Champions League Notes & Preview

Qualification for 8 of the last 16 spots in the Champions League comes down to the final match day.

Group A

Bordeaux secured first place in the group with Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat of Juventus but second is up for grabs with everything to play for in Torino on December 8. Bayern Munich needs an away win to go through after closing within a point of Juventus with a 1-0 victory over Maccabi Haifa. The pressure will be on Juve and Ciro Ferrara, as a Europa League berth would be considered a catastrophy. Bayern’s mission is clear, as only a win will see them through. Prediction: Neither team is playing great at the moment, but Juve should be able to squeeze a point at home and move on. Bayern will be resigned to the consequences of earlier setbacks. Juventus – Bayern 1-1, Juve will progress.

Group B

Wolfsburg missed a golden opportunity, leading at half-time in Moscow against CSKA, but a 2-1 defeat means their advantage over the Russian side is now just a superior head-to-head record. However, to finish second CSKA still need to pick up more points at Besiktas than Wolfsburg manage at home to Manchester United. A win would see Wolfsburg through, as would a loss for the Russian side. United, already qualified, still need a point to guarantee first place. Besiktas retain hopes of a UEFA Europa League berth; should they beat CSKA by better than 2-1 and Wolfsburg gain at least a point at home to United they will secure it. Prediction: Wolfsburg and Man United will draw, as will Besiktas and CSKA Moscow. Wolfsburg will take second place.

Group C

Real Madrid is on top and can only be denied progress with a 3-0 loss or worse at Olympique de Marseille, and AC Milan beat Zurich. Milan, two points behind Madrid but one ahead of Marseille, go through with a victory in Zurich. Marseille must beat Madrid to have any chance of progress as their head-to-head record is inferior to Milan, and should the Italian side win, OM would need to prevail by 3-0 or better. If Milan win and Madrid draw, the Italians would finish top on head-to-head record. Prediction: Marseille and Milan will win 1-0, meaning Madrid and Milan go through.

Group D

Only the Europa League berth is undecided after Atlético Madrid drew 1-1 at APOEL to remain a point ahead in third. APOEL must win at Chelsea and hope Atlético cannot defeat Porto. Prediction: Atletico will win at home against Porto and play in Europa League in the spring.

Group E

Fiorentina is in the final 16, Liverpool is resigned to a Europa League place after winning 1-0 at Debrecen. The top spot in the group remains in play. Prediction: Fiorentina will not win at Anfield to secure the top spot, as Liverpool will be out to avenge the loss in Florence that effectively killed their prospects; Lyon will claim it by defeating Debrecen.

Group F

Complicated group with many scenarios possible. Inter and Rubin Kazan are two points behind Barcelona, with Dinamo Kiev one further back. All four can still progress, although Barça can afford to lose by two goals, other than 2-0, at Dinamo. Kiev must win 2-0 or by three goals to ensure progress, unless Inter and Rubin draw in which case any victory would be enough. Inter and Rubin both need a win to advance, though if Dynamo do not pick up maximum points, a 0-0 or 1-1 draw would do for Inter, and any other draw would take Rubin through. Prediction: Dinamo Kiev will not beat Barca, enabling Inter to take second with a 1-1 draw. Critical missions for Barca and Inter, Rubin will play in Europa League.

Group G

A first home win in UEFA competition, 1-0 against already-qualified Sevilla, has put debutants Unirea Urziceni on the brink of the last 16. Two points behind Sevilla in second but two ahead of Stuttgart, Unirea need only a draw in Germany to progress. Stuttgart must win to go through, though both they and Unirea are at least ensured an Europa League slot after Rangers lost 2-0 at home to Stuttgart. Sevilla will finish first if they draw with Rangers. Prediction: Stuttgart will defeat Unirea at home and take second, Sevilla will finish first.

Group H

Arsenal’s defeat of Standard Liege, coupled with second-placed Olympiakos drawing 0-0 against eliminated AZ Alkmaar, moved the Greek side three clear of Standard. A home draw with Arsenal will send Olympiakos through, otherwise Standard would overtake them on head-to-head record by beating AZ. Out of UEFA Champions League contention, the Dutch outfit will earn a place in the Europa League place should they defeat Standard. Prediction: Olympiakos will get a point at home against Arsenal, Standard will play in Europa League.