With the UEFA Champions League Group Stage now 2/3rds of the way complete, things are about to get interesting. Each club still possesses a shot at earning up to six points over the final two group stage matches meaning that, for the most part, the knockout qualifying places in each group still remain completely up for grabs.
While some sides are more likely than others to lock up these spaces over the final two match days, you just never quite know what will happen during the Champions League. So, let’s take a quick dive into each of the groups and get a lay of the land for these final two group stage matches and find out exactly what each club must do if they want to continue on in their continental campaigns.
Italicized = Guaranteed at least third place
* = Eliminated from Champions League Knockout Round
The UEFA Champions League Group Stage So Far
1. Borussia Dortmund 9pts
2. Atletico Madrid 9pts
3. Club Brugge 4pts
4. Monaco 1pt*
With only two matches to go in the group stage, both Borussia Dortmund and Atletico Madrid look to be in full command when it comes to Group A. However, while both sides will not have to play each other over the final two matches, there are still some worrying games coming up. For Dortmund, this includes a trip to Monaco on the final matchday while Atletico host Monaco at home on matchday five before travelling to Brugge on matchday six.
If Brugge manage to earn a shock win in both of their final matches, they may just be able to upset one of the two giants currently seated ahead of them. However, with tough matches against both Dortmund and Atletico on the horizon, they must also try to simply earn points as they try to hold off Monaco in the race for the Europa League place in Group A.
1. Barcelona 10pts
2. Inter Milan 7pts
3. Tottenham 4pts
4. PSV 1pts*
In Group B, one has to assume that both Barcelona and Inter Milan have the upperhand going forward. With both possessing a match against bottom of the table PSV to close out the group stage, Barcelona and Inter look to have a guaranteed three points on their plate. The same however, cannot be said for London based side Tottenham Hotspur.
Tottenham will have a shot to tie Inter Milan on points when they host the Italian club on Wednesday. They also face a massive test on the final matchday of the group stage when they travel to Camp Nou to take on Barcelona, a match that will likely be a must win game for Spurs if they wish to have any hope of qualifying for the knockout round.
1. Napoli 6pts
2. Liverpool 6pts
3. Paris Saint-Germain 5pts
4. Red Star Belgrade 4pts
The closest group in the entire competition at this stage, Group C can still go any way at this point. With Napoli and Liverpool both tied at the top of the group with six points apiece, the two are not even remotely safe at this stage. In fact, first to fourth in Group C are only separated by two points. Moreso, each side in the group still has an incredibly tough match remaining.
For Liverpool, this match will be a trip to Paris on Wednesday for a faceoff with Neymar and PSG. Red Star Belgrade also have a tough matchup ahead of them on Wednesday as they head to Italy to take on Napoli. However, the tables could still turn on the final matchday when Red Star play host to PSG while Napoli are forced to make a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool. Overall, the direction of this group is still anybody’s guess.
1. FC Porto 10pts
2. FC Schalke 8pts
3. Galatasaray 4pts
4. Lokomotiv Moscow 0pts*
One of only two groups in the competition with a side still on zero points, Group D looks already decided at this stage. While both Porto and Schalke can be caught by Galatasaray, the Portuguese and German based sides look set to qualify for the Champions League knockout phase.
In fact, those qualifications could be made official on Wednesday when Porto take on Schalke. Why you ask? Well, because Galatasaray are forced to head to Russia to take on Lokomotiv Moscow. While the Russian based side have zero points from four matches, this final Champions League home match should inspire Lokomotiv and result in an entertaining match.
1. Bayern Munich 10pts
2. Ajax 8pts
3. Benfica 4pts
4. AEK Athens 0pts*
Sitting atop Group E are Bayern Munich, an expected result. However, sitting second place in the group are Dutch side Ajax, something many folks did not expect to see. Even more noteworthy is the fact that Ajax have a four point lead over third place Benfica heading into the final two matches of the group stage.
For Benfica, this means that the Portuguese side must find a way to win when they travel to Bayern Munich on Tuesday night. With Ajax visiting last place AEK Athens, the Dutch side does not even have to win to their match to qualify for the knockout round. A draw though almost certainly will put them through as the second-placed team in Group E.
1. Manchester City 9pts
2. Olympique Lyon 6pts
3. Hoffenheim 3 pts
4. Shakhtar Donetsk 2pts
Manchester City looked to have their spot in the knockout round completely locked up last time out until a late goal from Hoffenheim earned the German club a draw against Lyon. That said, City are going through. Needing just a single point, they either need to earn a draw from their visit to Lyon on Thursday or see Hoffenheim fail to win when they host Shakhtar Donetsk.
However, while the top spot in the group looks set to go City’s way, there is a good chance that we could be in for some suspense on the final matchday. With Lyon only sitting three points clear of Hoffenheim, the French club will be looking to add at least a point from their match with City. After all, while Hoffenheim must visit Manchester on the final matchday of the group stage, Lyon will be forced to head east into Ukraine for a game against Shakhtar.
1. Real Madrid 9pts
2. AS Roma 9pts
3. CSKA Moscow 4pts
4. Viktoria Plzen 1pt*
Unlike some of the groups listed above, Group G is relatively straightforward at this stage. While not official by any means, both Real Madrid and Roma should head through to the knockout phases. However, the real story from this group could be the battle for the spot in the Europa League.
Currently sitting in third place is CSKA Moscow. The Russian based club should also have the upperhand as they play host to Czech side Viktoria Plzen on Tuesday night. However, that advantage could quickly go out the window if Viktoria Plzen find a way to upset CSKA. After all, on the very next matchday, Viktoria Plzen host Roma while CSKA Moscow will be forced to visit Real Madrid.
1. Juventus 9pts
2. Man United 7pts
3. Valencia 5pts
4. Young Boys 1pt
Sitting atop Group H in the safest spot we find Italian giants Juventus. While the Italians are only four points clear of Valencia in the group standings, few will question Juventus’ chances of qualifying for the knockout round especially with only a trip to Young Boys and a home match against Valencia remaining.
The real story should, like Group G, come from the fight for third place. With Valencia playing host to Manchester United on Tuesday night, the Spanish club have a chance to overtake United in the table. Adding to this of course is the poor play of the Manchester based club meaning a final game win against Young Boys at Old Trafford is still no shoe-in at this stage.
Main image:Embed from Getty Images