Paris Saint-Germain struggle without Messi against Benfica, as Juventus risk UCL elimination

Matchday four (11 October) in the Champions League Group H produced some surprising results, as Paris Saint-Germain were held by Benfica at the Parc des Princes while Juventus were defeated 2-0 by Maccabi Haifa.

PSG are top of the group having won two and drawn two, while the Portuguese side are also level on points with them, with only goal difference separating them from the French side.

Benfica held the Ligue 1 giants to a 1-1 draw when they clashed at Estadio da Luz in the first leg, as Lionel Messi’s opener was not enough for the visitors, and many would have expected PSG to bag all three points in front of their fans.

Kylian Mbappe put his side ahead from the spot in the 40th minute, but with the Argentine legend missing due to a knock, Christophe Galtier’s side struggled to produce clearcut goalscoring chances, and they were punished for it in the second half, with Joao Mario drawing the visitors level with a penalty kick two minutes after the hour mark.

Both sides could not get a winner, settling for a share of the spoils, and the next two games will likely determine who tops the group.

Neither PSG nor Benfica are guaranteed a place in the last-16 yet, though, as Juventus and Maccabi Haifa can still pip them to the top two spots if they pick up maximum points from their next two games.

The Serie A giants were undone by a first-half brace from Omer Atzili at Sammy Ofer Stadium, suffering their third defeat of the group stage.

Massimiliano Allegri’s side have won just once and are in third place, and they are level on points with the Israeli side, with only a superior goal difference separating them.

Juve travel to Portugal to play Benfica next while PSG host Maccabi Haifa, and the games could determine who will be playing in the knockout stages and who will be playing in the Europa League early next year.

The Italians are struggling domestically this season, with just four wins in 10 games to their name so far, and they are 8th in the league table.

They could end up playing in the Europa League last-32, but a change in management could be on the cards if results across all competitions do not improve in the coming weeks.

Benfica are league leaders in the Portuguese Primeira Liga having won eight of their opening nine games and drawn the other.

PSG are also top of the table in the Ligue 1 having won nine and drawn two of their opening 11 games.

Maccabi Haifa are second in the Israeli Premier League after eight games, with a point separating them from leaders Maccabi Tel-Aviv.

Group H of the Champions League is proving to be unpredictable, and fans could be in for more surprises in the last two games of the stage.

Many had tipped PSG to finish as group leaders and Juventus to finish as runners-up, but that may not happen as Benfica and Maccabi Haifa have other plans.