The last two rounds of fixtures of the group stage of the premier club competition in the world remain, with qualification for the Round of 16 up for grabs. While many of the biggest names are edging closer to what has become a customary place in the knockout stages, for many others it’s a step closer to the exit – or the Europa League. Here’s what Matchday 5 has in store.
Group A: Dortmund v Atletico for top
The first four groups play their fixtures on Wednesday, as Dortmund host Club Brugge and Atletico host Monaco. Both Dortmund and Atletico – atop Group A with 9 points each – could settle the qualification if they avoid defeat. Of course, victory for both – or the same result – would lead to a Matchday 6 shootout for top spot, as they swap their opponents from this week on their travel.
Group B: Barca all but through, Spurs still hopeful
Top meets bottom as Barcelona (10) travel to PSV Eindhoven (1), with the Catalan side knowing that a win would confirm their qualification as group leaders. Tottenham Hotspurs (4) host Inter Milan (7) knowing that only a win would keep them alive in the competition. Spurs would back themselves at home, but the odds are that we’ll have the entire group sorted out this week – including the third place Europa League.
Group C: Group of Death indeed!
Group C was billed as the Group of Death when the draw was made and it truly has lived up to the name. Two points separate the four sides, with any of Napoli (6), Liverpool (6), Paris Saint Germaine (5) and Red Star Belgrade (4). Belgrade were supposed to be the bystanders as the other three slugged it out, but their 2-0 win over Liverpool in Matchday 4 has thrown the group wide open. Belgrade travel to Napoli and Liverpool travel to Paris, with the group so close that no combination of the six possible results would settle matters.
Group D: Porto, Schalke frontrunners
Porto (10) and Schalke (8) are running away with the group, and the two sides meet each other in a game that could the final rankings. A draw for ensure qualification for both, with a win for the home side guaranteeing them as group leaders. A Porto win coupled with Galatasaray winning away at Lokomotiv Moscow, could make it a two horse race between the Turkish and German sides for second and third positions. The odds are, however, that Porto and Schalke would be through by the end of Matchday 5.
Group E: Bayern ahead, Ajax comfortable
The exact same point situation is in Group E, except that the fixtures aren’t between the same ranked teams. Bayern (10), Ajax (8), would look to settle the group by beating Benfica (4) at home at AEK (0) away, respectively. Benfica need a win away to Bayern to keep the group alive and considering how monumental that challenge would be, the group should be settled after the matchday.
Group F: City set the bar
The top two in the group meet each other as Manchester City (9) travel to Lyon (6). A repeat of the away win in Manchester for the French side would leave them joint top and almost confirm qualification for both – unless Hoffenheim (3) can win both their remaining matches, beginning this week as they host Shakhtar Donetsk (2). Shakhtar’s only hope is winning both their matches and hoping that City beat both Lyon and Hoffenheim.
Group G: Roma challenge Real for top
Real Madrid (9) travel to AS Roma (9) as the top two sides in the group – and two semifinalists from last year – look to distance themselves from CSKA Moscow (4), who still would be within a touching distance of the side that loses the match in Rome, should the Russian side beat Plzen (1) at home this week. But that would mean that CSKA Moscow would need to beat Real at the Bernabeu in the final match day. Real might want to avoid needing a result on the last day to qualify, and would look to settle qualification in Rome.
Group H: Juve, United, Valencia still in running
Two late goals for Manchester United (7) away to Juventus (9) on Matchday 4 has transformed the group from being a slugfest between United and Valencia (5) to one where everything is still up for grabs, with Young Boys (1) all but knocked out. United would fancy getting three points at home against Young Boys, which would confirm their qualification for the knockout stages – unless Valencia beat Juventus away. A Valencia away win at Juventus would be unlikely – but so was United’s – but should it transpire, it could set up a blockbuster Matchday 6 for Group H. The chances, however, are that Juventus and Valencia would be through at the end of this week.