It’s time for Matchday 6 in Champions League. Four matches will be played each of the next two days, and while some of the matches won’t matter, there are still 12 spots up for grabs in the knockout phase. Beyond that, there are three groups that have yet to find a third-place finisher – those clubs head over to Europa League’s knockout phase – so we will try to point you towards the games that matter before the Champions League takes a two month hiatus and returns in February.
It’s important to win the group in order to be seeded in the draw for the knockout phase. The seeded team gets to host the second match of the two legs, allowing the seeded club to overcome a poor road showing in their first match if necessary. As mentioned, third place clubs head to Europa, and they too want to do their best, as the top four third-place finishers are seeded in the knockout phase of Europa League.
I’ll be using FiveThirtyEight’s Champions League Predictions when I talk about the various chances for placement within the groups, and reflect the club’s chances of claiming that particular spot. Here’s a group-by-group summary of how today’s results will impact the ending tables, with teams in bold locked into that position:
Group A has determined its top three, with Atlético Madrid (12 points) and Borussia Dortmund (10 points) heading off to the Champions League knockout phase and Club Brugge (5 points) locked into third place. Should the top two clubs both finish with 13 points, Dortmund wins the tiebreaker over Atlético based on head-to-head goal differential. Club Brugge hosts Atlético Madrid hoping to move up in the overall “third-place club standings,” while last place Monaco hosts Dortmund, who needs to win to have any chance of winning the group.
Update: Dortmund defeated Monaco, while Atlético drew with Brugge. Dortmund won the group due to head-to-head goal difference.
- 1st place – Borussia Dortmund (13 points)
- 2nd place – Atlético Madrid (13 points)
- 3rd place – Club Brugge (6 points)
Barcelona (13 points) have assured themselves of a first place finish in the group. Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan are tied for second with seven points, though the Spurs hold the tiebreaker due to head-to-head away goals. But Inter has the easier path to second, hosting PSV Eindhoven, who has one point in the group and is eliminated. The Spurs, on the other hand, have to travel to Spain, hoping to have a much different result from when the clubs matched up in England (a 4-2 Barca win). If the Spurs and Inter both win, the Spurs remain in Champions League, while Inter would join Europa. Chances are, that it will not end that way.
Update: PSV forced a draw against Inter, while Tottenham had a dramatic late equalizer to do the same against Barca. The Spurs are through due to head-to-head away goals versus Inter.
- 1st place – Barcelona (14 points)
- 2nd place – Tottenham Hotspur (8 points)
- 3rd place – Inter Milan (8 points)
Group C is the most open group of the eight, with three clubs in the running for a top two spot, and all four clubs in contention for a move to Europa League.
First, the easy part: Red Star Belgrade (4 points) needs to win to give themselves a shot at transfer to Europa League. Unfortunately, they host a Paris Saint-Germain (8 points) that beat them 6-1 on Matchday 2. Red Star would also need Napoli (9 points) to defeat Liverpool (6 points) for that victory to not be in vain.
If that scenario were to occur, Napoli would win the group, with PSG finishing second and Red Star in third. But that is also the least likely scenario. Liverpool needs to win against Napoli, and do it in a way that also gives them the tiebreaker. Otherwise, they will head off to Europa, which is the most likely result today.
Update: Paris Saint-Germain took care of Red Star, while Liverpool defeated Napoli. Liverpool advances because of goals scored in the group (9 versus 7).
- 1st – Paris Saint-Germain (11 points)
- 2nd – Liverpool (9 points)
- 3rd – Napoli (9 points)
Group D is simply a battle for third place, as Porto (13 points) has clinched first place and Schalke 04 (8 points) has clinched second. Current third-place club Galatasaray (4 points) hosts a Porto with nothing to play for, while Lokomotiv Moscow (3 points) will need to travel to Germany against Schalke. Expect everything to go as expected (Galatasaray would win the tiebreaker over Lokomotiv Moscow should they both end with 4 points).
Update: Porto defeated Galatasaray, and Schalke defeated Lokomotiv Moscow. Galatasary moves onto Europa League, where they will be unseeded in the knockout stage.
- 1st place – Porto (16 points)
- 2nd place – Schalke 04 (11 points)
- 3rd place – Galatasaray (4 points)
Group E is in the same boat as Group A: the top three are determined, and Matchday 6 will determine the group winner. It is different, however, in that the top two clubs will actually play each other: Ajax (11 points) hosts Bayern Munich (13 points) to determine the group winner. The clubs played to a 1-1 draw the first time they met in Germany. In the other match, Benfica (4 points) will be looking for three points to improve their chances of being seeded in the Europa League knockout phase.
Update: Ajax and Bayern played to a 3-3 draw, giving Bayern the group. Benfica also won, and will be seeded in the Europa League knockout round draw as the 4th-best third place club.
- 1st place – Bayern Munich
- 2nd place – Ajax
- 3rd place – Benfica
One club has clinched advancement to the Champions League knockout phase. Manchester City (10 points) can finish no worse than second, and will host an 1899 Hoffenheim (3 points) club playing with an outside chance of advancing to Europa League. Lyon (7 points) and Shakhtar Donetsk (5 points) will meet in Ukraine in what will probably be for second place.
If through some miracle Lyon and Manchester City both end the day with 10 points, Lyon would win the tiebreaker because they defeated Manchester City on Matchday 1. But even if City struggles against the much lesser German squad, they can win the group with a draw.
Update: Manchester City came back and won against Hoffenheim, clinching the group. Shakhtar and Lyon drew 1-1, giving Lyon second and sending Shakhtar off to Europa League.
- 1st – Manchester City
- 2nd – Lyon
- 3rd – Shakhtar Donetsk
Like Group D, Group G only has its third place finisher yet to decide. Real Madrid (12 points) clinched first place because they won the tiebreaker versus Roma (9 points), who settles into second place. Viktoria Plzeň and CSKA Moscow are both tied with 4 points, with Viktoria Plzeň owning the tiebreaker on head-to-head points. Plzeň hosts Roma, while CSKA Moscow has to travel to Madrid. That’s probably why Plzeň shows the better chance of moving on to Europa League.
Update: In Matchday 6 action, and the battle for third place and a trip to Europa League, both Viktoria Plzeň and CSKA Moscow won. Viktoria Plzeň advances to the Europa League knockout phase due to head-to-head results against CSKA Moscow.
- 1st – Real Madrid
- 2nd – Roma
- 3rd – Viktoria Plzeň
Group H is like Group A, in that the top three clubs are determined, with only the group winner to be determined. Juventus (12 points) and Manchester United (10 points) are on to the Champions League knockout phase, while Valencia (5 points) is locked into heading to Europa League. Juventus is favored to win the group because of their Matchday 6 match against Young Boys, but if ManU and Juventus both finish with 13 points, ManU would be the group winner because of head-to-head away goals. Chances are, Juventus at least plays to a draw against one of our favorite “Small Clubs,” but anything can happen.
Update: Both top clubs lost, so they end the group the way the day started, with Juventus winning and Manchester United placing second. Valencia’s win also makes them the second-best third-place club, so they will be seeded in the draw in Europa League’s knockout phase.
- 1st – Juventus
- 2nd – Manchester United
- 3rd – Valencia
Regardless of who you might be rooting for, we wish your club success. Personally, we’re sad that Champions League won’t be back until February, but luckily we’ll have league play to keep us busy in the meantime. We’ll also be back with a recap of everything that went down on Matchday 6, as well as a preview of subsequent rounds of the tournament.
Until next time…