Soccer

Champions League group permutations, scenarios: Barcelona lose tiebreaker to Benfica; AC Milan need help

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The UEFA Champions League group stage is down to its final matchday, and we have you covered with every match airing on Paramount+ and “The Golazo Show” on CBS Sports Network. All in all, 11 of the 16 spots in the knockout stage have been booked, with five spots remaining and number of teams still in contention. 

Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Inter Milan were among the notable teams to clinch this week. AC Milan managed to stay in contention heading into the final day thanks to a late Junior Messias winner over Atletico Madrid. Borussia Dortmund, dealing with the injury absence of Erling Haaland, will be relegated to the Europa League knockout stage with a third-place finish. Meanwhile, Manchester United — in search for a new manager — clinched but could still finish second in the group. 

There’s plenty of stake heading into the final matchday, so let’s take a look at who’s in, who’s out and what are the scenarios and permutations to watch.

Already advanced

Group A

  • Manchester City are through as the group winner.
  • Paris Saint-Germain are through as group runner-up.

Group B

  • Liverpool are through as the group winner.

Group C

  • Ajax are through as the group winner.
  • Sporting CP are through as group runner-up.

Group D 

  • Real Madrid are through to the last 16.
  • Inter Milan are through to the last 16.

Group E

  • Bayern Munich are through as the group winner.

Group F

  • Manchester United are through to the last 16.

Group G

  • No teams have punched their ticket to the last 16

Group H 

  • Chelsea are through to the last 16.
  • Juventus are through to the last 16.

What’s at stake?

Group A

  • RB Leipzig (4 points, 0 GD) and Club Brugge (4 points, -11 GD) are playing for third and a spot in the Europa League knockouts after Manchester City and PSG have clinched the top two spots. Leipzig hold the tiebreaker edge should those two finish with the same points, meaning three points for Jesse Marsch’s side against an already-qualified Man City is enough for Europa League access.

Group B

  • Porto (5 points, -5 GD),  AC Milan (4 points, -2 GD) and Atletico Madrid (4 points, -3 GD) are all playing for second place in the group behind Liverpool. Milan would need a win over a presumed weaker Liverpool squad and a draw in the Porto-Atleti match to make a last-gasp surprise entrance into the round of 16. For Porto or Atleti, it’s much simpler — win and you’re in.

Group C

  • All four teams are locked into their positions.

Group D 

  • Real Madrid (12 points, +9 GD) and Inter Milan (10 points, +5 GD) will meet at the Santiago Bernabeu. The only way Real Madrid fail to finish atop the group is if they lose at home to Inter. A draw would be enough to cling first place and Pot 1 in the draw.

Group E

  • Barcelona (7 points, -4 GD) do not hold the tiebreaker edge over Benfica (5 points, -4 GD) should the two finish level on points. Benfica’s 3-0 drubbing over the Catalan side on Sept. 29 will come in handy if they can beat Dynamo Kiev at home on the final day of the group stage. Barca need a win away from home over a presumed weaker Bayern Munich side that’s playing for pride after having already clinched first.

Group F

  • Manchester United (10 points, +3 GD) can win the group with a draw or a win over Young Boys (4 points, -5 GD), who are eliminated from the knockout stage of the Champions League but can still secure a spot in Europa League with a third-place finish. Atalanta (6 points, 0 GD) will host Villarreal (7 points, +2 GD) for essentially the final available spot into the knockouts. A draw would be enough to see Villarreal through.

Group G

  • Lille (8 points, +1 GD), Red Bull Salzburg (7 points, +1 GD), Sevilla (6 points, +1 GD) and Wolfsburg (5 points, -3 GD) are all still alive in what is arguably the wildest group of the bunch. For Lille, a draw against Wolfsburg should be enough to see them through. Salzburg will host Sevilla and a win from any of the two would guarantee their spot in the next phase. If you’re a fan of chaos, you might want to root for a draw for Salzburg and a win for Wolfsburg, which would give us three teams tied at eight points. 

Group H 

  • Chelsea (12 points, +9 GD) hold the tiebreaker over Juventus (12 points, +3 GD) based on head-to-head goal difference should the two finish level on points. Only two scenarios would give Juventus first place in the group: A win over Malmo and a Chelsea loss/draw at Zenit or a Juve draw over Malmo coupled with a Chelsea loss.  

Europa League watch

Third-placed teams in each group will be relegated into the Europa League and enter in knockout round draw. The following teams are already locked into Europa League spots: Borussia Dortmund (Group C), Sheriff Tiraspol (Group D) and Zenit Saint Petersburg (Group H).


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