The Champions League group phase is nearing its climax, but there are still a number of issues to be decided this week, including the fates of European heavyweights Manchester United and Real Madrid.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are one of 13 teams whose Champions League futures are in the balance on matchday six, unlike Premier League rivals Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea, who have all qualified safely for the knockout stages in February.
United travel to RB Leipzig on Tuesday night knowing that a point will see them progress to the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition, while in the same group, Paris Saint-Germain still have work to do in order to qualify.
Meanwhile, 13-time winners Real are also in danger of suffering an ignominious early exit going into their final-day showdown at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday.
Here is the lowdown on who needs what to make it through to the knockout phase of the competition:
Who has already qualified?
Chelsea, Sevilla, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester City, Liverpool, Porto, Bayern Munich, and Borussia Dortmund.
Who can still qualify?
Atletico Madrid, Red Bull Salzburg, Monchengladbach, Shakhtar Donetsk, Madrid, Inter Milan, Atalanta, Ajax, Lazio, Club Brugge, United, PSG, and RB Leipzig.
- Champions League last 16: Who’s through & when is draw?
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Group A: Draw enough for Atleti
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Bayern vs Lokomotiv Moscow, Salzburg vs Atletico (8pm)
Diego Simeone’s men simply must not lose at the Red Bull Arena Salzburg to remain in the competition. If they do, they will drop into the Europa League last 32 as the third-placed team from Group A.
Salzburg will progress instead if they beat Atletico.
Bayern are through as group winners while Lokomotiv cannot progress – but would drop into the Europa League if they beat Bayern and Salzburg do not beat Atletico.
Group B: Unthinkable on the cards for Real
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid vs Monchengladbach (8pm)
This group is ever so tight, with all four teams still in with a chance of qualification heading into this week’s final round of games.
The winners of Real’s home clash with Monchengladbach will top the section, while the visitors only need a point to progress, although that will also suit Madrid, as long as Inter overcome Shakhtar at San Siro.
However, Zinedine Zidane’s side will finish bottom if both they and Shakhtar lose, an unthinkable outcome for a team who have progressed from all 24 groups they have been in during the modern era of the Champions League.
The Ukrainians, meanwhile, will progress with a win, while a draw will also suffice if Real do not win. As for Antonio Conte’s Inter side, anything but a victory will see them eliminated, and even that scenario may not be enough if Real and Monchengladbach play out a draw in the Spanish capital.
Group C: Sorted – bar third spot
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Man City vs Marseille, Olympiakos vs Porto (8pm)
Manchester City are already through as group winners, with Porto joining them as runners-up.
Olympiakos will finish third as long as Marseille do not pick up more points than they do due to their head-to-head away goals superiority
Group D: It’s must-win for Ajax
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Ajax v Atalanta, FC Midtjylland vs Liverpool (5.55pm)
Atalanta need just a point at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday to progress, whereas Ajax must beat the Italians to go through.
Liverpool are already through as group winners and Midtjylland will finish fourth regardless.
Group E: All settled!
Matchday six fixtures – Tuesday Dec 8: Chelsea vs Krasnodar, Rennes vs Sevilla (8pm)
Chelsea and Sevilla are already through to the last 16, with Frank Lampard’s side progressing as group winners after thrashing the Spaniards last time out.
Krasnodar have already sealed third and a place in the Europa League, with Rennes bottom.
Group F: Winner-takes-all showdown in Rome
Matchday six fixtures – Tuesday Dec 8: Lazio vs Brugge, Zenit St Petersburg v Dortmund (5.55pm)
Lazio host Brugge in a winner-takes-all clash, with anything but an away victory sending the Italians through. If Simone Inzaghi’s team do pick up three points, though, then Dortmund will also have to win at Zenit in order to claim top spot in the group.
Zenit will finish fourth whatever happens.
Group G: Top spot up for grabs at Nou Camp
Matchday six fixtures – Tuesday Dec 8: Barcelona vs Juventus, Dynamo Kiev vs Ferencvaros (8pm)
Barcelona will be guaranteed first place in the group, so long as they avoid losing to Juve at the Camp Nou by more than a one-goal margin after the Catalans won the first meeting 2-0.
So a 2-0 reverse would still see Barca win the section, but any other Juve victory by two goals – 3-1, 4-2 etc – would see Andrea Pirlo’s team move above their hosts.
Neither Dynamo nor Ferencvaros can reach the round of 16. To finish third, Dynamo must win or draw 0-0, 1-1 or 2-2; all other results mean Ferencvaros finish third.
Group H: It’s two from three
Matchday six fixtures – Tuesday Dec 8: PSG vs Istanbul Basaksehir, RB Leipzig vs Manchester United (8pm)
This is complicated! United will qualify with a draw in Germany. A point will also be enough for them to win the group, as long as PSG do not beat Istanbul Basaksehir.
However, if the Ligue 1 champions do win in Paris, then they will top the group no matter what.
Leipzig will qualify if they beat United – or if they draw and PSG lose.
If both United and PSG lose, then it will be Thomas Tuchel’s team who advance along with Leipzig, with United dropping into the Europa League.
Istanbul Basaksehir will finish fourth.
Who could still qualify for the Europa League?
The third-placed teams all drop down into the Europa League last 32, along with Arsenal, Leicester, Tottenham and Rangers.
- Europa League last 32: Who’s through & when is the draw?
Group A: Salzburg or Atletico or Lokomotiv
Group B: Monchengladbach, Shakhtar, Real or Inter
Group C: Olympiacos or Marseille
Group D: Atalanta or Ajax
Group E: Krasnodar
Group F: Lazio or Brugge
Group G: Kiev or Ferencvaros
Group H: United, PSG or Leipzig
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