Man United, Real Madrid could bow out in pivotal week
The Champions League group stage has reached its climax, with seven places in the round of 16 still up for grabs, reports ESPN.
The crucial action comes in Group H as Man United, PSG, and RB Leipzig fight it out for the two places, while Borussia Monchengladbach, Inter Milan, Real Madrid, and Shakhtar Donetsk are in a titanic battle in Group B.
In Group A, reigning champions Bayern Munich are already through as group winners so coach Hansi Flick may opt to rotate his squad following their 3-3 draw with RB Leipzig at the weekend. English wunderkind Jamal Musiala scored alongside a brace from Thomas Muller against Leipzig leaving Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga. They have Javi Martinez, Alphonso Davies, Jerome Boateng, Lucas Hernandez, and Joshua Kimmich all out injured but should have too much for Lokomotiv.
Lokomotiv may yet need a result in Munich to secure a spot in the Europa League and will take heart from their 3-1 win over Rubin Kazan at the weekend where Vladislav Ignatyev scored twice.
Both Salzburg and Atletico have a shot at reaching the knockouts, with the Austrians needing to beat Diego Simeone’s side to go through. Jesse Marsch’s Salzburg suffered a shock 1-0 defeat to Flyeralarm Admira at the weekend but will hope for more of the same from their last Champions League match where they won 3-1 at Lokomotiv. Antoine Bernede misses out through injury while Noah Okafor is a doubt.
Group B is beautifully poised with all four teams still hopeful of gate-crashing the knockout stages.
Internazionale will go through to the knockouts if they beat Shakhtar Donetsk and the Real-Borussia match does not end in a draw.
Shakhtar will progress if they win in Milan whom they drew 0-0 with first time out. But without Ismaily, Viktor Kornienko, Yevgen Konoplyanaka, and Junior Moraes, Inter should have too much for the visitors here.
Real Madrid’s topsy-turvy season continued with a 1-0 win at Sevilla win at the weekend, thanks to a Yassine Bounou own-goal, but the pressure’s on Zinedine Zidane’s side to get a result against the impressive Borussia Monchengladbach. Gladbach lost to Inter Milan in the last round, but know they may need a draw to go through.
Pep Guardiola’s side is through as Group C winners so expect some rotation against Andre Villas-Boas’ team. They have Sergio Aguero still out injured but Guardiola’s team should see off Marseille.
Marseille will be hoping to get a result in Manchester to book a spot in the Europa League and will travel over the Channel buoyed by their 2-0 win at Nimes on Friday.
Like Marseille, Olympiakos will be gunning for third and qualification to the Europa League. They will fancy their chances against Porto tomorrow. FC Porto drew with City last time out.
Danish champions FC Midtjylland will finish at the foot of Group D while Liverpool head into the knockouts as group winners so hopefully that’ll lead to an expansive, end-to-end match. Liverpool should have too much for the hosts.
Ajax versus Atalanta will be one of the games of Matchday 6 with everything on the line. If Atalanta avoids defeat, they’ll go through to the knockout stages but a win for Ajax will see them leapfrog the Italians into second.
Chelsea will top Group E. Krasnodar are already secure in the third spot in this group. They will be without Dmitri Stotskiy and Sergey Petrov and will do well to get anything out of this trip to Stamford Bridge.
This group’s standings are cemented with Rennes finishing fourth, and Sevilla going through as runners-up.
Anything other than a defeat against Club Brugge will see Lazio through in Group E. Club Brugge beat Zenit 3-0 last time out and have a fully fit squad for the trip to Rome.
Zenit’s Dejan Lovren is out injured and will miss today’s game against Borussia Dortmund, who are struggling for goals without the injured Erling Haaland.
Borussia Dortmund is already through to the round of 16 and will want to finish top of the group but will have to do it without Manuel Akanji, Raphael Guerreiro, Thomas Delaney, Marcel Schmelzer, and Haaland.
The clash between Barcelona and Juventus is a tantalising battle between two European giants for the top spot. Barcelona head into this clash off the back of impressive European form, but a dismal performance in the league as they lost 2-1 to Cadiz on Saturday. Juventus need a victory to top Group G.
Dynamo Kiev versus Ferencvaros is a battle for the Europa League spot, which Dynamo Kiev will take if they avoid defeat.
Group H is evenly poised with three teams all in with a shout of getting through to the knockout stages.
PSG knows a win over Istanbul Basaksehir will see them book their spot in the Round of 16.
Manchester United need to avoid defeat in Leipzig to go through, while Julian Nagelsmann’s side will be looking for revenge having lost the return game 5-0 at Old Trafford.