Champions League Groups E-H take centre stage Wednesday, with nine teams still in contention for the remaining five spots in the knock-out stages.
Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Barcelona have already advanced to the round of 16, but the latter two still have work to do if they’re to secure top spot.
Here’s a look at some predictions for Wednesday’s encounters before we breakdown the various scenarios in each group.
|Group||Fixture||Date, K/O Time||Prediction|
|E||Schalke vs. Basel||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||2-1|
|E||Chelsea vs. Steaua||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||3-0|
|F||Marseille vs. Dortmund||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||1-3|
|F||Napoli vs. Arsenal||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||1-1|
|G||Austria Wien vs. Zenit||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||1-2|
|G||Atletico vs. Porto||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||2-1|
|H||AC Milan vs. Ajax||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||2-1|
|H||Barcelona vs. Celtic||Dec. 11, 19:45 GMT/14:45 ET||4-0|
Schedule via premierleague.com
In contention: Schalke, Basel
Predicted top 2: Chelsea, Schalke
Chelsea will be expected to finish top of Group E when they host Steaua Bucharest at Stamford Bridge. The Romanian side have not won in 22 Champions League outings—per UEFA—and were on the receiving end of a 4-0 drubbing at home to the Blues.
Jose: 'I think we are the best team in the group and we have to prove that tomorrow by finishing first.' #CFC— Chelsea FC (@chelseafc) December 10, 2013
With Chelsea looking like Group winners and Steaua out of touch in fourth, Basel and Schalke, who sit on eight and seven points respectively, will battle it out in Germany for the remaining qualification spot.
Schalke got the better of Basel in Switzerland on Matchday 2 and they will be expecting a similar outcome when they clash in front of their home support at the Veltins-Arena.
Qualified: No teams
In contention: Arsenal, Napoli, Borussia Dortmund
Predicted top 2: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund
Arsenal currently sit top of Group F with Napoli and Dortmund tied for second with nine points each.
A win or a draw would see Arsenal advance, which would also pave the way for Dortmund to finish second if they can overcome Marseille on the road.
If Dortmund win, the Italian side will need to see off Arsenal by three clear goals to secure their passage to the next round.
Stranger things have happened but it’s difficult to see Napoli advancing.
After a promising start to the season, Rafa Benitez’s men have struggled of late. Their last five games have resulted in three defeats and one draw—including a 1-0 loss at home to Parma—and they have also conceded 12 goals in that period.
Qualified: Atletico Madrid
In contention: Zenit, Porto
Predicted top 2: Atletico Madrid, Zenit
Atletico cruised into the round of 16, scoring 13 goals and conceding just three in their opening five games.
The La Liga outfit host Porto on Matchday 6, with the Portuguese side looking to leapfrog Zenit, who sit one point above them in Group G.
If Zenit are to advance, they will need to better or equal Porto’s result when they take on Austria Wien at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion. If both sides finish on the same points then Zenit will advance due to their superior head-to-head record.
Zenit have struggled for goals this campaign, scoring just four in their five games, but they will be expected to come through against Austria Wien. The Austrian outfit have yet to pick up a point at home in the Champions League this season and they have nothing to play for on Matchday 6.
In contention: AC Milan, Ajax
Predicted top 2: Barcelona, AC Milan
With Barcelona entertaining Celtic at Camp Nou, the battle for the second qualification spot will be a straight shoot-out between AC Milan and Ajax at the San Siro.
The Italian side currently sit second on eight points, with Ajax in third on seven.
The Dutch side stayed in contention with a dramatic win over Barcelona on Matchday 5, but they will face an uphill task in Italy.
Milan may not have gotten their 2013/14 season off to a great start, but it’s difficult to envision a side of their quality bowing out in the group stages, particularly at home.
Ajax have lost both their away games in Group H. They fell 4-0 away to Barcelona and 2-1 against Celtic in Glasgow.