With plenty of exciting action taking place in the Champions League last night, expectations will be high for tonight as well. And by the looks of it, there’s little chance for fans to be disappointed, with so much at stake across all four groups.
The group of death is proving to be just that for Manchester City yet again. Picking up only 2 points from a possible 9 is unacceptable for the reigning English champions surely. With 2 more home matches to come, City have a sliver of an advantage to pull ahead of their closest rival Roma (who only have 1 home match left) for that last automatic spot into the round of 16. The Italians will host the Sky Blues in the final group game of the competition. But before that, they have to salvage some pride at the Allianz first, and then avoid making the same mistakes City made when they played CSKA Moscow in Russia. As for the Bavarian giants, 1 point against Roma should see them cruise into the next round. At the rate they’re going, UEFA might as well just give them a free pass all the way to the final and prevent their future opponents from further embarrassment.
Group F looks likely to end up with PSG and Barcelona going through, unless Ajax can capitalise on Barca’s La Liga loss over the weekend. The last time Barca lost consecutive league matches was in 2009. So the situation they find themselves in at the moment is a rare one, whatever the reason might be. It would throw a spanner in the works for the Catalans’ European campaign and perhaps even the season, livening up this rather one-sided group.
Speaking of one-sided groups, Chelsea and Schalke find themselves in one too. They’re both undefeated in Europe to-date because Maribor and Sporting have yet to muster much of a challenge. The only attraction from this group will be on Matchday 5 as the only manager to guide Chelsea to European glory, Roberto Di Matteo will welcome his former team to the Gelsenkirchen. By then, both clubs would have firmly sealed their places in the next round, barring any major meltdowns.
Unfortunately for group H, there are no glitzy teams present. No Real Madrid, no PSG, no Chelsea. So, less attention is paid to their matches in this stage. That being said, Porto and Shakhtar are poised to sail through following convincing results throughout the competition so far. It’s not too late for Athletic Bilbao or BATE but they will need to collect maximum points from all their remaining matches for a chance. BATE’s disadvantage is in the goals conceded column, having seen 13 goals fly past them against Porto and Shakhtar respectively. They’re unlikely to score 13 in their remaining matches but stranger things have happened.
All in all, at this point of the competition, we can definitely expect at least 2 major teams losing out on the next round of Europe’s most lucrative competition. Question is, will it be a club from the Serie A or the Premier League? Only time will tell…