Champions League: Real Madrid on the verge of first-ever group stage exit; all scenarios explained
UEFA Champions League reaches a crucial final matchday in the group stage with fates of Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid and Manchester United still unclear.
Champions League group stage reaches its final leg this matchday with nine teams already through to the last-16. That leaves seven spots still available for clubs all around Europe including record 13-time champions Real Madrid, three-time champions Inter Milan and Manchester United, three-time finalists Atletico Madrid, last year's finalist Paris Saint-Germain.
Let's look at how things stand after five matchdays in European football's premier club football competition:
Qualified for Champions League last-16:
Group A: Bayern Munich*
Group C: Manchester City*, Porto
Group D: Liverpool*
Group E: Chelsea*, Sevilla
Group F: Borussia Dortmund
Group G: Barcelona, Juventus
* designates table toppers from the respective group.
Still in contention for a place in Round of 16:
Group A: Atlético, Salzburg
Group B: Mönchengladbach, Shakhtar, Real Madrid, Inter
Group D: Atalanta, Ajax
Group F: Lazio, Club Brugge
Group H: Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Leipzig
Assured to finish third and play the Europa League Round of 32:
Group E: Krasnodar
Teams that won't progress to last-16 of Champions League:
Group A: Lokomotiv Moskva
Group C: Olympiacos, Marseille
Group D: Midtjylland
Group E: Rennes
Group F: Zenit
Group G: Dynamo Kyiv, Ferencváros
Group H: İstanbul Başakşehir
Bayern (13 points) vs Lokomotiv Moscow (3 points), Salzburg (4 points) vs Atletico Madrid (6 points)
Defending champions Bayern Munich are already through to the last-16 and Lokomotiv Moscow will not be moving forward even if they pick up a surprise win. But the Russian club can finish third and play in the Europa League provided Salzburg don't beat Atletico Madrid. For the Spaniards, a draw would be enough to progress and for Salzburg, a win is necessary. Simply put, Atletico Madrid go through if they don't lose.
Real Madrid (7) vs Borussia Mönchengladbach (8), Inter (5) vs Shakhtar (7)
In Group B, all four teams can progress and it is surprising it has come to this in a group of Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Zinedine Zidane-led Real are on the brink of a huge upset if they don't progress: they've never failed to move past the group stage in Champions League history, i.e. 25 years. Before losing in last season’s Round of 16, Madrid had reached at least the semifinals for eight straight seasons, winning the title four times in this period.
Borussia Mönchengladbach top the table with 8 points, Real Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk have 7 points each and Inter Milan stayed in contention with a win on last matchday to move to five points.
"Were going through a bit of a tough spell lately," Zidane said after the win at Sevilla on the weekend. "The recent days have been difficult, (but) this team is full of character. It thrives on challenges and this win is hugely important for what is to come."
Mönchengladbach travel to Alfredo di Stefano Stadium and can go through if they avoid a loss or if Shakhtar draw with Inter. If the German club win, they progress and top the table. However it turns out, Mönchengladbach will continue in European competition albeit in the Europa League.
Shakhtar will progress with a win at the San Siro or if both games end in draws. Shakhtar can top the group with a win and if Mönchengladbach don't get all 3 points. The Ukrainian club can finish fourth if they lose and Madrid don't lose.
Real Madrid have multiple scenarios of scraping through. If they beat Mönchengladbach, or if they draw and Shakhtar lose to Inter. Madrid can top the group if they win and Shakhtar don't. Zidane's job will come under serious threat if they and Shakhtar both lose to finish bottom of the table.
Inter Milan were all but out last matchday but kept themselves in it with a win at Mönchengladbach. The Italians will progress if they beat Shakhtar and the other game doesn't end in a draw. Antonio Conte's men will finish fourth if they don't get all 3 points.
Olympiacos (3) vs Porto (10), Manchester City (13) vs Marseille (3)
Manchester City and Porto are already assured of a place in the next round as group winners and runners-up respectively. Olympiacos and Marseille need a better result than the other to move to Europa League.
Ajax (7) vs Atalanta (8), Midtjylland (1) vs Liverpool (12)
Liverpool are already through and it is between Ajax and Atalanta for the other entry from this group. Atalanta will go through if they avoid a defeat while Ajax will progress with a win.
Chelsea (13 points) vs Krasnodar (4), Rennes (1) vs Sevilla (10)
With four wins and a draw, Chelsea are through to the last-16. Joining them from Group E are last year's Europa League winners Sevilla. Krasnodar are confirmed to finish third and head to the Europa League with Rennes finishing fourth.
Lazio (9) vs Club Brugge (7), Zenit (1) vs Dortmund (10)
Borussia Dortmund are already into the last-16 and they can top the group with a win, or if both games are drawn or if Lazio lose to Brugge. Lazio will progress if they avoid a defeat by Club Brugge and can top the table if they win and Dortmund don't or if Lazio draw and Dortmund lose. Club Brugge have it simple: win and they progress. Zenit are only playing for pride with their only point coming after a draw with Lazio.
Barcelona (15) vs Juventus (12), Dynamo Kyiv (1) vs Ferencváros (1)
Ronaldo vs Messi at last. The marquee player clash was missed in the first leg due to Cristiano testing COVID-19 positive. But it could well happen this time at Camp Nou. Both Barcelona and Juventus are through to the last-16 but the Italians can overtake the top spot with a comprehensive win: three goals or more or a two-goal margin which is other than 2-0. Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencváros are going to face off for a place in the Europa League.
Paris Saint-Germain (9) vs İstanbul Başakşehir (3), Leipzig (9) vs Manchester United (9)
Like Group B, this group is also very open going into the last game. PSG, Leipzig and Manchester United are all on nine points. PSG are expected to win and clinch one of the two qualification places from this group against Istanbul who are destined to finish bottom.
United need to avoid a loss at Leipzig to progress and can top if they avoid a defeat and PSG don't beat Başakşehir. PSG need to avoid a defeat and can even scrape by with a loss provided the other game isn't a draw. Leipzig will progress with a win, or if they draw and PSG lose to Başakşehir.
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