Forecasting Each Bundesliga Team's Chances of Champions League Progress

Clark WhitneyFeatured ColumnistOctober 24, 2013

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 02:  Pep Guardiola, Muenchen coach, gives instructions during the UEFA Champions League Group D match between Manchester City and FC Bayern Muenchen at Etihad Stadium on October 2, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

The third matchday of the Champions League group stage was generally good for Bundesliga teams, with Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen all recording impressive results. Schalke were the odd team out, but despite their loss to Chelsea the Gelsenkirchen side remain in position to qualify for the knockout rounds.

In fact, all four Bundesliga representatives stand in the top two in their respective groups and would advance if results hold.

Never before have four Bundesliga teams qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League in the same season. A year ago, all seven German clubs represented in international competitions progressed past the group stage. But because Borussia Monchengladbach lost their playoff, instead of progressing in the Champions League they moved on in the Europa League.

The Bundesliga appears set for another strong season on Europe's grandest stage, but there still remains much to be done. Read on for a team-by-team assessment of the performance of Germany's Champions League teams and analysis of how likely they are to progress.

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Bayern Munich (1st in Group D)

ResultsStill to be Played
Bayern 3-0 CSKA MoscowViktoria Plzen (a)
Manchester City 1-3 BayernCSKA Moscow (a)
Bayern 5-0 Viktoria PlzenManchester City (h)

With a perfect nine points from three games, 11 scored and just one conceded, Bayern are cruising through Group D. In other circumstances, Manchester City being just three points behind might be a bit of a concern for group leaders at the halfway mark.

But given the way the Bavarians manhandled City at the Etihad earlier this month, it's hard to see any result that doesn't involve Pep Guardiola's side topping their group.

Bayern have scored three or more goals in every match, have never trailed and have only been on level terms for 35 minutes over their three matches. Incredibly, all this has been done in the absence of Javi Martinez and Thiago Alcantara and with Mario Goetze having played just 36 minutes due to injuries.

Bayern face visits to Plzen and Moscow in their next two rounds, but shouldn't be too intimidated given their utter dominance of both teams at the Allianz Arena. By the time they host City in the final matchday, Bayern may well have already won their group.

If not, they will have nothing to fear.

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Borussia Dortmund (2nd in Group F)

ResultsStill to be Played
Napoli 2-1 DortmundArsenal (h)
Dortmund 3-0 MarseilleNapoli (h)
Arsenal 1-2 DortmundMarseille (a)

Dortmund had perhaps the worst imaginable start to their Champions League campaign.

A blight of injuries preceded their visit to Napoli, and early on they found themselves down a goal, a man and a coach. Everything that could go wrong did, aside from a fortuitous own goal that came far too late to have any significant effect.

BVB were without the suspended Roman Weidenfeller for a match and without coach Jurgen Klopp for the next two fixtures. And they were three points behind heavy hitters Napoli and Arsenal in the so-called "Group of Death."

BVB have since turned around their fortunes, comfortably dispatching Marseille 3-0 at home before grinding out an impressive 2-1 win away to Arsenal. They now stand level on points with the Gunners and Napoli, although formally second based on complicated tie-breaking criteria.

There still is a long way to go, but Dortmund have the best possible schedule: They face Arsenal and Napoli at home before visiting Marseille in a match in which the French may have nothing to play for. BVB have a very realistic chance of winning their group but must be wary: A loss in either of their next two fixtures and they may be facing elimination.

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Bayer Leverkusen (2nd in Group A)

ResultsStill to be Played
Manchester United 4-2 LeverkusenShakhtar Donetsk (a)
Leverkusen 2-1 Real SociedadManchester United (h)
Leverkusen 4-0 Shakhtar DonetskReal Sociedad (a)

Leverkusen were drawn into a very difficult group, but at the halfway mark have managed a second-place standing. They were punished for wasting a good spell of play in their first matchday against Manchester United, then fortuitously took three points from Real Sociedad at the death as Jens Hegeler scored an improbable wonder-goal.

The Werkself turned over a new leaf in the third matchday as they hammered Shakhtar 4-0 at the BayArena. With Stefan Kiessling having finally had a good game on the international stage and Lars Bender approaching match fitness, there is reason for Leverkusen to feel confident.

But still there is much to be done.

Leverkusen face a difficult trip to Ukraine in their next match before hosting a vulnerable yet clinical United. Sociedad may have nothing to play for in the final matchday, but the Spaniards have played much better than their record of three losses in as many games may suggest and will be dangerous in any circumstances.

Leverkusen will need at least one win from their final three matches in order to qualify, but there will be no easy fixture. On the other hand, should they win in Donetsk, Leverkusen will have a real chance of finishing as group winners.

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Schalke (2nd in Group E)

ResultsStill to be Played
Schalke 3-0 SteauaChelsea (a)
Basel 0-1 SchalkeSteaua (a)
Schalke 0-3 ChelseaBasel (h)

The eternally volatile Schalke have shown their good, bad and ugly sides already in this season's Champions League. They were dominant in their 3-0 opening-day win against Steaua. They were poor away to Basel but showed grit as Julian Draxler netted the winner and their defense held firm to the final whistle.

But their performance at home against Chelsea was downright ugly: Despite having the majority of territory and possession, they were toothless in front of goal and shambolic in defense as the English side won 3-0.

Schalke have a very strong team but injuries have taken a toll.

Klass-Jan Huntelaar is unlikely to play before 2014, and Kevin-Prince Boateng's persistent knee problems have left him out of top physical condition. And coach Jens Keller is still yet to inspire confidence in his ability to lead his team at the highest level.

The Knappen face Chelsea next at Stamford Bridge, a fixture from which they cannot expect to take much. In all likelihood, they will need to beat Steaua in Bucharest and at least hold Basel to a draw at home in their final matchday if they are to advance.

It's a tough but manageable task for a Schalke side that has the quality to reach the quarterfinals or beyond, yet could easily fail to qualify for the knockout rounds.

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