The race for spots in the knockout stage is heating up and few teams have their backs to the wall in this week’s slate of Champions League matches.
With just two games remaining in group play, teams like Manchester United can relax as they have already fought their way through to the next round. However, most teams are not as lucky, and a few are in serious peril of seeing their chances at advancing evaporate in their next match.
These teams will be desperate to do whatever is necessary to earn three points, and this will make for exciting fixtures this week.
Here are the teams that will have to leave everything on the pitch.
While Roberto Mancini’s men may be able to gloat about taking the top spot in the Premier League from their cross-town rivals, the two Manchester club’s positions in Europe are much different. City’s Champions League campaign is on life support, while United has an eight-point advantage in their group.
The Citizens need all three points in their next fixture in order to have any chance at advancing, and unfortunately, their opponent is Real Madrid.
The Galácticos trailed twice in the first meeting between these two clubs, but two goals in the final three minutes of the match gave them a victory.
Now, City must exact their revenge, or the crowd at Etihad stadium will be massively disappointed as their beloved side fails to make it through to the knockout stage for the second consecutive season.
The Italian champions are facing a difficult matchup with Chelsea and a defeat in this match could be catastrophic to their chances at advancing.
If Juve come away without any points, and Shakhtar Donetsk moves past a struggling FC Nordsjælland side, the Italians will be four points away from second place and their European campaign will be over.
A draw would ensure that Juventus remains alive, but they would still be in an unfavorable position. The Italians would likely need to come away with a victory over Shakhtar in Ukraine in the final round of matches in order to have a chance to advance.
While failing to earn a victory may not eliminate Juventus, it will greatly increase the chance of their Champions League season ending early.
Which side should be most disappointed if it fails to make it to the knockout stage?
At the beginning of this stage, it seemed like a forgone conclusion that Barcelona would finish first in Group G and Benfica would advance in second place. But the Portuguese club’s future in Europe is now very much in doubt.
If Benfica is unable to get a victory against a surging Celtic side, it will be eliminated from the Champions League. Even if the team earns a draw, it will need to get a victory against Barcelona at the Camp Nou in its next match in order to advance.
After the Blaugrana’s reality check against Celtic two weeks ago, the Scottish side will be filled with confidence, and it is unlikely that Barça will be giving up any more points.
Benfica has its work cut out going forward, and the team must earn three points against Celtic.