Group Stage Roundup With the group stage now complete with ALL games played (well done!), here's the final group tables: Lots of interesting results with a bunch of very close groups. Many groups came down to the final game. But first, let's see how each Serie did against each other to see who earned some bragging rights: Serie A: 6 in first, 4 in second, 2 in third, 0 in fourth Serie B: 1 in first, 2 in second, 3 in third, 4 in fourth Serie C: 1 in first, 2 in second, 3 in third, 4 in fourth Serie A vs. Serie B: 10-2-2 Serie A vs. Serie C: 9-4-1 Serie B vs. Serie C: 5-3-4 Feels good to be up in Serie A . Pretty close though between Serie B & C. Same placements within the groups and close W-L. Also, this season saw 9 draws, including at least one in each group. This is up from just 4 a season ago, and made for a more interesting race toward the end. The Dreaded 4 Points 5 and you're in, 3 and you're out. 4? Good luck! 8 teams finished with 4 points, and half of them advanced. To make matters even worse, 3 of those who were eliminated with 4 points (Celtic, FC Koln, Parma) suffered heartbreakers by missing out on advancement by simply having 1 worse GD than their 2nd-place counterparts. Key Takeaways 1) Zikry showed in Group A why he is the TFL Tourney King. Even with some matches against hot teams, Aston Villa won all 3 matches without allowing a goal. 2) The Group of Death (Group B) turned out to be just that. With the top two teams from Serie A, the 4th-placed Serie B squad, and a stout Serie C side that will likely be promoted, the highest and lowest goal differential was only +2 and -2. In the end, it was Udinese and Santos FC that were the odd ones out. 3) While Aston Villa and Spartak Moscow are often regulars at the top of the goals scored category, it was Everton who surprisingly came away with the most goals (13). Yet even with all those goals, the English club could only manage a 4-4 draw against Olympiakos to finish with 7 points. 4) Of the clubs without any points, perhaps the most surprising was Serie B's Hamburger SV. Recently promoted from Serie C, the German club lost each of its matches by a score of 4-1, as defensive play plagued the side from the get go. 5) The Group of Life (Group H) finished with PSV Eindhoven on top, but Serie C side Derby County surprised with a 2nd-place finish. With other Serie C clubs pushing for the league's title, Derby County has remained mostly under the radar and remains as a viable threat in the tournament. Most Surprising Club Fiorentina and hokie79. With strong defensive play, the Serie C club was able to win the Group of Death over some stiff competition, including the top two teams in the most recent Serie A table. GK A. Boruc pulled off 2 clean sheets, and A. Gilardino scored just enough to earn the Viola first place. Despite a tough match next against Wolverhampton, the Italians may be Serie C's best remaining hope. Biggest Matchday 3 Group-Changers Udinese 1-2 Santos FC Udinese's loss in Matchday 3 to Santos FC was unexpected to say the least. Heading into the final match, Serie A-leading Udinese needed a win against Santos FC, who had nothing to play for except their pride. Udinese crumbled under the pressure after jumping out to an early lead, and their Coppa chances were squashed in the end. Derby County 1-1 SC Braga Despite SC Braga's Serie A struggles, now was their time to regroup and take on the Coppa. However, drawing 1-1 all but assured their ticket home. After Derby County scored a first half goal, SC Braga was unable to overcome the deficit. With the draw, SC Braga finished in 3rd place in Group H, a point behind Derby County. Celtic 0-4 Aston Villa After riding high with recent success in Serie C and a solid draw against Wolverhampton, Celtic went into free fall against Aston Villa. The 4 goals were just enough to knock Celtic out of the Coppa, and one pundit even criticized Celtic's manager, BigSmooth33, noting the game as a "wake up call" (... RedAL925) bunch of great games and looking forward to the knockout stage. Congrats to all who advanced, and be on the lookout for a Round of 16 preview.