Atletico in need of luck to avoid pre­ma­ture exit

Irish Examiner - Sport - - SOCCER -


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.


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.

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