UEFA Champions League Preview: Germany may see only one side progress to the Last 16
Heading into the final round of Champions League group matches eight places in the next round are still up for grabs.
The Spanish giants of Barcelona and Real Madrid are already though along with former champions Bayern Munich and they are joined by Paris Saint-Germain who will be hoping this could be the year all the money invested pays off. Also through are former winners Chelsea and Manchester City who, like PSG, will be dreaming of lifting the trophy at the end of the season. Tottenham Hotspur, who won their group ahead of Real and Turkey’s Besiktas make up the other qualifiers so far.
All this means that there are some big names in European football in danger of not making the knockouts.
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid are more used to appearing in the final than going out in the group stages. They must beat Chelsea away and hope that AS Roma draw or lose to Qarabag for them to progress for the fifth successive season.
Fellow Spanish side Sevilla will be feeling a lot more confident. A draw away to Maribor would be enough to see them through as runners-up, though a win would see them win their group if Liverpool fail to beat Spartak Moscow.
English Premier League clubs have struggled in the Champions League in recent seasons but could have as many as five group winners come the final whistles on Wednesday night. Tottenham and Manchester City have already won their groups but Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool must all be favourites to finish top of their respective pools. United just need a point at Old Trafford where they play CSKA Moscow and Chelsea will win Group C with a victory against Atletico. On Wednesday night Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool can win Group E by beating Spartak Moscow.
Before this season started you would not have thought it possible that Germany could be represented by just one side, Bayern, in the knockout stages. Following a campaign to forget by Dortmund and Leipzig needing things to go their way this week it looks like that could well be the case. Leipzig sit level on points with FC Porto and will only go through if they get a better result than Porto in their final match. Leipzig play group winner Besiktas. For Bayern to progress as group winners they need to win against PSG by four goals.
Champions League football is looking to kick Italy whilst it is down, following their failure to qualify for the World Cup next summer. None of the three Italian sides are confirmed as qualifying for the Last 16 as of yet. Napoli will be looking to bounce back from their loss to Juventus at the weekend by beating Feyenoord. However, for Napoli to progress they also need Manchester City to beat Shakhtar Donetsk. A win for Juve against Olympiakos will be enough for the Old Lady and they could also go through if Sporting CP fail to beat Barcelona. Finally, AS Roma will qualify if they beat Qarabag or if Atletico Madrid fail to beat Chelsea.