The group stage of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League is already handing down the early verdicts when it comes to teams qualifying for the Round of 16 and others suffering elimination from the most prestigious club tournament in the world.
Bayern Munich (Group E) and Juventus (Group H) became the first two teams to book a ticket to the knockout rounds, while Malmo FF was the first team to know it will not be in the competition come next year.
The top two teams in each of the eight groups qualify for the Round of 16 in February. The eight third-place teams are given berths in a February playoff for the second-tier continental competition — the Europa League. The last-place teams are eliminated from European competition for the rest of the season.
The scenarios for each group involved in Wednesday’s action follow below:
Group A scenarios
At stake on Matchday 4: The only potential verdict on Matchday 4 is that RB Leipzig could be eliminated from contention with a loss. A draw might also not be enough.
1. PSG (7 points)
A win vs. RB Leipzig would virtually guarantee a Round of 16 berth with two matches left to play. A draw or loss would give Man City the chance to overtake it in the standings.
2. Man City (6 points)
Victory against Club Brugge would be a huge step toward the knockouts, just shy of mathematical certainty.
3. Club Brugge (4 points)
A victory against Man City would not only put it in a good spot for shock advancement to the Round of 16, but it could also secure a minimum third-place finish which would guarantee at least Europa League playoff action come February.
4. RB Leipzig (0 points)
Jesse Marsch’s side is facing a must-win in order to at least remain in the running for a Europa League spot, which comes with a third-place finish. Leipzig is scheduled to visit Club Brugge in the next matchday on Nov. 24.
Group A standings
Group B scenarios
At stake on Matchday 4: Liverpool can clinch a Round of 16 berth and stay perfect with a win.
1. Liverpool (9 points)
A fourth straight win would put the English club out of reach of both Atletico Madrid and AC Milan with two matches remaining, mathematically clinching a berth in the Round of 16.
2. Porto (5 points)
The draw at AC Milan helped to keep the Italian side at bay. The best-case scenario for Porto is that Atletico loses or ties at Liverpool and that the second Round of 16 berth comes down to the final day when Porto hosts Atletico Madrid.
3. Atletico Madrid (4 points)
Any result at Anfield would be a boost to its chances of advancement, but a loss would ratchet up the pressure for the final two matches and set up a potential dramatic finale at Porto.
4. AC Milan (1 point)
The co-leaders in Italy’s Serie A have been unlucky in failing to win all four of their UEFA Champions League matches. But with six points still up for grabs, they’re still in the running for second place and third place, the latter which comes with a Europa League playoff berth.
Group B standings
Group C scenarios
At stake on Matchday 4: Ajax could advance as the top team in Group C with a win, while Besiktas could be mathematically eliminated.
1. Ajax (9 points)
A second straight win over Borussia Dortmund would clinch the top spot in Group C which would put the Dutch club among the top seeds in the knockout rounds.
2. Borussia Dortmund (6 points)
The German side will want at least a draw at home against Ajax to remain with a chance to claim the top seed. A loss would make the Matchday 5 showdown against Sporting CP a virtual showdown for second place.
3. Sporting CP (3 points)
The home match against bottom side Besiktas is a must-win to stay close to Borussia Dortmund and keep alive any hope of advancing to the Round of 16. It would also serve to eliminate Besiktas and guarantee at worst a third-place finish and Europa League playoff action come February.
4. Besiktas (0 points)
A draw could keep them in the running, but in practical terms, only a road win will do.
Group C standings
Group D scenarios
At stake on Matchday 4: Shakhtar Donetsk would face elimination if Sheriff Tiraspol beats Inter Milan.
1. Real Madrid (9 points)
The win at home against Shakhtar should help avoid drama in the last two matches of the group. If it beats Sheriff on the road in the next round, it would secure passage.
2. FC Sheriff Tiraspol (6 points)
The surprise Moldovan outfit has two straight home games against the two favorites (Inter Milan & Real Madrid). But they’re not surprising anyone this time around.
3. Inter Milan (4 points)
Anything but a win at FC Sheriff would keep the Moldovan side in the mix for one of the top two spots, which is not how anyone saw this group going. A win would put Inter in a strong position to qualify. A shock loss would have Inter Milan on the brink of elimination.
4. Shakhtar Donetsk (1 point)
Shakhtar fans are rooting hard for an Inter Milan loss to keep third place within reach.
Group D standings
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