little angel.
Watch: Angelino - Analysis of Leipzig's high-flying wing-back
One to watch
Twenty-one-year-old Justin Kluivert may not yet have a Champions League winner's medal like his father Patrick, but he can boast about having scored against Manchester United, which Kluivert Sr. failed to do in three appearances. It was ultimately his goal that sent Leipzig through to the knockout stage after the Red Devils attempted a late comeback at the Red Bull Arena. The winger featured in all six group games and, having earlier opened his Leipzig account against Bayern in the league, has shown a fondness of the big occasion and could well be more prominent come the knockout stage.
Narrowly missing out on top spot in Group H means Leipzig won't be seeded for the last 16 and will play the first leg at home. And they're guaranteed a big tie with their possible opponents coming from either Real Madrid, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea or Juventus.
Champions League Group B
Second place on 8 points: W2, D2, L2; F16, A9
Another Bundesliga team placed in a group of death, but Gladbach have also advanced to the knockout stage after a nerve-jangling final day. That being said, it could've been a lot smoother if not for conceding late goals in 2-2 draws with Inter Milan and Real Madrid in the first two games. The Foals than smashed Shakhtar Donetsk 6-0 and 4-0 for their biggest away and home victories ever in the Champions League respectively. A 3-2 defeat to Inter meant Marco Rose's side went to Madrid either needing a point or Inter and Shakhtar to draw. In the end, the good news came through from Milan and, despite a 2-0 defeat, Gladbach booked their place in the knockout stage for the first time.
Although Alassane Plea ended the group stage with five goals and three assists, Gladbach's flag carrier in attack was Marcus Thuram. He gave Real the run-around on Matchday 2 with a brace that saw him double his father Lilian's career total in the Champions League in a single game. He was directly involved in a goal in each of Borussia's first five games of the group stage, either scoring, assisting or winning penalties.
One to watch
Gladbach have a wonderful array of ball-playing midfielders in Florian Neuhaus, Christoph Kramer and Denis Zakaria, but it's the former who has become the standout man in the centre of the park. The 23-year-old recently earned his first three senior Germany caps, scoring on his debut against Turkey, and is seen as a potential long-term successor to Toni Kroos, with a tidy pass completion rate of 84 per cent and covering more distance on average than his Madrid counterpart in the Champions League this season. A player who will only improve with more time at this level.
Missing out on first place in Group B ultimately means Gladbach will face an exciting last-16 tie with either Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Juventus or Paris Saint-Germain, playing the first leg at Borussia-Park.
Europa League Group B
First place on 15 points: W5, L1; F21, A8
While Leverkusen may have suffered their only competitive loss of the season in the second group game away at Slavia Prague (1-0), they were ultimately comprehensive winners of Group B. Peter Bosz's side beat Nice 6-2 (H) and 3-2 (A) either side of a double over Hapoel Beer Sheva (4-2 A, 4-1 H) before thumping Slavia 4-0 on the final matchday at the BayArena in what was a straight shootout for top spot. Die Werkself progress as the competition's top scorers on 21 goals, which is a record for a Bundesliga club in the Europa League group stage.
Bosz has spoken this season of how impressed he's been by Leon Bailey, and the Jamaican has shown that throughout the Europa League campaign with an excellent return of five goals and two assists coming an at an average of one every 55 minutes of playing time. All five were also set up by different players, showing Bayer's strength in depth. A brace in Israel was ultimately the difference against Beer Sheva, while his two first-half goals against Slavia put Leverkusen on course for first place and saw him voted UEFA's Player of the Week for Matchday 6.
One to watch
Florian Wirtz clearly has a great future ahead of him. Succeeding Kai Havertz as Leverkusen's youngest-ever player, the 17-year-old is already a first-team regular and has started the majority of games this season. He became the club's youngest Europa League scorer when he got the final goal in the 6-2 thumping of Nice and then scored and assisted away at Beer Sheva. Anyone familiar with Leverkusen's history of bringing through young players knows Wirtz is one to watch.
After topping Group B, Leverkusen are seeded for the last-32 draw and will play the second leg at home. They can face all of the 16 unseeded teams except group rivals Slavia Prague. They are: Royal Antwerp, Benfica, Braga, Red Star Belgrade, Dynamo Kyiv, Granada, Krasnodar, Lille, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Molde, Olympiacos, Real Sociedad, Red Bull Salzburg, Wolfsberg and Young Boys. The two legs will be played on Thursday 18 and 25 February 2021.
Europa League Group L
First place on 16 points: W5, D1; F17, A2
Hoffenheim's second Europa League campaign turned out to be the second-best group stage ever by a German club, with only Eintracht Frankfurt in 2018/19 (18) finishing with more points than TSG's 16. That total was also double what they achieved across their two prior Champions League and Europa League campaigns. The paltry total of two goals they conceded equalled the best defensive record by a Bundesliga team. An opening run of four wins against Red Star Belgrade (2-0), Gent (4-1) and Slovan Liberec (5-0 and 2-0) saw qualification wrapped up with two games to spare. A goalless draw in Belgrade and a closing 4-1 victory at home to the Belgians wrapped up a hugely successful group stage.
Although missing for the first half of the group campaign, Andrej Kramaric remains the main man at Hoffenheim. The Croatian got two goals from three substitute appearances once he returned, adding to the 10 he got in his first eight league and cup games of the season. Munas Dabbur is a Europa League expert and was TSG's top scorer with four, but Sebastian Hoeneß's side are a different beast when they have Kramaric in the side.
One to watch
Maximilian Beier got his first taste of senior football in the second half of last season, benefitting from the extra substitutions allowed. The 18-year-old has spent most of this campaign with the reserves but is clearly not far from Hoeneß's plans as he called him up for the final three group games. The midfielder really took his chance in the last fixture against Gent, bagging a brace and an assist for Kramaric in the 4-1 win. They were his first senior goals for the club and also made him the second-youngest player after Romelu Lukaku to twice in a Europa League game, 54 days after his 18th birthday.
As with Leverkusen, Hoffenheim's first-place finish in Group L means they are seeded for the last-32 draw and will play the second leg at home. They can face all of the 16 unseeded teams except group rivals Red Star. They are: Royal Antwerp, Benfica, Braga, Dynamo Kyiv, Granada, Krasnodar, Lille, Maccabi Tel-Aviv, Molde, Olympiacos, Real Sociedad, Red Bull Salzburg, Slavia Prague, Wolfsberg and Young Boys. The two legs will be played on Thursday 18 and 25 February 2021.
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