UEFA Champions League Group Stage: Scenarios for Round of 16 survival
Juventus, the grand old dame of European soccer, currently sit in second place, behind Atletico Madrid -- last year’s finalists -- who are already through. They have three points on Olympiakos as well. But the Greeks face group whipping boys Malmo FF at home in their final game whereas Juventus host Atletico. If Olympiakos wins and Juve loses, the Italians are out on the fourth tie-breaker between the two: Head-to-head away goals. All Juve need is a tie and they’re through.
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Somehow, Liverpool are still in this thing. In spite of their own best efforts, they have taken four points -- all of them coming against Ludogorets -- and, courtesy of defending champions Real Madrid’s perfect 5-0-0 record, they can still advance with a straight-up win over FC Basel at home in their final game. That might be easier said than done, as Basel bested Liverpool in their first game in Switzerland. Basel, for their part, need only a tie, since they lead Liverpool by two points.
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Three teams are still in it and both places are still in play. Bayer Leverkusen have nine points and travel to already-eliminated Benfica. Monaco and Zenit St. Petersburg, two beneficiaries of heavy investment in recent years, face off in Monte Carlo with all the marbles on the line. Monaco have eight points to Zenit’s seven. So a draw suits them fine, whereas Zenit need a win to advance. But if Monaco win and Leverkusen fail to, they could win the group. Zenit would also advance with a win and win the group outright if their victory is coupled with a Leverkusen loss. If Zenit win and Bayer tie, the Germans still win the group on the head-to-head, having won both of their games against the Russians.
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There is, at first glance, nothing to play for in this group. Thanks to Arsenal’s 2-0 home win over Borussia Dortmund in the fifth round of play, both of them are through already. Anderlecht, meanwhile, have locked up third place. What they are playing for, then, is the seeded spot at the top. Dortmund, at home to Anderlecht, need but a draw if Arsenal beat Galatasaray in Turkey, since they have the goal difference advantage by six tallies at the moment (That’s the sixth tie-breaker, by the way). Arsenal need to win and for Dortmund to lose -- or tie, if they can make up those six goals -- to win the group.
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The dozen points collected by Bayern Munich has already bagged them this group. Behind them, however, AS Roma, CSKA Moscow and Manchester City each have five points. Fireworks will surely ensue. Roma host City while CSKA travel to Bavaria. Whoever does better on the day will take second place. Right now, Roma holds the better head-to-head over either team and City have the best goal difference of the three.
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This group is all squared away as well, as you would probably expect with Barcelona and budding French juggernauts Paris Saint-Germain pitted against Ajax and APOEL. PSG have the better record, with four wins and a tie; whereas Barca have four wins and a loss. As such, in their second head-to-head meeting, Barca need to win to get the seeding in the Round of 16 and PSG only need a tie. Ajax, meanwhile have two points to APOEL’s one. They’ll play for the spot in the Europa League and the Amsterdammers need only a tie, whereas APOEL need a win.
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Just as in their Premier League campaign, Chelsea are undefeated and have run away with things. With 11 points, they are already through and secure in their berth for the Round of 16 draw. The action on the final day will happen below them. Sporting Clube de Portugal, who travel to London to play the Blues, need but a tie to advance. Schalke need to beat Maribor away, in Slovenia, and for Sporting to lose. Maribor, meanwhile, can reach the Europa League by beating Schalke.
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There isn’t much left to play for here. FC Porto have clinched first place with 13 points and Shakhtar Donetsk are through as well with eight. Athletic Bilbao, perhaps the big disappointments in this tournaments, and BATE Borisov sit on four and three points respectively. In their head-to-head clash in Spain, Athletic need only a tie to reach the Europa League. BATE need a win.