5 things to know about Group A of Champions League

With a space in the knockout phase of the Champions League

already secured, Manchester United needs only a draw against

Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday to win Group A.

In the other group match, Bayer Leverkusen hosts Real


Here are five things to know to Tuesday’s matches:


Manchester United won the Premier League by 11 points under

manager Alex Ferguson, but the team is only ninth so far this

season – 13 points behind leader Arsenal – under David Moyes.

”We’ve got roughly the same squad that was champions last

year,” Moyes said. ”We’ve not changed an awful lot in that

period. I need to make sure I’m getting the best out of the players

and we are performing as well as we possibly can.

”I do think we can play better but there were a lot of games

last year where Manchester United didn’t play particularly well and

maybe, in a game like that, sneaked it with a goal.”

After 15 of 38 Premier League games, United is seven points from

fourth place – and Champions League qualification. Moyes will be

hoping he doesn’t have to win the Champions League to guarantee his

team is still competing alongside European football’s elite next



Moyes could be short of options against Shakhtar as United

chases a win that could ensure a more favorable draw in the round

of 16 by winning the group.

Defenders Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling, as

well as midfielder Marouane Fellaini, were missing from the open

section of Monday’s training session. Midfielder Michael Carrick is

already out with an Achilles injury.


Only a victory will earn Shakhtar first place, and guarantee

qualification regardless of the outcome of the other match.

Shakhtar is only one point ahead of third-place Bayer


But Shakhtar has never won in England, having lost four and

drawn one match against London opponents.


While strong at home, Leverkusen has been a lot less convincing

in the Champions League. The team is coming off a 5-0 drubbing at

home by Manchester United, which scored nine goals in two matches

against them.

But Bayer Leverkusen has emerged as Bayern Munich’s closest

challenger at home, although few doubt that Bayern will be


With 37 from a possible 45 points, Leverkusen would be at the

top of the standings in most Bundesliga seasons. After 15 matches,

Leverkusen has more points than any other second-place team in

Bundesliga history.

”In virtually all of Europe’s leagues, we would be top of the

standings,” Leverkusen technical director Rudi Voeller said.


With only one point at the bottom of Group A, Real Sociedad is

only playing for pride against Leverkusen.

The Basque club will be without Inigo Martinez because of a left

leg injury, while fellow defender Alberto de la Bella is also

unavailable because of injury. Sociedad remains without midfielders

Esteban Granero and David Zurutuza.

Forward Antoine Griezmann is still looking for his first

European goal after scoring nine in the Spanish league this season

for the sixth-place club.