The curtains of the Champions League group stage come down this week. There’s still a lot to play for. Who will progress? Who will be eliminated? Here are Things to look out for in Matchweek 6. Bet on the Champions League here.
Can Salzburg shock Liverpool?
The last time the Champions League holders failed to make it through the group stage was Chelsea in 2012/13, and last season winners, Liverpool, will be desperate to escape that same fate when they play Salzburg tonight. Jurgen Klopp’s holders go into the final round sitting top of Group E but knowing a defeat away to free-scoring Red Bull Salzburg would likely see them finish third behind the Austrian side and Napoli – who host rock-bottom Genk. Salzburg have a dangerous weapon in their arsenal – Erling Braut Haaland – a striker who has scored in every group game this season. Therefore, this won’t be an easy game for Liverpool. Salzburg have scored 16 goals in five games so far and should be a serious threat to Liverpool’s defence. Will Liverpool go through or will the hosts upset the odds?
Inter Milan to qualify for the last 16?
It’s a do-or-die match for Inter Milan against Barcelona in Group F. The Nerazzurri need three points to seal their qualification to the knockout stage. Both Inter and Borussia Dortmund are on seven points meaning even if both teams win, Inter will go through due to a superior head to head record. Last season was the first time in nine Champions League campaigns Inter had failed to progress from their group. Barcelona should also be fielding a weakened side given they’ve already qualified for the last 16. The last time these two met, Inter gave Barcelona a run for their money and were close to getting something were it not for the individual brilliance of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. Therefore, Antonio Conte’s men should be going for it. Barcelona have shown vulnerabilities when playing away from the Camp Nou.
Atletico Madrid’s poor form
Atletico Madrid had not lost more than once in a group campaign since 2019/10, but back-to-back defeats by Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus in Group D have put their chances of qualification at risk. A win over Lokomotiv Moscow will see them through. Diego Simeone’s team will also be wary of the fact that Lokomotive Moscow have won in Germany and narrowly lost away to Juventus. Leverkusen also have a huge game against Juventus and will need to beat the Italian giants to give themselves a chance. A 2-1 loss to Chelsea in 2017/18 is Atlético’s only defeat in the last 24 European games in their own stadium. However, they have won just one of their last eight games.
Lewandowski and Haaland to equal Ronaldo’s scoring record?
Cristiano Ronaldo remains the only player in Champions League history to have scored in every group match. However, he may soon have to share that record with Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Haaland of Salzburg. The two strikers are having phenomenal campaigns. Lewandowski has scored ten goals while Haaland has scored eight in five appearances. Moreover, these two have scored in every game so far and if they find the net tonight, they’ll join Ronaldo as the only players to score in every game. At only 19 years old, Haaland is having a splendid season. He has scored an unprecedented 28 goals in 21 games in all competitions.
Drama in Group H
Ajax sit top of Group H with ten points. Valencia and Chelsea are second and third respectively. The Dutch giants need just a point to progress. However, they face Valencia who need a win to go through. The Blues will be through if they win at home to already-eliminated Lille. Valencia will go through if they beat Ajax, or as long as they finish at least level on points with Chelsea due to their superior head-to-head record. Therefore, there’s is a lot of drama to come in this group which has witnessed a few in the last few weeks.