Champions League group stage: Who needs what to reach last-16 knockouts in final round of games

Five spots are still up for grabs in the last 16

Karl Matchett
Wednesday 08 December 2021 15:45
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The Champions League group stage is into the final round of matches, with some sides already safe in the knowledge they’ll be featuring in the last 16.

That said, there are still four places to be fought over, one group still has top spot to decide for the knockout seedings and a host of teams can still at least ensure they are playing Europa League football in the new year if they get the right result on Matchweek 6.

Most notably, one group is utterly undecided with all four teams able to qualify for the last-16 or be dumped out of Europe entirely.

All four Premier League teams are through, but one still needs a result to guarantee first place.

Here’s the state of play for each group and what needs to happen for each team to qualify across Tuesday and Wednesday.

Group A: Only Europa to play for

A lovely, quick, easy one to start with.

Manchester City are already guaranteed top spot and Paris Saint-Germain have qualified in second.

Third is between RB Leipzig and Club Brugge; the German side currently occupy that Europa spot and will stay there as long as they match Brugge’s result against PSG.

Update: Leipzig’s win over City meant they finished third.

Group B: Trio fight for one place

It was termed as a potential group of death when the draw was made, but Liverpool have run away with it - five wins from five, already guaranteed top spot and just one of three sides with a perfect record at this stage so far.

There is a three-way fight for second, though, with Porto on five points and both Atletico Madrid and AC Milan on four - any of the sides can still finish in any of the remaining positions.

  • If Porto beat Atletico, they finish second.
  • If Porto and Atletico draw, Porto will be second unless Milan beat Liverpool, then it’s the Italians.
  • If Atletico beat Porto, they will finish second if Milan don’t beat Liverpool.
  • Milan can only qualify by beating Liverpool and with Porto failing to win.
  • A Porto win and Milan taking at least a point means the Serie A side will be third and into the Europa, with Atletico finishing bottom.
  • The only way Porto finish bottom without any European football to come is if Atletico and Milan both win.
  • Both games ending as a draw will see Porto second, Milan third and Atleti fourth.

Update: Atletico’s victory pushed them up to second, while Porto head for the Europa.

Group C: Wrapped up early

The sole group which is already done and dusted, regardless of results this week.

Ajax are top with five wins from five, while Sporting CP are guaranteed second thanks to their superior head-to-head with Borussia Dortmund. The Germans are set to finish third, with Besiktas - currently pointless - rock bottom.

Update: As you were, one to four.

Group D: Top spot to be decided

Real Madrid and Inter Milan have rather predictably come through as qualifiers for the last-16, even if there were one or two surprising results along the way.

The pair meet in Spain for the final game and Inter have to win if they want to finish top; a draw or Real victory means Carlo Ancelotti’s team will do instead.

FC Sheriff have surprised many by picking up two wins and they will be in the Europa League in the new year, with Shakhtar Donetsk bottom of the quartet.

Update: Real’s comfortable win over Inter means they topped the group.

Group E: Xavi vs Jorge Jesus

Bayern Munich have cruised through, the third team with five wins from five and top spot assured.

It’s now down to Barcelona (currently second) and Benfica (third) to determine who goes into the Champions or Europa League knockouts. Dynamo Kyiv will finish fourth.

  • If Barcelona beat Bayern Munich, they’ll finish second.
  • They will also finish second regardless of their result if Benfica do not beat Kyiv.
  • Benfica have the superior head-to-head, so a point isn’t enough for Barca if the Portuguese side win at home.

Group F: Spain and Italy fight for second

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did part of the job, Michael Carrick oversaw an all-important win and now Ralf Rangnick will wrap up matters - but whatever he achieves in the final game, United will top the group.

Second is between Villarreal and Atalanta, who meet in Italy on the final night, while Young Boys can still finish third if results go their way.

  • A draw or win for Villarreal means they finish second.
  • Atalanta need victory to overtake their opponents and progress with United.
  • Young Boys need to win and hope Villarreal also win for the Swiss side to take third.

Group G: All four teams can still go through...or go out

The tightest-fought group of the eight this year, Lille (eight points) currently lead the way and will finish no lower than third. The rest could all yet finish top or bottom and there could be a three-way finish on eight points. RB Salzburg (seven) are second, Sevilla (six) third and Wolfsburg (five) fourth heading into the last match.

  • A Lille win in Germany guarantees them top spot. A draw and they are through, with position dependant on the other game’s result.
  • If Wolfsburg beat Lille, they will beat the French side via head-to-head so will jump from fourth to second as long as the other game ends in a victory for somebody. Lille would then drop to third.
  • Whoever wins the Salzburg vs. Sevilla match is guaranteed to go through. If it’s the Austrian team, they will be top if Lille don’t win, or second if they do. If it’s the Spanish side, they’ll be second if Lille win or draw, or top if Lille lose.
  • If Salzburg and Sevilla draw, Salzburg stay second unless Wolfsburg win - then it’s head-to-head(-to head) between the top three. Wolfsburg would then win the group, with Salzburg second and Lille dropping to third.
  • Wolfsburg can come top, second or bottom, but no set of results puts them third and into the Europa.

Group H: Chelsea seek to finish the job

Chelsea and Juventus have already qualified for the last 16 and are level on points. If they both pick up the same result - win, lose or draw - in their final fixtures, Chelsea take top spot by virtue of head to head.

Therefore a win in Russia on the final night guarantees them top spot, but a draw will do if Juve fail to win in Sweden and so on.

Zenit are already guaranteed third because they have a better head-to-head than Malmo, who are bottom.

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