After each team has played 5 matches in the Champions League group stage, the knockout stage is 50% full, as eight teams have already completed the job of qualifying to the round of 16, while another eight have to go though the drama of the final midweek round in the competition to see if they’ve made it, dropped to the Europa League or seeing an end to their European season altogether.
The teams that are in: Manchester United, will also finish first in Group A unless they lose by three goals or more at home to Shakhtar Donetsk; Real Madrid, finishing first in Group B; PSG, finishing first in group C; Bayern Munich and Manchester City in group D, with the European champions locking the top spot in the group; Chelsea in group E, although they’re not a certainty for the top spot; Atletico Madrid, finishing first in group G; and Barcelona, who still need to clinch first place in a match against Celtic in Group H.
Group D is sealed and locked, but the rest of the groups are still wide open, at least for the number 2 spot.
In group A, Shakhtar Donetsk are currently second with 8 points, followed by Leverkusen with 7. Both have away matches to finish the group stage – Shakhtar in Old Trafford, Leverkusen in San Sebastian. In group B, it’s going to be either Juventus, with 6 points, or Galatasaray, with 4. The two play in Istanbul, and a draw will be enough for Juventus to make it into the next round.
Group C offers the clash between Olympiacos and Benfica, both with 7 points, but the Greeks have better goal difference. Both teams have home matches: Benfica against Saint-Germain, Olympiacos against Anderlecht. In group E, Chelsea lead with 9 points, followed by Basel with 8 and Schalke with 7. Chelsea play on the final day at home against Steaua, while Schalke host Basel, in a must win match for the Germans.
In group F Arsenal are in the lead with 12 points, followed by Dortmund with 9 points and a +4 and Napoli with 9 points and a -1. Arsenal play in Naples on the final day, while Dortmund play against the week Marseille in France to finish the group stage. Arsenal need a draw to finish first in the group, but a loss to Napoli might make things tricky because of being only +5 in goal difference.
Group G offers a battle between Zenit and Porto for the second place. Porto have the tougher match, away against Atletico Madrid, while Zenit play in Austria. Zenit hold the lead with 6 points to 5. In Group H Barcelona haven’t secured the top spot yet, currently with 10 points. Milan are second with 8, Ajax are third with 7. Ajax must win on their visit to the San Siro, while Barcelona play at home against Celtic.