The Champions League group phase is nearing its climax, but there are still a number of issues to be decided on Wednesday, icluding the fate of European heavyweights Real Madrid.
On Tuesday, Manchester United, one of 13 teams whose Champions League futures were in the balance on matchday six, were eliminated from the competition.
Focus on Wednesday will turn to 13-time winners Real, who are also in danger of suffering an ignominious early exit going into their final-day showdown at home to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Here is the lowdown on who needs what to make it through to the knockout phase of the competition:
Who has already qualified?
Who can still qualify?
Atletico Madrid, Red Bull Salzburg, Monchengladbach, Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Atalanta, Ajax.
Group A: Draw enough for Atleti
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Bayern vs Lokomotiv Moscow, Salzburg vs Atletico (8pm)
Diego Simeone’s men simply must not lose at the Red Bull Arena Salzburg to remain in the competition. If they do, they will drop into the Europa League last 32 as the third-placed team from Group A.
Salzburg will progress instead if they beat Atletico.
Bayern are through as group winners while Lokomotiv cannot progress – but would drop into the Europa League if they beat Bayern and Salzburg do not beat Atletico.
Group B: Unthinkable on the cards for Real
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Inter Milan vs Shakhtar Donetsk, Real Madrid vs Monchengladbach (8pm)
This group is ever so tight, with all four teams still in with a chance of qualification heading into this week’s final round of games.
The winners of Real’s home clash with Monchengladbach will top the section, while the visitors only need a point to progress, although that will also suit Madrid, as long as Inter overcome Shakhtar at San Siro.
However, Zinedine Zidane’s side will finish bottom if both they and Shakhtar lose, an unthinkable outcome for a team who have progressed from all 24 groups they have been in during the modern era of the Champions League.
The Ukrainians, meanwhile, will progress with a win, while a draw will also suffice if Real do not win. As for Antonio Conte’s Inter side, anything but a victory will see them eliminated, and even that scenario may not be enough if Real and Monchengladbach play out a draw in the Spanish capital.
Zidane insisted he is not contemplating losing his job if his side fail to progress from the Champions League group stage.
Local media reports suggest that Zidane will be sacked should Real not go through to the last 16, however the Frenchman insisted his only focus is on getting the three points, rather than his future.
“The club will do what they have to do (in the event of not qualifying), as they always do, but I’m only thinking about the game,” Zidane told a news conference.
“I’m not thinking about anything else other than winning. I’m focused on tomorrow’s game and we know what we have to do. It’ll be tough, but we need to be able to walk off the pitch satisfied with our work.
“We know there’s another game going on (Inter versus Shakhtar), but we’re only thinking about our game. We’re up against a tough side who will make life difficult for us.
“We know exactly what the situation is. We want to get the three points and finish top of the group; that’s what we’re all thinking about. All matches are important but this is a great chance to show what we are as a team.”
Group C: Sorted – bar third spot
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Man City vs Marseille, Olympiakos vs Porto (8pm)
Manchester City are already through as group winners, with Porto joining them as runners-up.
Olympiakos will finish third as long as Marseille do not pick up more points than they do due to their head-to-head away goals superiority
Group D: It’s must-win for Ajax
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: Ajax v Atalanta, FC Midtjylland vs Liverpool (5.55pm)
Atalanta need just a point at the Johan Cruyff Arena on Wednesday to progress, whereas Ajax must beat the Italians to go through.
Liverpool are already through as group winners and Midtjylland will finish fourth regardless.
Group H: Man United are out
Matchday six fixtures – Wednesday Dec 9: PSG vs Istanbul Basaksehir, RB Leipzig 3-2 Manchester United
While Manchester United have exited the competition, the final outcome of Group H has yet to be determined following the abandonment of the PSG vs Istanbul Basaksehir fixture on Tuesday following an alleged racist incident.
The game will be completed on Wednesday night. But even a victory for Basaksehir will not be sufficient for them to finish third in the group above United, who drop down into the Europa League.
Who could still qualify for the Europa League?
The third-placed teams all drop down into the Europa League last 32, along with Arsenal, Leicester, Tottenham and Rangers.
Group A: Salzburg or Atletico or Lokomotiv
Group B: Monchengladbach, Shakhtar, Real or Inter
Group C: Olympiacos or Marseille
Group D: Atalanta or Ajax
Champions League last 16 draw – what is the format?
There will be two seeding pots: one consisting of the eight group winners and the other of the eight runners-up.
UEFA says the exact draw procedure will be confirmed before the ceremony but no team can at this stage play a club from their own association – meaning no all-Premier League clashes just yet.
The ties will take place over two legs, with seeded group winners playing away in the first legs and at home in the return matches.
Champions League knockout stage – when will the games be played?
February 15/16 & March 16/17, 2021: Round of 16
April 6/14, 2021: Quarter-finals
April 17 & May 5, 2021: Semi-finals
May 29, 2021: Final (Istanbul)