It’s official – the big sides aren’t having it all their way this season in Europe – already we’ve seen Arsenal struggle at home, Liverpool struggle home and away, United drop points, Barcelona lose at home, Inter making a mockery out of their status as Serie A champions and German giants Bayern Munich with one foot already in the Europa League.
Losing out in the group stages isn’t grounds for losing your job in England, but it might be in Germany where Louis Van Gaal has led Bayern Munich to absolutely nowhere this season in the league and they need to beat Juventus in Turin to progress in the Champions League.
With Inter needing to beat Rubin Kazan at the San Siro and Wolfsburg needing a win against Manchester United to guarantee progress from their group, Matchday 6 will prove to be quite interesting.
Let’s look at each of the 8 groups, the teams, the remaining fixtures and what’s likely to happen by 9th December.
Teams already qualified are in bold. Remember, If two or more teams are level on points they are split by their head to head performances.
(Bordeaux 13, Juventus 8, Bayern Munich 7, Maccabi Haifa 0)
Bordeaux are through to the knockout stages top of their group, courtesy of their back to back wins over Bayern Munich. They also beat Juventus at home after drawing with them away.
Juventus host Bayern Munich on Matchday 6 – battle worth tens of millions of euros. A draw sees Juventus through, so Bayern will have to produce something special (having only drawn their home game against Juve).
Prediction: [CL: Bordeaux, Juventus. EL: Bayern Munich]
(Manchester United 10, Wolfsburg 7, CSKA Moskva 7, Besiktas 4)
Manchester United have qualified thanks to their superior head-to-head record against CSKA Moscow, but they now need a point against Wolfsburg to guarantee top spot in the group. and with a home game to Besiktas next they are likely to end up on 13 points going into the Matchday 6 game away to Wolfsburg.
Wolfsburg needed to avoid defeat against CSKA Moscow but still boast a better head-to-head record against them – meaning that if they get more points than the Russians on Matchday 6, they are through.
CSKA Moscow beat Besiktas 2-1 on Matchday 1 – and if Besiktas can beat CSKA Moscow with a better scoreline (i.e. 1-0 or a 2-goal margin) then it would be Besiktas, not CSKA Moscow, going to the Europa League.
On the other hand, a win for CSKA Moscow gives them an outside chance at progression in the Champions League.
Prediction: [CL: Manchester United, Wolfsburg. EL: CSKA Moskva]
(Real Madrid 10, AC Milan 8, Marseille 7, FC Zurich 3)
Real Madrid travel to Marseille needing a point to guarantee progression. The point seems academic – barring a catastrophic defensive collapse, Madrid are more or less through. They beat Marseille 3-0 in their home game on Matchday 2 and would need to lose by a comparable margin to be behind Marseille on head-2-head.
AC Milan were lazy against Marseille but will have the chance to make up for it away to Zurich – a win there will see Milan through regardless of what happens in Marseille.
Marseille don’t have a great record – thrashed Zurich 6-1 on Matchday 4 but have also lost to Madrid 3-0 away and lost to Milan at home. They need a big win against Madrid and will be hoping that Zurich can cause an upset.
Prediction: [CL: Real Madrid, AC Milan. EL: Marseille.]
(Chelsea 13, Porto 9, Atletico Madrid 3, APOEL Nicosia 2)
This group is done and dusted – Chelsea confirmed top spot in the group yesterday with a 1-0 win away to Porto, and the battle for the Europa League spot looks settled too – Atletico host Porto in the final round while APOEL travel to Chelsea.
Prediction: [CL: Chelsea, Porto. EL: Atletico Madrid]
(Fiorentina 12, Lyon 10, Liverpool 7, Debrecen 0)
Top spot (and pride) are up for grabs in Group E – Fiorentina travel to Liverpool and Lyon host Debrecen, so unless Fiorentina get a point out of the game at Anfield, Lyon should progress to the knockout stages top of their group. I expect Liverpool to beat Fiorentina – pride after the fall, so to speak.
Prediction: [CL: Lyon, Fiorentina. EL: Liverpool.]
(Barcelona 8, Inter Milan 6, Rubin Kazan 6, Dynamo Kiev 5)
This group has flip-flopped from day one, and going into the final game it’s still the only group where all four teams are in with a shout of progression to the Champions League knockout stages.
Barcelona travel to Dynamo Kiev needing a point to go through (and a win to guarantee top spot). Barcelona have 2 points from 2 away games in Europe this season but I expect them to get the job done with a win.
Inter Milan host Rubin Kazan with both teams on 6 points. Kazan held Milan to a 1-1 draw at home earlier this season so Milan will know the importance of defending well and ensuring that they get three points wrapped up as early in the game as possible.
Rubin Kazan are still in a good position – they will know that if they nick a win (or a high-scoring draw) against Inter then they are through to the next round.
Dynamo Kiev need a win and need Inter-Kazan to draw to progress to the knockout stages. Barring that, a point for Kiev and a win for Inter will see the Ukrainians head into the Europa League at the expense of the Russians courtesy of a better head-to-head record.
Prediction: [CL: Barcelona, Inter Milan. EL: Rubin Kazan]
(Sevilla 10, Unirea Urziceni 8, Stuttgart 6, Rangers 2)
Sevilla have qualified and will host knocked out Rangers in the last game. They still need to win to guarantee top spot, and while Rangers have been abysmal at home they have drawn their two away games.
Unirea Urziceni play Stuttgart away in the battle for the second knockout round spot for this group – Urziceni need a draw to go through, but with Stuttgart gunning for a win it’s going to be very close.
Prediction: [CL: Sevilla, Stuttgart. EL: Unirea Urziceni]
(Arsenal 13, Olympiacos 7, Standard Liege 4, AZ Alkmaar 3)
Arsenal have qualified and taken the top spot in the group as well.
Olympiacos could only draw to AZ Alkmaar and have an inferior head-to-head record to Standard Liege (equal points but Standard lead on goal difference), so they now need a point from their final home game against Arsenal to guarantee progress.
Standard Liege can still qualify and with the final game at home against Alkmaar, they’ll fancy their chances of finishing on 7 points. A win for Arsenal and Standard on the final day will see both of them go through.
AZ Alkmaar play Standard Liege in the final game and a win – highly unlikely – will see them playing in the Europa League.
Prediction: [CL: Arsenal, Olympiacos. EL: Standard Liege]