At the end of Match-day 5 games on November 24 & 25, nine out of sixteen places for UEFA Champions League knock-out phase were decided. As the teams prepare for their last games on Match-day 6 on December 8 & 9, fates of the remaining seven will be known while third-place finishers in each group would qualify for UEFA Europa League round-of-32. The high point of Match-day 5 was FC Zenit’s undefeated streak at Group-stage as the St. Petersburg Club won its fifth straight game. Joining Zenith in knock-out rounds were; Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, Atletico Madrid, FC Benfica, Juventus, Manchester City, FC Barcelona and Bayern Munich. However, this season’s Champions League campaign has ended for Dinamo Zagreb, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Lyon. Seven other teams can finish third and join the Europa League round-of-32.
In Group-A matches, Paris St. Germain defeated Malmo at Sweden 5-0, while Real Madrid also scored a 4-3 away win against Shakhtar Donetsk. While Zlatan Ibrahimovic made his presence felt against his old club by scoring a second half goal, Cristiano Ronaldo found the target twice against Shakhtar. While Paris and Madrid have both qualified for the knock-out round, Shakhtar will hope for the third place finish on Match-day 6, when they meet PSG at Paris. Malmo will travel to the Spanish capital for their away game against Real Madrid. Shakhtar only need to match Malmo’s points’ tally for qualifying in the Europa League.
In Group-B, Manchester United had a 0-0 home draw against PSV Eindhoven and CSKA Moskva suffered a 0-2 loss against the visiting Wolgsburg. However, United, Wolfsburg and PSV still have chances to qualifying on Match-day 6, while CSKA Moskva can only hope for a third-place finish. Now Manchester United must win against Wolfsburg to qualify and the same holds good for PSV, who need a win against CSKA Moscow. As for Wolfsburg, only a draw will suffice.
In the Group-C games on Match-day 5, Portuguese club Benefica rallied from 0-2 and drew 2-2 against Kazakh club Astana. The result meant curtains for Astana in the Champions League. In the other game, Atletico Madrid won 2-0 at home against Galatasaray. Both Atletico and Benefica are through to the knock-out round and on match-day 6; Astana must beat Galatasaray in Turkey to finish third.
In Group-D, there were home victories for Juventus and Borussia Monchengladbach. While Juve defeated Manchester City 1-0 at Turin, the German Club defeated Sevilla 4-2 at Monchengladbach. With Juventus and Manchester City having already qualified, Group-D games on Match-Day 6 will only decide the third-place finish for either Sevilla or Monchengladbach.
Group E games on Match-Day 5 were inconsequential for FC Barcelona, who thrashed Roma 6-1 with two goals each from Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi and one each from Pique and Adriano. In the other match, Bate Borisov drew 1-1 with Bayern Leverkusen at home. While FC Barcelona in this Group have already qualified, any one of the remaining three teams; Bate, Leverkusen and Roma can still qualify. If Roma beats Bate on match-day 6, the Italian club will join FCB in the knock-out phase. Leverkusen’s chances hinge on their victory over Barcelona coupled with Roma’s defeat by Bate. As for Bate, they could qualify if they beat Roma.
In Group F matches on November 24 & 25, Arsenal defeated Dinamo Zagreb 3-0 in London while Bayern Munich outplayed Olympiacos 4-0 at Munich. Dynamo Zagreb has exited the Group and Bayern is the only qualified team so far. On Match-Day 6, there will a fight for the second place between Arsenal and Olympiacos. The Greek team has an edge with a 3-2 earlier win over the Gunners and therefore Arsenal must produce a win with at least 1-0 goal difference.
In Group H, Maccabi Tel Aviv’s exit is the only positive result and any of the remaining three teams can qualify on Match-Day 6. On the last Match-Day, FC Porto suffered a 0-2 home loss against Dynamo Kyiv while Chelsea won 4-0 in an away game against Maccabi. Now the Match-day 6 winner between Chelsea and Porto will top the Group H. if Porto wins 2-1 against Chelsea, the Portuguese club will top the Group provided Dynamo do not win. However, Dynamo can also qualify if they beat Maccabi and the match between Porto and Chelsea is drawn. There is also a possibility that the three teams are split on goal-difference. In this scenario, Porto could finish third behind Dynamo and Chelsea.
In Group G, FC Zenit continued with their superb run in Group-stage matches and recorded their fifth straight win by beating Valencia 2-0 in St. Petersburg. In the other match, Lyon had a 0-1 home loss against KAA Gent. With Lyon having exited the tournament and Zenit having qualified, the fight for the second place will be between Valencia and Gent. For Valencia, it will be a must-win situation against Lyon but Gent must lose to Zenit. Same situation will be true for Gent, who could go through with a win provided Valencia do not win. The only certainty is; one team out of Valencia and Gent will make it to the knock-out round while the other is assured of Europa League round-of-32.
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