From a number of perspectives, every game in the Champions League is “big” but as we approach Matchday 5, with only Barcelona guaranteed qualification for the knockout stages, evidently some games are bigger than others.
With 26 of the 32 teams still in the running to reach the last 16, our friends at Football Whispers break down what’s required to qualify and the various permutations within each of the eight groups.
Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid have dominated this group, both stand on nine points and victories this matchday will send them through, with only first place then to be decided. Dortmund will definitely top the section if they win their remaining two matches – Bruges (H) and Monaco (A) as they have the superior head-to-head record.
Bruges have an outside chance of making the last 16 if they can win in Dortmund and beat Atletico at home but also need a favour from Monaco in one of their fixtures. Thierry Henry’s side cannot reach the knockouts but can claim a Europa League place if they make up the three-point deficit on the Belgians.
Tottenham are 81 with Fansbet to win this season’s Champions League
With Barcelona already qualified, the match at Wembley between Tottenham and Inter is pivotal. Should Spurs lose or draw they definitely cannot qualify as the Serie A side will possess the superior head-to-head record.
Inter can still catch Barcelona if they win their final two matches – Spurs (A) and PSV (H) – and hope that the Catalans lose either in the Netherlands this week or at home to Tottenham on the final matchday.
PSV can’t make the knockouts but need Tottenham to not win both their final matches, and then get at least one win and a draw against Barca and Inter to snatch a Europa League spot.
The most open of the eight groups with Red Star Belgrade’s surprise win over Liverpool keeping them in contention along with the other three sides. That said, everything could be decided this week as if Liverpool beat PSG and Napoli defeat Red Star both will qualify.
The meeting at Anfield between the two teams will then decide group winner. By contrast, PSG and Red Star both need to leave the group at: PSG – 8, Red Star – 7, Napoli – 6, Liverpool – 6, and take it to the final matchday where the French champions travel to Serbia.
Porto need just a draw from one of their final matches – Schalke (H) and Galatasaray (A) – to confirm their spot, leaving those two sides to fight it out for second as Lokomotiv Moscow are bottom on zero points and can’t even make the Europa League.
If Schalke draw or win in Portugal and Galatasaray don’t defeat Lokomotiv the group is decided. But if the Turkish side claim three points and Schalke lose or draw to Porto it takes it to the final matchday.
Like Barcelona and Porto, Bayern have 10 points but are still to confirm their spot due to their opponents on Tuesday, Benfica, in third and on four points. Subsequently, a win or draw at the Allianz Arena and the Bundesliga champions are through.
Benfica must beat Bayern and AEK Athens to have any hope of getting through but they still need Ajax to drop points in Greece and then at home to Bayern. Should Ajax beat AEK Athens, who have lost all four matches, they will have qualified. A draw or defeat will take it to the final matchday, if Benfica win at the Allianz Arena.
Man City are 4.5 with Fansbet to win this season’s Champions League
A win for Manchester City in Lyon will confirm them as group winners and into the last 16, while a draw will be enough to send them through with top spot to be decided on the final matchday at home to Hoffenheim.
Both the Bundesliga side and bottom team Shakhtar Donetsk need maximum points from their final two fixtures to qualify, but as they play each other at the Rhein Neckar Arena this week, one is likely to be eliminated by full time.
Real Madrid and Roma both stand on nine points and meet each other at the Stadio Olimpico. It should be a shootout to decide first place but CSKA Moscow are not totally out of the equation just yet.
The Russians host bottom side Viktoria Plzen and then travel to the Bernabeu on the final matchday. So, should Roma beat Real and then CSKA pull off two wins, they will be the second-placed side. But should CSKA lose or draw to the Czechs, then Madrid and Roma qualify no matter what.
Group leaders Juventus can seal their passage with a win or draw over Valencia in Turin, but the Spanish side are chasing victory themselves and have an outside shot of reaching the top two if Manchester United fail to beat Young Boys. That would set up a decider at the Mestalla on December 12.
United’s task, therefore, is straightforward. Jose Mourinho’s side will qualify with a win at Old Trafford over Young Boys, if Valencia don’t beat Juve. If they lose or draw to the Swiss they will then have to avoid defeat on matchday 6.
*Odds subject to change
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