Final match day sets up Champions League drama

Monday, December 4th, 2017

By Andrew Ryan

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There's just one match day left in the Champions League, and the stage is set for some real drama across the entire continent.

Manchester United hasn't formally won Group A yet, but barring a huge turn of events, it'll be fine. The Red Devils have 12 points and need to avoid losing to CSKA Moscow at home by more than four goals to get into the knockout rounds. FC Basel is in good shape as well. The Swiss side needs three points at a Benfica team that doesn't have a point in its first five matches and has been outscored 12-1 in the process, or CSKA Moscow could get beaten by the Red Devils.

Halfway down the table in Group D, Juventus can join Barcelona in the Round of 16 with a win over Olympiacos. The Greek side only has one point in five matches and has been eliminated already from European competition. Should Juventus slip up, the door will be open for Sporting Lisbon to ultimately get into the knockout rounds. That said, Sporting has to go to the Nou Camp to take on Barcelona in the last UCL match in Group D, and getting anything positive in that fixture is virtually impossible.

Maybe the most interesting group left is Group E. Liverpool is in the last 16 at this point. The Reds aren't mathematically in yet, but they have a seven-goal advantage against Spartak Moscow and three points in hand as well. Liverpool would have to lose at Anfield to Spartak by at least four goals to be put into peril, and even then, Sevilla would have to beat Maribor. The Spanish side is going to be scoreboard watching during its match in Slovenia, but snaring all three points here would remove any doubt about advancing.

Shakhtar Donetsk and Napoli are fighting for the second spot in the knockout rounds from Group F. The Ukrainian side has the advantage right now with nine points in five matches against the six for Napoli. Napoli, though, has a real opportunity here. The team has to beat Feyenoord, a team that doesn't have a point in five matches thus far. Shakhtar Donetsk has a huge home match with Manchester City that is certainly winnable. The hosts need a point to get through, but if the Group F winners take all three, the door will swing open for Napoli.

Group G is down to one slot, too, and there is a slew of possible combinations that could be in story.

RB Leipzig is currently behind FC Porto going into the last match day, but the two teams are separated by just two goals. Leipzig needs a better result against Besiktas than Porto gets against eliminated Monaco, or it needs to pick up three goals in differential. Both teams are at home, and there will be plenty of nervous fans who are spending as much time paying attention to what's going on at their own venue but across Europe, too.

The rest of the Champions League is decided at this point.

PSG and Bayern Munich advancing as the winner and runner-up in Group B. The only question left there is whether the French side can finish with a perfect record. The match against Bayern Munich on the road is a big mental match for the Reds to get over this hump, but in actuality, it's a duel that means nothing.

Chelsea and Roma are going to advance from Group C. Atletico Madrid can still get through if it wins at Stamford Bridge and Roma loses at home against Qarabag. The chances of that happening, though, are virtually nil.

Manchester City and Besiktas have advanced through their groups as winners. Tottenham will win Group H with a point or better against APOEL or if Real Madrid drops points to Borussia Dortmund at home.

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