This year isn’t very exciting, at least not in comparison to some of the years passed, but there are still some key matchups, and the rules for tiebreakers are still confusing.
So, here’s how we stand, with one game to go.
First, a refresher on the tiebreakers.
1) Head-to-head points
2) Head-to-head goal difference
3) Away goals between tied teams
4) Goal differential
5) Goals scored
6) UEFA coefficient points
Champions League: Porto (13), PSG (12)
Europa: Dynamo Kiev (4)
Eliminated: Dinamo Zargreb (0)
Dinamo Zagreb v. Dynamo Kiev [first leg: Dynamo 2-0 Zagreb]
PSG v. Porto [first leg: Porto 1-0 PSG]
This group is very straightforward: PSG must beat Porto to win the group. What happens between Dynamo Kiev and Dinamo Zagreb is pretty irrelevant.
Champions League: Schalke 04 (11), Arsenal (10)
Europa: Olympiakos (6)
Eliminated: Montpelier (1)
Montpelier v. Schalke [Schalke 2-2 Montpelier]
Olympiakos v. Arsenal [Arsenal 3-1 Olympiakos]
Schalke beat Arsenal head-to-head, so to win the group, Arsenal must beat Olympiakos and Schalke must not beat Montpelier. Every other result would see Schalke top the group and Arsenal take second.
Champions League: winner Málaga (11), runner up AC Milan (8)
Europa: Zenit St. Petersburg (4) or Anderlecht (4)
Eliminated: Zenit St. Petersburg (4) or Anderlecht (4)
Málaga v. Anderlecht [Anderlecht 0-3 Málaga]
AC Milan v. Zenit St. Petersburg [Zenit 2-3 Milan]
Both Zenit and Anderlecht are playing away to teams whose placement is already secured, and if they end up with the same result, things could get interesting.
We already know that the first three tiebreakers won’t help – in their two games, the home side won 1-0, which leaves them level head-to-head. Goal differential, which is the fourth tiebreaker, is also close: Zenit are at -4, while Anderlecht are at -5. This may come down to the wire, and the deciding factor will probably who wants the more limited glory from Europa more.
Champions League: winner Borussia Dortmund (11), runner up Real Madrid (8)
Europa: Ajax (4) or Manchester City (3)
Eliminated: Ajax (4) or Manchester City (3)
Borussia Dortmund v. Manchester City [City 1-1 Dortmund]
Real Madrid v. Ajax [Ajax 1-4 Real Madrid]
Ajax beat City head-to-head, so to qualify for Europa, City must beat Borussia Dortmund and hope that Ajax do not also beat Real Madrid. Theoretically, anything’s possible, especially since Dortmund and Madrid have their placement assured, but Dortmund are only getting stronger, and it’s unclear how much City care about getting into Europa. They may prefer to focus on defending their title.
Champions League: Shakhtar Donetsk (10), Juventus (9) or Chelsea (7)
Europa: Juventus (9) or Chelsea (7)
Eliminated: Nordsjaelland (1)
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Juventus [Juventus 1-1 Shakhtar]
Chelsea v. Nordsjaelland [Nordsjaelland 0-4 Chelsea]
Chelsea must beat Nordsjaelland and Juventus must lose to Shakhtar for Chelsea to advance. Any other result will see Juventus move on and Chelsea go to Europa.
If Juventus beat Shakhtar, they will win the group. A draw or a loss if Chelsea fail to beat Nordsjaelland will get them second.
Champions League: Bayern Munich (10), Valencia (10)
Europa: BATE Borisov (6)
Eliminated: Lille (3)
Lille v. Valencia [Valencia 2-0 Lille]
Bayern Munich v. BATE [BATE 3-1 Bayern]
Bayern beat Valencia head-to-head, so to win the group, Valencia must get a better result than Bayern Munich. Otherwise, they will get second. Bayern seem likely to end up the winners – they’ll be at home, and a win is likely.
Champions League: winner Barcelona (12), runner up Benfica (7) or Celtic (7)
Europa: Benfica (7) or Celtic (7)
Eliminated: Spartak Moscow (3)
Barcelona v. Benfica [Benfica 0-2 Barcelona]
Celtic v. Spartak Moscow [Spartak 2-3 Celtic]
Benfica have the better of Celtic head-to-head, so Celtic must get a better result than Benfica to move on. Neither of their opponents have anything to play for, but with Benfica going away to the group winner, Celtic have the edge here.
Champions League: winner Manchester United (12), CFR Cluj (7) or Galatasaray (7)
Europa: CFR Cluj (7) or Galatasaray (7)
Eliminated: Braga (3)
Manchester United v. CFR Cluj [CFR 1-2 United]
Braga v. Galatasaray [Galatasaray 0-2 Braga]
Galatasaray have the better of CFR Cluj head-to-head, so CFR must get a better result than Galatasaray to move on. Otherwise, they will head to Europa.
So, to sum it up, here are what I see as being the most likely results on matchday 6. Teams in blue have already qualified, and those who have qualified but the winner/runner up is still to be decided are in italics. Teams which may qualify are in green.
Winners: Porto, Schalke, Málaga, Borussia Dortmund, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester United
Runners up: PSG, Arsenal, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus, Valencia, Celtic, Galatasaray