The UEFA Champions League group stage has reached judgement day; will there be a sting in the tail for some teams?
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Eight clubs will scrap it out for the four remaining round of 16 berths on Wednesday, guaranteeing drama until the end of another fascinating group phase.
Presented by Hotels.com, we pick out the potential headline-makers from the final set of group encounters.Play Champions League Fantasy Football
Wednesday 8 December
Group E: Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv, Bayern vs Barcelona
Group F: Man. United vs Young Boys, Atalanta vs Villarreal
Group G: Salzburg vs Sevilla, Wolfsburg vs LOSC
Group H: Juventus 1-0 Malmö, Zenit 3-3 Chelsea
All kick-offs 21:00 CET unless otherwise stated.
What to look out for?
Xavi hopes to avoid repeat elimination
You have to go back to season 2000/01 for the last time Barcelona failed to successfully navigate the group stage; however, the danger of elimination has never been as great as it is now. Xavi Hernández – then 20 – was part of the last Blaugrana side to suffer that fate and their new coach will know that a victory at Bayern will be required to progress if rivals Benfica see off bottom club Dynamo Kyiv in the other Group E fixture.
Full complement of contenders in Group G
The last time all four teams in a Champions League group harboured hopes of making it through on Matchday 6 was back in 2009/10 so the scenario in Group G is certainly rare. However, the solution is straightforward for the quartet – current top two LOSC and Salzburg need only avoid defeat while chasers Sevilla and Wolfsburg must win to make the last 16.
All or nothing for Atalanta
Atalanta are no strangers to group stage tension. Famously, two years ago, they lost their first three games and drew the fourth before posting a pair of wins to narrowly squeeze through. This time around, everything rides on their home meeting with Villareal in Group F – win and they will qualify; anything less and the Yellow Submarine will advance. "We can't have negative thoughts," says Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini. "It will be a spectacular match."
• The eight group winners will be paired with the eight runners-up when the UEFA Champions League round of 16 draw takes place at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on Monday 13 December. The live stream will begin at 12:00 CET.
Tuesday 7 December
Group A: Paris 4-1 Club Brugge, Leipzig 2-1 Man. City
Group B: Porto 1-3 Atlético de Madrid, AC Milan 1-2 Liverpool
Group C: Dortmund 5-0 Beşiktaş, Ajax 4-2 Sporting CP
Group D: Real Madrid 2-0 Inter, Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Sheriff
13 December 2021: Round of 16 draw
15/16/22/23 February & 8/9/15/16 March: Round of 16
18 March: Quarter-final & semi-final draws
5/6 & 12/13 April: Quarter-finals
26/27 April & 3/4 May: Semi-finals
28 May: Final (Gazprom Arena, St Petersburg, Russia)