The Champions League state of play

2021-11-25 03:01:00 1998

The penultimate round of fixtures in this season's Champions League group stage will be contested this midweek, with plenty still at stake as teams try to secure their places in Europe's premier club competition for the knockout stages.

Four teams are already assured of their places in the last 16, but that means there are still 12 spots up for grabs, while clubs are also battling, or in some cases trying to avoid, finishing third in their groups, which would be enough to take their European participation beyond Christmas, all be it by dropping into the Europa League.

Group A - City and PSG set for smooth progress

As expected, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain appear set to make it through in Group A, although top spot remains very much up for grabs, with Pep Guardiola's side currently holding a point advantage ahead of what looks set to be a decisive meeting between the two teams at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Club Brugge can still join the party, but they realistically need to win their remaining two matches to stay in the hunt, although a point against RB Leipzig this midweek would ensure a place in the Europa League for the Belgian champions - not a bad outcome given they were written off by many before a ball was kicked.

Group B - Three-way battle to join Liverpool in knockout stages

Group B looked one of the toughest to call on paper, but Liverpool have breezed through as group winners with two games to spare, winning all four of their matches to date.

The Reds are likely to have a big say in which team joins them in the knockout stages, as they will host second-place Porto on Wednesday, who sit a point clear of Atletico Madrid in third.

Porto and Atletico will meet in a potentially winner-takes all contest at the Estadio do Dragao on Matchday Six, while AC Milan realistically need to win their remaining two matches to remain in the qualification hunt.

Group C - Sporting and Dortmund set for pivotal showdown

Like Liverpool, Ajax have already wrapped up top spot in their group with four wins from four, while Besiktas could still finish third, but are realistically out of the running after failing to pick up a single point to date.

That appears to leave it as a straight shootout between Sporting Lisbon and Borussia Dortmund for a place in the last 16, with those two sides set to meet in a crunch contest at the Estadio Jose Alvalade on Wednesday.

Both teams are locked together on six points, but it may be advantage Dortmund, as they won when the two teams met in Germany on Matchday Two, while they will host Besiktas in their final group fixture, whereas Sporting must visit Ajax.

Group D - Normal service appears to have resumed

There have been plenty of shocks in Group D, not least group stage debutants Sheriff Tiraspol winning their opening two matches, including claiming a 2-1 success in the Bernabeu against Real Madrid on Matchday Two.

Sheriff have since suffered back-to-back defeats to Inter Milan, while Real Madrid have done the double over Shakhtar Donetsk, which means both those teams now look well placed to advance.

Both Real and Inter will qualify if they win their respective games on Wednesday, but if not, then that could set up a nerve-racking clash between the two sides on Matchday Six and leave the door wide open for Sheriff to qualify.

Shakhtar are also just about still in the qualification mix, but they need to win both their remaining matches if they are to avoid being out of Europe before Christmas.

Group E - Barca rallying in qualification race

Bayern Munich were already assured of their place in the knockout stages heading into Matchday Five and their 2-1 win over Dynamo Kiev sealed top spot.

However, after a cagey 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp, Barcelona and Benfica are battling it out to join them in the last 16.

The Portuguese host winless Kiev and are to make it through. However, should Bayern rest players in the final round, a win for Barca would be a real possibility and will see them take their place in the knockouts.

Group F - United avoid another early exit

Manchester United parted ways with boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of Matchday Five and with their qualification hopes remaining in the balance, as despite topping Group F, there were just four points separating all four teams.

Michael Carrick was placed in interim charge of United when they visited second-place Villarreal on Tuesday and oversaw a 2-0 win. That was enough to see the Red Devils through with a game to spare and win the competition having avoided a last seaon's heartache of a group stage departure.

This pool is far from done, though, with Villarreal (seven points) heading to Atalanta (six points) in the final round for a winner takes all showdown in Bergamo. United will host the Swiss champions on Matchday Six.

Group G - All to play for

Group G is another group where everything is still to play for, with just three points separating group leaders leaders Lille and bottom club Wolfsburg, with Salzburg and Sevilla in between.

Salzburg could haved qualified if they had beaten Lille on Tuesday, but Jonathan David's goal condemned them to a 1-0 win, while Sevilla kept their knockout dreams alive by beating Wolfsburg 2-0.

It is all to play for, with Sevilla to top the pool. However, if they finish third in the group and drop into the Europa League, then they will probably go on and win that competition given they have lifted the trophy a record six times in the last 15 years.

Group H - No dramas for Juve and Chelsea

This always looked like a group that would offer routine progress for Juventus and Chelsea, and that appears to be the case, with the Italian giants already through and the reigning champions needing just a point to join them.

Chelsea clearly had revenge on their mind when they hosted Juve on Matchday Five. The Old Lady claimed a 1-0 win when they met in Turin earlier in the competition, but the holders hit back with a brilliant 4-0 victory.

Russian champions Zenit Saint-Petrsburg needed to see off Malmo on Tuesday, hope Chelsea lost to Juve and then beat the Premier League leaders at the Krestovsky Stadium on Matchday Six to qualify - an unlikely series of events and their 1-1 draw in Sweden means they are out of the competition.

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Topic UEFA Champions LeagueMan CityPSGLiverpoolAtletico MadridAC MilanAjaxSporting LisbonDortmundReal MadridInter MilanBayern MunichBarcelonaMan UnitedLilleJuventusChelsea