Champions League

Five things to watch out for in the Champions League

2017-12-04 08:05
Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba (Getty Images)

Paris - Manchester United and Liverpool are among the teams bidding to book their places in the Champions League knockout stage this week, while Atletico Madrid appear set to bow out of the competition.

Here, AFP Sport looks at five scenarios to keep an eye on during the final round of group-stage games on Tuesday and Wednesday:

United on the cusp

Manchester United were made to wait for a place in the knockout phase after conceding late in a 1-0 defeat at Basel, but Jose Mourinho's team are still all but guaranteed to reach the last 16. United, who were indebted to a starring display from goalkeeper David de Gea in Saturday's 3-1 win at Arsenal, must simply avoid losing by more than six goals at home to CSKA Moscow. For the Russians to pip Basel to the other qualifying spot they need to better the Swiss club's result away to pointless Benfica. United are unbeaten in 20 European home games, but CSKA have won all four matches on their travels this season having come through two rounds of qualifiers.

Atletico staring down the barrel

A plucky 2-0 win against Roma two weeks ago kept Diego Simeone's Atletico in contention going into the last round of matches, but victory for Roma over Azeri debutants Qarabag at the Stadio Olimpico would see the three-time finalists eliminated. Atletico, who have lost two of the last four finals to city rivals Real Madrid, have to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to have any chance, having lost the reverse fixture 2-1. Their hopes won't be helped by the fact that Antonio Conte's Blues still have plenty to play for too, as they need a win to guarantee top spot ahead of Roma. It's not over yet, but Atletico's two draws with Qarabag look set to condemn them to the Europa League.

Juve still in danger

Last season's runners-up Juventus would have expected to have qualified before the final match-day when they were drawn in Group D alongside Barcelona, Sporting Lisbon and Olympiakos, but they head to Athens on Tuesday still needing a win to definitely progress. Sporting have been rejuvenated in the last two seasons under Jorge Jesus, but face the daunting task of having to win at Barcelona to have any chance of ending a nine-year absence from the knockout stage. But Barca have already wrapped up first place so may rest players, and have dropped four points from their last two La Liga matches. If Sporting fail to win, Juve go through regardless.

Liverpool closing in on last-16 return

Liverpool welcome Spartak Moscow to Anfield on Wednesday knowing that they only need to avoid defeat to reach the last 16 for the first time in nine years. Victory for the five-time champions would also wrap up top spot in Group E. Jurgen Klopp's men should have secured qualification a fortnight ago, but blew a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Sevilla. The Reds are bidding to banish the memories of three years ago when a 1-1 home draw with Basel sent them packing. Russian champions Spartak have to win to have any chance of progressing. Sevilla only need to draw with Maribor in Slovenia to qualify for the knockout stage, and would go through as group winners if they win and Liverpool slip up.

Napoli bid to overhaul Shakhtar

With Manchester City already assured of top spot, Shakhtar Donetsk and Serie A high-flyers Napoli are fighting it out for second in Group F. Shakhtar take on City in Ukraine and will qualify for the knockout rounds if they can end Pep Guardiola's side's 20-match winning streak. Napoli head to pointless Feyenoord knowing that victory would see them snatch a ticket for the last 16 if Shakhtar lose to City, after their 3-0 victory over the Ukrainians last time out gave them the better head-to-head record. Napoli, who lost their unbeaten start to the Italian season with a 1-0 defeat by Juventus on Friday, are looking to reach the last 16 for only the third time.

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Fixtures
Tuesday, 02 October 2018
Juventus v Young Boys, Allianz Stadium 18:55
Hoffenheim v Manchester City, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 18:55
Bayern Munchen v Ajax, Allianz-Arena 21:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Shakhtar Donetsk, Groupama OL Academy Decines-Charpieu 21:00
Manchester United v Valencia, Old Trafford 21:00
AEK Athens v Benfica, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 21:00
Roma v Viktoria Plzen, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
CSKA Moskva v Real Madrid, VEB Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 03 October 2018
PSG v Crvena Zvezda, Parc des Princes 18:55
Lokomotiv Moskva v Schalke 04, RZD Arena 18:55
Porto v Galatasaray, Estadio Do Dragao 21:00
Atletico Madrid v Club Brugge, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 21:00
PSV v Internazionale, Philips Stadion 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Monaco, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Napoli v Liverpool, Stadio San Paolo 21:00
Tottenham Hotspur v Barcelona, Wembley Stadium 21:00
Tuesday, 23 October 2018
AEK Athens v Bayern Munchen, Olympiako Stadio Spyros Louis 18:55
Young Boys v Valencia, STADE DE SUISSE Wankdorf Bern 18:55
Real Madrid v Viktoria Plzen, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu 21:00
Ajax v Benfica, Johan Cruijff ArenA 21:00
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City, Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist 21:00
Manchester United v Juventus, Old Trafford 21:00
Roma v CSKA Moskva, Stadio Olimpico 21:00
Hoffenheim v Olympique Lyonnais, Wirsol Rhein-Neckar-Arena 21:00
Wednesday, 24 October 2018
Club Brugge v Monaco, Jan Breydelstadion 18:55
PSV v Tottenham Hotspur, Philips Stadion 18:55
Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda, Anfield 21:00
Barcelona v Internazionale, Camp Nou 21:00
PSG v Napoli, Parc des Princes 21:00
Lokomotiv Moskva v Porto, RZD Arena 21:00
Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid, Signal-Iduna-Park 21:00
Galatasaray v Schalke 04, Turk Telekom Stadyumu 21:00
Tuesday, 06 November 2018
Monaco v Club Brugge, Stade Louis II 19:55
Crvena Zvezda v Liverpool, Stadion Rajko Mitic 19:55
Porto v Lokomotiv Moskva, Estadio Do Dragao 22:00
Atletico Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Estadio Wanda Metropolitano 22:00
Internazionale v Barcelona, Stadio Giuseppe Meazza 22:00
Napoli v PSG, Stadio San Paolo 22:00
Schalke 04 v Galatasaray, Veltins-Arena 22:00
Tottenham Hotspur v PSV, Wembley Stadium 22:00
Wednesday, 07 November 2018
Valencia v Young Boys, Estadio de Mestalla 19:55
CSKA Moskva v Roma, VEB Arena 19:55
Juventus v Manchester United, Allianz Stadium 22:00
Bayern Munchen v AEK Athens, Allianz-Arena 22:00
Viktoria Plzen v Real Madrid, Doosan Arena 22:00
Benfica v Ajax, Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica (da Luz) 22:00
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk, Etihad Stadium 22:00
Olympique Lyonnais v Hoffenheim, Groupama Stadium 22:00
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