For many teams in the Champions League this year, this could well turn out to be the week that they look back on as the defining moment in their quest for European glory.
It might have been a stunning victory or a heart-breaking loss, but either way, this week was without a doubt the biggest of the tournament so far, and will have huge ramifications on the remainder of the competition this season.
How did the results this week in the Champions League shape group standings and teams' chances at qualification to the knockout rounds? Read on and find out.
|Paris St Germain||3||0||1||+8||9|
|FC Dynamo Kyiv||1||1||2||-2||4|
|GNK Dinamo Zagreb||0||0||4||-10||0|
Porto booked their qualification through to the knockout stages with a draw away from home against Dynamo Kyiv. They play group battlers Dynamo Zagreb in Portugal next week, and can wrap up the top spot in the group (depending on other results) with a result away from home against PSG in the final week.
Paris St. Germain
PSG look set to book their place in the round of 16—needing just a point from their upcoming match against Dynamo Kyiv to ensure their qualification. Their 4-0 win over Dynamo Zagreb gave them an important edge over Porto in terms of goal difference, but it should not matter in terms of winning the top spot; that will come down to their clash in the final week of the group-stages.
With a scoreless draw at home to Porto, Dynamo Kyiv's hopes of making it into the knockout stages are all but over, with several unlikely results needing to take place for them to progress. They will need to beat PSG at home next week, as well as Zagreb on the road the week after—hoping that Porto can also beat the French club to sneak them into the top two.
The tournament is over for the Croatian side, who now play two meaningless fixtures against Porto (away) and Dynamo Kyiv (home) over the next two weeks. They have not earned a point all tournament, or even scored a single goal—giving them at least something to chase in their final two matches before bowing out of the competition.
Predicted to progress: Porto, Paris St. Germain
Schalke clawed their way back to a 2-2 draw against Arsenal to retain the top spot of Group B and keep them in firm control of their qualification dreams. A win against Olympiacos next week would ensure their progression through to the knockout rounds.
After being demolished at the Emirates Stadium last week, Arsenal did well to pick up a 2-2 draw away to the German side, but will perhaps be ruing the opportunity they let slip after having a two-goal lead inside the opening half hour.
The Gunners could claim top spot in this group—providing they beat Montpellier and then Olympiacos, and hope that the Greek side also take points from Schalke. Alternatively, they could miss qualification all together if they drop points to Montpellier at all or Olympiacos get a draw or better against Schalke, and then beat Arsenal in their final group-stage match.
The Greek side did what they had to do with back-to-back wins over Montpellier to keep their Champions League dream alive. Two more wins would see them through to the knockout rounds, though if Montpellier can pull an upset on Arsenal, then they would only need a result in their final week against the North London club.
It's all over for Montpellier. They've found the back of the net in every match they've played in the tournament so far, but they haven't been able to find the three points they crucially needed in any of their four matches. Now they simply stand to be the whipping boys of Group B over the final two group-stage matches.
Predicted to progress: Schalke, Arsenal
|Zenit St. Petersburg||1||0||3||-4||3|
The emerging Spanish giants booked their place in the round of 16 with a 1-1 draw at the San Siro—conceding their first goal of the tournament and dropping points for the first time also. The top spot is theirs, and they will definitely be a side to watch out for in the knockout rounds.
At home, Milan picked up a 1-1 draw to a previously undefeated Malaga side, which isn't really that bad of a result. Anderlecht beating Zenit St. Petersburg was also an ideal result, for it means that the Italian giants remain in the top two of this group for the time being.
If they can win away from home to Anderlecht next week and Malaga topple Zenit, then they will progress through to the next round. A draw sees them needing a win next week and some further help from Malaga against Anderlecht, whilst a loss, well, that would put them in some serious trouble.
The Belgian side did what they had to do—win at home to Zenit—and now they'll have to do it again next week against Milan if they want to keep their qualification dreams alive. Traveling to Malaga in the final week will be near-impossible to win, so they will need other results to fall their way.
Zenit St. Petersburg
Zenit's loss to Anderlecht all but guarantees them a group-stage exit considering they still have to play Malaga and then Milan at the San Siro in the tournament. Neither will provide easy matches for the Russian club, who have failed to live up to expectations in the competition this year.
Predicted to progress: Malaga, AC Milan
The German champions continued to show their strength in the Champions League, almost toppling Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and finishing with a 2-2 draw for their efforts. They are through to the knockout stages, thanks to Ajax's draw with City, and are definitely the team to beat at this point in time.
Madrid deserve credit for fighting back and earning a point against Dortmund—a point that should see them through to the knockout rounds. Unless they lose at home to Ajax in the final round of competition—a result that simply doesn't seem likely to occur—this team will also be through to the round of 16.
The Dutch champions were perhaps a little lucky to walk away from the Etihad Stadium with a 2-2 draw, but they will no doubt take the point. Now they need to either beat or draw against Dortmund at home (unless Manchester City beat Real Madrid) and then waltz into the Bernabeu and stop Madrid on their home ground.
Mathematically possible, but that's about it.
Very hard done by in the 2-2 draw, but those are the breaks in football—sometimes you get them and other times you don't. City now need to win both games (Real Madrid at home and Borussia Dortmund away) and hope that Ajax beat Real Madrid.
