It’s Easy Peasy for the English Sides as Champions League Reaches Crucial Phase

Champions League Trophy
Image Credit: David Flores via flickr

There are just two gameweeks left in the Champions League group stage, and while some of the brackets have already been sorted, in some instances it remains all to play for.

Don’t forget: the stakes are so high here. The top two teams in each group will go on to contest the last 16 of the competition, while trousering a handy financial bonus for their performance.

Bottom of the pile returns to their domestic action with nothing to show for their efforts, but at least they are spared the indignity of the third placed finishers, who are moved into the Europa League for that competition’s last 32 stage.

So how are things shaping up in the 2017/18 Champions League, and is there any betting value to be had?

Group A

Footballer in Centre CircleTo some extent, Group A has been sorted with Manchester United finishing top unless they suffer two incredibly heavy defeats in the weeks to come.

As for the battle for second, Benfica can mathematically still make it, but their goal difference is so poor that they will have to achieve something astronomical to take the silver medal.

So it’s left to Basel and CSKA Moscow, level on six points, to battle it out for second. The Swiss side have a better goal difference by some six goals, and while they host Manchester United this week they still have the insurance of a trip to Benfica to come.

CSKA, on the other hand, have to play United at Old Trafford in the final gameweek, so for our money Basel to qualify at 4/6 is the betting value here.

Group B

If PSG beat Celtic on Wednesday they will top Group B, and incredibly with two games to go the Scottish side can – theoretically at least – still qualify for the last 16 if they can somehow beat the Parisians and then hapless Anderlecht in gameweek 6.

But realistically Group B is already settled, with PSG in first and Bayern Munich having to settle for second.

Group C

Football Player Scoring GoalThings are rather more interesting in Group C, where victory for Chelsea on Wednesday against Qarabag would secure their qualification to the last 16.

And that means that Atletico Madrid vs Roma takes on extra significance. The hosts can still technically qualify, but they need to beat Roma and Chelsea and hope that Qarabag do them a solid against the Blues in the final gameweek.

That’s fanciful at best, so value hunters are advised to consider the 5/4 price on Chelsea to win the group – Roma have a tricky assignment on Wednesday evening.

Group D

Barcelona have secured their progression to the knockout stages of the competition, although they may not win the group if Juventus can beat them in Italy on Wednesday.

The Old Lady’s last game is away at Olympiakos, however, while Barca host Sporting Lisbon.

Intriguingly, the Portuguese outfit could go second if they beat the Greek outfit this week and Juve lose against the Catalonians, but even so their final day trip to the Nou Camp will surely prove to be their undoing.

Group E

Football Goalkeeper Wearing Red JerseyThree teams – Liverpool, Sevilla and Spartak Moscow – can all still qualify from Group E.

Liverpool and Sevilla meet in Spain on Tuesday, so Spartak can actually go second if they beat whipping boys Maribor.

Advantage the Russians, you might think, but their last fixture is at Anfield. Sevilla travel to take on a Maribor side whose goal difference so far reads -13 after four matches.

Group F

There’s an extraordinary scene in Group F, with Shakhtar Donetsk just needing a point against either Napoli (a) or Manchester City (h) to qualify.

City are through already, while Napoli – after home-and-away defeats to the Citizens – need six points from their remaining games to have any hope of progression.

If Napoli beat Shakhtar at home, and Feyenoord away, and the Ukrainians lose against the Manchester outfit then the Italians qualify – at 3/1, that set of circumstances is surely worth following in?

Group G

Football ManagerIn the biggest surprise of the tournament, Besiktas need just two points from Porto (h) and Leipzig (a) to win Group G.

The Turkish outfit are all but assured qualification anyway, so second place is a straight dogfight between the other two teams mentioned and Monaco.

Porto are favourites by virtue of having points on the board, although Leipzig’s hopes cannot be ignored. If they can get something in Monaco this week, then they take on Besiktas at home n the final gameweek – the Turks already being through, remember.

Thus, Leipzig to qualify at 10/3 is a really interesting proposition for punters.

Group H

Tottenham are likely to win Group H, but they might need to utilise their final fixture to get over the line.

That’s because they travel to Borussia Dortmund this week – never an easy place to go, but have the security of a Wembley date with hapless APOEL Nicosia to come.

Dortmund have to beat Spurs and Real Madrid away to progress, while the Galacticos need just a point in Cyprus to confirm a top two finish.