The final matchday of the Champions League group stage is finally here.
Eight clubs have clinched a spot in the knockout round, with seven of those already clinching their position. Only four clubs have been eliminated from contention completely, and five additional clubs can still go to Europa League as a third place club but cannot reach the top two of their group to reach the Champions League Round of 16.
Like we did for Matchday 5, we’re going to look at the various scenarios within the groups, and how each club involved can reach the next round, whether it is in the Champions League or Europa League. Wednesday’s action features the “top” of the bracket, with action from Groups A, B, C, and D starting things off this week. Things are a bit more settled in these groups, at least compared to the action from Tuesday, with six of eight Champions League Round of 16 berths secured.
Here’s a look at how Wednesday’s action shakes out:
Clinched: 1st place – Paris Saint-Germain (13 points); 2nd place – Real Madrid (8 points)
The only thing remaining in this group is determining who will be going over to the knockout stage in Europa League. PSG will be seeded in the Round of 16 draw regardless of their outcome against Galatasaray (2 points). Real Madrid will be unseeded in the draw, and will likely send the “B” squad to Belgium for their match against Club Brugge (3 points).
Both the clubs trying for third place are underdogs on Wednesday night, giving Club Brugge the leg up to advance to Europa League, and FiveThirtyEight has them advancing in 96% of simulations. Galatasaray will have to win outright versus PSG to advance, which accounts for their 4% odds. Regardless of what club finishes third, they will be one of the worse teams heading over to Europa League and will likely not last long in that tournament either.
Projected points totals: Paris Saint-Germain (16 points), Real Madrid (11 points), Club Brugge (3 points), Galatasaray (2 points)
Clinched: 1st place – Bayern Munich (15 points); 2nd place – Tottenham Hotspur (10 points)
In perhaps the only match that will have a direct impact on who will find a way to the next round – albeit in Europa League – kicks off from Karaiskakis Stadium in Greece at 9:00pm Central Europe Time (3:00pm EST). Olympiacos (1 point) is currently in 4th place, but as the home club against Red Star Belgrade (3 points), they are favored to win (69% of FiveThirtyEight simulations), which would result in them surpassing the Serbs to finish in third place.
Meanwhile, Bayern Munich will host the Spurs in an attempt to complete the group stage perfect. They defeated the Spurs handily on Matchday 2 in London, winning 7-2 behind four second-half goals from Serge Gnabry. I’m sure the Spurs want a measure of revenge for that, though they don’t have much incentive to win as they will finish second regardless. Maybe they use the match as a scrimmage of sorts and get some rest for some of their players, but we shall see.
Projected points totals: Bayern Munich (18 points), Tottenham Hotspur (10 points), Red Star Belgrade (4 points), Olympiacos (2 points)
Clinched: 1st place – Manchester City (11 points)
Three clubs are still in the running for the coveted second spot, with Shakhtar Donetsk (6 points) currently the favorite to claim it, doing so in 64% of FiveThirtyEight simulations. They have the pleasure of hosting Atalanta (4 points) at their home-away-from-home Metalist Stadium at 6:55pm CET (12:55pm EST). They are slight favorites, and need a win take control of their destiny…
Or they can hope that Dinamo Zagreb (5 points) follows through as expected and loses at home to Manchester City’s junior team. If the clubs somehow both end up with six points, Shakhtar would clinch second place due to holding the away goal tiebreaker over Dinamo Zagreb. So it would be easier for Shakhtar to repeat their 2-1 victory over Atalanta from Matchday 2 and just settle it themselves.
Projected points totals: Manchester City (14 points), Shakhtar Donetsk (7 points), Dinamo Zagreb (5 points), Atlanta (5 points)
Clinched: 1st place – Juventus (13 points)
Will advance (place TBD) – Atlético Madrid (7 points); Bayer Leverkusen (6 points)
Eliminated: Lokomotiv Moscow (3 points)
Atlético Madrid is heavily favored against Lokomotiv Moscow, especially with the match taking place in Spain. FiveThirtyEight puts the number at 85% of simulations (versus 2% chance for Lokomotiv). Even if Lokomotiv overcomes those long odds to win or draw, Bayer Leverkusen would have to defeat Juventus, a club that beat them 3-0 on Matchday 2. Fortunately, the match will be played in Leverkusen, and they are favored to prevail, likely since Juventus has no incentive to win.
I fear even a Bayer win would be for naught, as I expect Atlético Madrid to win against Lokomotiv, but at least Bayer Leverkusen will be seeded for the Europa League Round of 32 draw as the highest scoring 3rd place club.
Projected points totals: Juventus (13 points), Atlético Madrid (10 points), Bayer Leverkusen (9 points), Lokomotiv Moscow (3 points)