This one's barely even mathematically possible.
Predicted to progress: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid
The Ukrainian powerhouse suffered a demoralizing 3-2 defeat to Chelsea in the final seconds of their match this week, but are still in a great position to make it through to the round of 16. If the reigning European champions beat Juventus next week and Shakhtar beat Nordsjaelland then their spot is secure. If not, they'll need a draw at worst against Juventus in the final round.
The three points the Blues earned this week could turn out to be huge. They keep their spot inside the top two of the group, and stay a crucial point ahead of Juventus. They'll most likely beat Nordsjaelland in the final week at home—meaning that it all comes down to their match against the Italian giants this week. A draw sees them through as long as Shakhtar beat Juventus the following week; otherwise they'll need all three points.
Juventus did what they had to do—run up the score against Nordsjaelland at home—to keep their qualification dreams alive. They now need to win against Chelsea next week—a match they have home field advantage in—and then hold their own the week after in Ukraine against Shakhtar.
A win against Chelsea is ideal, especially if they can draw the week after. Otherwise we're playing the numbers game for a lot longer.
Another big loss this week and the tournament is over for Nordsjaelland, who have been a pleasure to watch in their maiden Champions League campaign. The only impact they can have on this competition now is how they perform against Chelsea in the final week.
Predicted to progress: Shakhtar Donetsk, Chelsea
A resounding win for the German giants over Lille puts them in a strong position for qualification—particularly given the fact they still have a home match against BATE to come. If they can draw against Valencia next week then they'll only need a draw in the final week as well; a loss next week means that they will need to beat the Belarussians in their final match.
Valencia should make it through as the winner of this group following their win 4-2 win over BATE Borisov, considering that they have a home game against Bayern and an away game against Lille to come. Even a draw against Bayern would surely see them take the top spot—assuming that they beat Lille by a couple of goals, as seems to be the norm.
With Bayern away to Valencia next week, BATE's future in the competition solely rests on that match. They themselves will most likely beat Lille, but will be hard-pressed to beat last year's runners-up in Germany on the final matchday—meaning that they need Valencia to perform strongly against Bayern. A loss by Bayern would put them level heading into their final match, which would no doubt have a strong winner takes all feel to it.
Get the ball out of the net when the other teams scores. That was Lille's main task against Bayern Munich in their 6-1 drubbing, and you feel it will be their main task away to BATE Borisov and home to Valencia in their final two matches. No chance at qualification.
Predicted to progress: Valencia, Bayern Munich
Nobody expected the Spanish powerhouse to get beaten by Celtic this week, but it won't affect their Champions League this year. It would take a minor miracle to eliminate them in the group stages including losing twice to Spartak Moscow and Benfica. Not going to happen.
Their stunning 2-1 victory over Barcelona places them in great shape to qualify now, with a result next week against Benfica able to solidify their place inside the top two. And even if they don't win next week, they are at home to Spartak Moscow in the final week whilst Benfica are on the road to Barcelona. Their place inside the top two is safe.
Celtic's victory against Barcelona was a huge blow for Benfica's qualification dreams, who now need to play the numbers game to progress through to the final 16. They'll need to beat Celtic in Portugal and then topple Barcelona in Camp Nou, all whilst hoping that Spartak Moscow can beat either Barcelona or Celtic in their two remaining matches.
The Russian side were brave in defeat to Benfica this week, and surrounded their mathematical chance at qualification in the process. All three other teams will be sweating on Spartak Moscow to pull off incredible upsets against Barcelona and/or Celtic, but the reality is that neither are likely to happen in the Champions League this year.
Predicted to progress: Barcelona, Celtic
Clubs W D L GD Pts
Manchester United 4 0 0 +5 12
Galatasaray 1 1 2 -1 4
CFR Cluj 1 1 2 -1 4
Sporting Braga 1 0 3 -3 3
Manchester United became the only team to keep their perfect winning record in the Champions League this year with a come-from-behind result against Braga. The win ensures them qualification through to the round of 16 and a shot at redeeming last year's mistakes.
The Turkish giants picked up a huge away victory over CFR Cluj this week—winning 3-1—and moved up into second place in the group as a result. They are at home to Manchester United next week; should they lose that match, they'll need a victory over Sporting Braga in the final week—unless CFR Cluj can take points off Manchester United. It all comes down to beating Braga away from home in the final week.
A surprise 3-1 loss at home has the Romanian club back in third for the time being (albeit on the same points), but with two difficult fixtures ahead. They are away to Manchester United, which is unlikely to yield any points, which means that they must beat Braga this week and hope that Braga beats Galatasaray the week before.
Despite being fourth in the group, Sporting Braga still have a real chance at qualification—partly due to the fact they have the easiest schedule remaining. They nearly took points off Manchester United this week, and having seen Galatasaray beat CFR Cluj on the road, they'll know that it is possible for them to achieve similar results.
Braga only need one win and one draw to progress, providing that Manchester United wins both matches against Galatasaray and Cluj respectively.
Predicted to progress: Manchester United, Sporting Braga
What do you make of the current Champions League group standings?
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