With the final round of the Champions League Group Stage set to take centre stage this week, we take a look at how each team is shaping up.
Manchester United, despite their Premier League troubles, have already booked their place in the last 16 of the Champions League, and a draw on Tuesday night against Shakhtar Donetsk will be enough to see them through as group winners. However, the Ukrainian club can see off the challenge of Bayer Leverkusen and clinch top spot with victory at Old Trafford. Leverkusen will take the second qualification berth should they better Shakhtar’s result when they take on Real Sociedad, who have a single point to their name and are already out of the running.
Real Madrid confirmed their place as group winners with a 4-1 win over Galatasaray last time out, meaning that second and third are still up for grabs for the remaining three teams. However, with Juventus on six points and both Galatasaray and FC Copenhagen on four, the Danish club can’t qualify for the last 16 even if they beat Real Madrid due to one of the other two having a better head-to-head record. They can still qualify for a Europa League spot, but it is more likely that it will be a straight shoot-out between the Italian and Turkish clubs respectively for second and third.
Like Real Madrid, Paris St-Germain have already secured qualification and top spot, and they will be joined by either Olympiakos or Benfica. As it stands, Olympiakos hold the better head-to-head record, so Benfica will need to better their rivals scoreline in order to progress. One problem? They need to do it against PSG, while Olympiakos face the already-eliminated Anderlecht.
Both Bayern Munich and Manchester City have booked their place in the first knockout round, but they will face each other on Tuesday to decide who will go through as group winners. Manuel Pellegrini’s side need to win by at least two goals, or by a one-goal advantage of 3-2 or higher. The defending champions will be no easy task though, having comprehensively beaten City at the Etihad 3-1 in match-day two. To qualify for the Europa League, Viktoria Plzen need to beat CSKA Moscow by 1-0, 2-1 or by two goals or more.
Luckily for Chelsea, they qualified for the last 16 despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Basle in the last round – their second defeat to the Swiss in as many games. They face Steaua Bucharest knowing that a win will see them through as group winners, although any slip-up could let a winner from the Schalke v Basle encounter overtake them. Steaua cannot qualify for the Europa League, and Basle need just a draw in Germany to book their place alongside Chelsea.
No team has yet qualified from the group, so prepare yourself as it gets a little confusing:
- Arsenal will qualify and top the group if they earn a draw or better at Napoli, and will qualify second if they avoid a three-goal defeat or worse and Dortmund win.
- Borussia Dortmund will qualify with a win in Marseille, and also if they equal or better Napoli’s result. They can top the group if they win and Arsenal lose as long as the Gunners aren’t defeated by a one-goal margin of 4-3 or higher.
- Napoli will qualify if they better Dortmund’s result, or beat Arsenal by three or more goals, which will also see them top the group.
- Marseille are out of Europe altogether.
Atletico Madrid have already secured top spot, although they squandered their perfect record last time out with the 1-1 draw against Zenit St Petersburg. That draw means the Russian club have six points compared to Porto’s five, so the Portuguese side need to win against Atletico and hope Zenit fail to beat Austria Vienna, due to the head-to-head record standing in Zenit’s favour. Vienna have been eliminated from Europe.
Barcelona are through to the next round regardless, although defeat to Celtic – who are eliminated from Europe – would open the door for AC Milan to win the group. They take on Ajax at the San Siro knowing that anything but defeat will see them through to the last 16. Ajax are assured of the Europa League, but can finish second only if they win in Italy.