Atletico in need of luck to avoid premature exit
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE TALKING POINTS
Eight places in the Champions League’s last 16 are still up for grabs heading into the last round of group games.
Three of the traditional heavyweights — Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Bayern Munich — are already through, as are former champions Chelsea as well as Paris Saint-germain and Manchester City. Tottenham and Besiktas complete the set of current qualifiers.
But there remains plenty to resolve... ATLETICO IN DANGER
Atletico Madrid need a lot to happen to keep alive their streak of four consecutive appearances in the knockout stage. Diego Simeone’s team, twice finalists in the last four years, must beat Chelsea away and need Roma to draw or lose against Azerbaijani team Qarabag at home. Atletico didn’t win any of their first four matches in Group C. Among the setbacks were back-to-back draws against Qarabag.
Sevilla are in a much more comfortable position and can reach the last 16 for the second straight season with a draw at Maribor tomorrow. Sevilla can win Group E with a win if Liverpool fails to defeat Spartak Moscow at home.
AN ENGLISH SWEEP?
The Premier League is already assured of having two group winners in the last 16, through Manchester City and Tottenham. By tomorrow, it could have five. Tonight Manchester United need just a point at home to CSKA Moscow to seal first place in Group A, and already qualified Chelsea can finish top of Group C by beating Atletico.
Tomorrow night, Liverpool can secure top spot in Group E by beating Spartak. England have never had five teams in the knockout stage of the Champions League.
Germany’s representation in the last 16 could come down to just one team, Bayern Munich, after disappointing campaigns from the Bundesliga’s best — Borussia Dortmund in particular. Dortmund, who reached the final in 2013, are already out after failing to win any of their group games. They are now competing with Cypriots APOEL for the consolation of Europa League qualification from Group H. Ahead of Dortmund’s visit to Real Madrid tomorrow, the Germans are level with APOEL on two points.
Leipzig are still in with a chance to progress on their European debut but need a favour from Monaco at Porto in Group G. Leipzig, level on points with Porto, host group winner Besiktas tomorrow and must better Porto’s result.
Bayern host Paris Saint-germain tonight needing to win by a four-goal margin to progress as Group B winner. PSG beat Bayern 3-0 in Paris and have a far superior goal difference. Germany’s fourth team, Hoffenheim, didn’t make the group stage after losing in the play-offs to Liverpool. EXTENDING THE RECORD
After putting seven goals past Celtic two weeks ago in Group B, PSG and its impressive offensive armada of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Edinson Cavani will also try to improve what is already a tournament record of 24 goals in this season’s group stage.
PSG are seeking a sixth straight group win and to rebound from a shock 2-1 loss to promoted Strasbourg in the French league.