This season’s Champions League has been a thrilling spectacle so far and with one round of matches still to play, seven teams have secured their place in the knockout stages. Groups A and B are already decided, with Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich the respective winners in each, and Real Madrid and Tottenham Hotspur finishing in the second coveted spot. Joining them are the outright favourites in Champions League odds, Manchester City, as well as Juventus and Barcelona.
With the draw for the round of 16 set to take place on December 16th, the subsequent fixtures aren’t until February and March. There are 14 teams still vying for nine places in the knockout stages, with five knowing that they will be playing Europa League football after the New Year. Let’s take a look at where things stand and what the permutations are.
With City through to the knockout stages, second place is up for grabs. Any one of three can join them with Shakhtar Donetsk in the driving seat on six points. Dinamo Zagreb sit one point behind them and Atalanta make up the group on four points. All three sides have only won one of their matches so far, making it too close to call.
In the final round of games, the current Ukrainian champions host Atalanta in what could prove a decisive match. In the reverse fixture, the Italians were holding out for a draw until Manor Soloman scored Shakhtar’s winner in the fifth minute of stoppage time.
Like Group C, we have a winner – Juventus. The Serie A champions top the group with four wins and a draw with a game to spare. It’s a battle between Atlético Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen for the second knockout place.
Atléti lead the way with seven points and they face bottom-of-the-table Lokomotiv Moscow, who haven’t won since matchday one. The Spaniards have lost their last two matches, so will need a return to form to secure their spot. Bayer host Juventus, knowing they will need to better Atléti’s result.
Group E is among the tightest, with Liverpool topping the table on 10 points; Napoli are a point behind them and Red Bull Salzburg sit third on seven points. Jürgen Klopp’s side travel to in-form Salzburg knowing that a win will send them through, while a draw may also be enough.
Napoli host Genk who are yet to win a group game, so victory at the Stadio San Paolo should be a formality for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
As mentioned, Barcelona are Group F winners, while the race for second will be a battle between Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund have the easier fixture of the two, hosting Slavia Prague. Inter are at home to Barça and if they can secure the win, they will go through on the head-to-head rule. Having beaten Dortmund 2-0 at the San Siro, before losing 3-2 in Germany, Inter would progress with a better goal difference over the two matches (+1).
Group G is the closest with all three places up for grabs. Red Bull Leipzig are leading the way with 10 points, Zenit St. Petersburg and Lyon both sit on seven points, while Benfica could still make a late charge for the Europa League round of 32 place. They currently sit fourth on four points.
Leipzig travel to Lyon, while Benfica host Zenit. There is the possibility that three teams could all finish on 10 points. Leipzig need at least a draw to progress, while Zenit will go through if they beat Benfica. If Zenit and Lyon are level on points after their final games, the Russians will progress with a better head-to-head record.
As things stand, Ajax top Group H on 10 points, with Chelsea and Valencia both sat on eight points. Chelsea host bottom-of-the-table Lille and victory will see them qualify for the knockout stages. Ajax need a draw at minimum to progress, but defeat against Valencia will send the Spaniards through. For all three clubs, their fate is in their own hands.