We are now at the final matchday of the Group Stages of the Champions League and at the moment, we know that nine teams have already confirmed their place in the next stage of the competition, the knockout phase which begins in the New Year. That means that on this final round of matches a further seven teams will earn their place alongside them, while the eight teams that finish in third place in each group will earn qualification to the Europa League Knockout phase also in the new year.

So this week sees a real mix of games in the Champions League with a number of ‘dead rubbers’ where teams already eliminated or already qualified will clash (such as Midtjylland v Liverpool) alongside a number of huge games which will decide which of the teams competing makes it through, and which does not.

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Let’s now take a look at the current situation in the Champions League as well as the key games coming up this week that will decide who makes it through from each group to join the teams already qualified for the Knockout Phase which starts next year.

Champions League Current Scenario – After Matchday 5

After the fifth matchday in the Champions League, the following teams have confirmed their qualification to the knockout phase of the tournament. If a team has won the group and earned a seeded spot in the Round of 16 draw, this is also indicated below.

  • Group A – Bayern Munich (Group Winners)
  • Group C – Manchester City (Group Winners), FC Porto
  • Group D – Liverpool (Group Winners)
  • Group E – Chelsea (Group Winners), Sevilla
  • Group F – Borussia Dortmund
  • Group G – Barcelona, Juventus

As you can see, there is still plenty to be decided in most groups and in those where two teams have qualified, there is still a battle for who finishes third in most cases (apart from Group E).

Let’s now take a look at the huge games coming up this week that will decide which teams qualify alongside those listed above for the Knockout Phase next year.

Tuesday 8th December

Kick off times listed are 8pm unless otherwise indicated and we have focused on games that will affect who qualifies for the Champions League knockout stage (or in what position in their group) next season. There are other games that will determine who finishes third in some groups, thus qualifying for the Europa League knockout phase in the new year.

Group F

  • Zenit St Petersburg v Borussia Dortmund (5.55pm)
  • Lazio v Club Brugge (5.55pm)

The two early kick offs on Tuesday will resolve events in Group F, where at the moment, Dortmund lead the table. The really decisive game here is the Lazio v Club Brugge game which will decide who qualifies from the group alongside Dortmund. A win or draw for Lazio would see them through, while Brugge need to beat the Italians to pip them to a qualification spot. The outcome of the Lazio v Brugge game will also decide who finishes third in the group.

Dortmund are already through, but need a win to be certain of finishing top of the group from their trip to Zenit, who have surprisingly been the whipping boys of the group.

Tips – Back Dortmund to nab the win (8/11) and Lazio to claim the victory (also 8/11)

Group G

  • Barcelona v Juventus
  • Dynamo Kyiv v Ferencvaros

The big issue in Group G is not so much who will win the group, Barcelona only need to avoid losing by a 3-0 scoreline or worse at home to Juventus, to be assured of topping the group, but who will finish third with Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencvaros both on a point apiece, so it is very much winner takes all in that game for a place in the Europa League after Christmas.

The Barcelona v Juventus game may be a bit of a let down as I think both teams may rest players for the game having already qualified and as such, when that happens, I always feel the home team has the advantage and in the other game, I also feel Kyiv on home soil will have just enough to claim the win they need.

Tips – Back Barcelona to win (11/10) and Kyiv (5/6) to claim the win to land 3rd place in the group.

Group H

  • Paris St Germain v Istanbul Basaksehir
  • Red Bull Leipzig v Manchester United

This is the most intriguing Group on Tuesday night. For PSG the maths is simple, a win against bottom placed Istanbul Basaksehir at home would be enough for them to progress and also win the group regardless of the result in the other game. I think it is a pretty much nailed on certainty that PSG will indeed win that game.

The other game is where the the interest in this group is. Manchester United are in the driving seat having beaten Leipzig 5-0 at Old Trafford and they just need a point or better to be assured of qualifying. Leipzig will qualify with a win, or if they draw and PSG lose to Istanbul Basaksehir, which looks very unlikely. So I expect this game to be the one that defines the shape of the group as well as deciding who gets the consolation prize of a Europa League spot in the new year.

Tips – PSG look a very easy selection to win (1/10) and with Man Utd’s away form so good, I’d back them to get the point they need at 11/4.

Wednesday 9th December

Group D

  • Ajax v Atalanta (5.55pm)

Liverpool have already claimed top spot in this group, so this game will decide who joins them in the next phase. Atalanta hold a lead of one point over Ajax so a draw or better would suit them, while Ajax need to win this game. The teams drew 2-2 when they met in Bergamo on Matchday 2 in what was an open and entertaining game and I think that is what we will get once again here

Tip – This is a tough one to call but I am backing Atalanta to claim the point they need (14/5).

Group A

  • Red Bull Salzburg v Atletico Madrid

It is quite surprising to see Atletico struggling to qualify from this group as I expected them to come through with Bayern relatively easily. However they now need a point or better from this tricky trip to Salzburg to ensure they progress. Atletico won the reverse fixture 3-2 at home thanks to a late strike from Joao Felix.

Red Bull played very well in this game and while I think they will avoid defeat at home, I just think Atletico’s added experience will be the difference here and ensure that they are the ones joining Bayern in the next round.

Tip – Atletico rarely let you down when the chips are down and I am backing them to pick up the point they need to progress here (27/10)

Group B

  • Real Madrid v Borussia Monchengladbach
  • Inter Milan v Shakhtar Donetsk

Group B is the most interesting group as any of the four teams can qualify. A win for Real and Borussia will ensure that they qualify, while a draw will ensure both teams qualify, if Inter Milan beat Shakhtar Donetsk. However, if Shakhtar win, and Real and Borussia draw, Real would only qualify for the Europa League.

There so many permutations in this group that things will change as the games progress on the night and in short, each team knows that a win (or in Borussia’s case, a draw) will be enough for them to progress into the next round, although for Inter, they may also need a specific result in the other game for them to progress.

Tips: Back Real Madrid (3/4) and Inter Milan (2/7) to show their quality and claim the wins here.

*All odds shown were correct with bet365 Sport as of 9am on Monday 7th December 2020.