As the UEFA Champions League group stage finally reaches it’s last round, some of Europe‘s finest clubs are awaiting the outcome of not only their results, but others as the group positions change for the final time this season.
With 13 teams already through to the last 16, several clubs, including last years champions, Chelsea, still have it all to play for over the coming days. With 1st place in a group playing the 2nd place teams of other groups in the next round, some are striving to top their groups to get the supposedly, easier draw. Whilst a 3rd place finish will enable clubs to play in the Europa League, rather than dropping out of Europe completely like the 4th placed sides. So, how does… qualify for the next round?
2004 winners, FC Porto are already through with French giants, PSG. But with 1 point between them, their final game vs one another will decide who goes through as group winners.
Dynamo Kiev have already secured third, so their game vs Croatian side, Dinamo Zagreb, is effectively pointless.
Arsenal, who are already through have their fate regarding a 1st or 2nd finish partially in their own hands. A win away at Greek side, Olympiakos would see them top the group if German 2011 semi-finalists Schalke slip up away at Montpellier.
The french champions, Montpellier sit bottom of the group with the Greeks confirmed in 3rd.
An impressive group stage from Spanish side Malaga secured their postion at the top of the group, ahead of 7 time compeition winners, AC Milan.
The Italian side host Zenit St Petersburg, who are level on points with Anderlecht who travel to Malaga. Who ever betters one another results between Zenit and Malaga will win the Europa League spot.
Malaga‘s recent financial troubles have meant UEFA will keep the £20 million ($32 million) prize money they would have received.
Premier League champions, Manchester City‘s poor group stage means their hopes of European glory this season are now limited to the Europa League.
City require 4th placed Ajax, a point behind, to lose away at Real Madrid and hope they can better Ajax‘s result away at group winner, Borussia Dortmund. Real Madrid have also secured qualification in 2nd.
Chelsea‘s last 16 hopes now rest in the balance after a struggling European campaign so far. The European champions’ only hope is if Juventus lose away at Shakhtar Donetsk – even then, Chelsea must beat bottom side Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge.
If Juventus draw at Shakhtar then they qualify, a win will see them top the group – with Chelsea going out.
2012’s runners up, Bayern Munich top the group, joint on points with Spanish side, Valencia. Both have secured qualification. The group winners position will be decided on their final results.
Belarusian side, BATE Borisov have secured 3rd place, so they will play in the Europa League next year, whilst bottom side Lille are out.
Scottish champions, Celtic‘s fate is on a knife edge despite their heroics throughout the group stage. Celtic need to better 2nd placed Benfica‘s result away at Barcelona – who have already won the group. Celtic host the already eliminated Spartak Moscow at Park Head. What ever the outcome Celtic will be playing in Europe in 2013 with the Europa League a certain consolation.
3 time European champions, Manchester United won group H with two games to spare. Galatasary and Cluj are level on points, with the former in 2nd due to their head to head results. Galatasary travel to already knocked out Braga. Cluj must better Galatasary‘s result to remain in the competition.
Stowe Gregory @stowegregory