It's not yet a done deal for Barcelona or Beşiktaş while Atlético, Napoli and Dortmund can still dream: we see what points tallies after matchday four usually herald progress to the last 16.
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It's not yet a done deal for Barcelona or Beşiktaş while Atlético Madrid, Napoli and Borussia Dortmund can still dream: we examine what points tallies after matchday four suggest a successful passage into next month's round of 16 draw.
There are 12 possible points totals teams can have with two matches to go: everything from zero to 12, except for 11. Here's how each tally stacks up since the current competition format began in 2003/04 ...
- 12 points: Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City are into the last 16 and although Manchester United are not quite there mathematically, all 18 teams out of 18 in our sample that won their first four games went through. United are the first such side not to be in the knockouts already, with two matches to spare; none of their predecessors failed to top their group.
- 10: Good news for Barcelona and Beşiktaş – even before already qualified Tottenham Hotspur this season, 40 out of 41 teams with three wins and a draw at this point made it to the knockout phase and 33 finished in first place. The exception were Porto in 2015/16, who lost 2-0 to Dynamo Kyiv and Chelsea and were overtaken by both.
- 9: A small warning sign for Shakhtar Donetsk: not including Bayern München this season, 39 out of 41 teams have progressed to the last 16 (22 as group winners). Napoli, in 2013/14, missed out on the highest possible total with which it's possible to come third – 12 points – in a three-way head-to-head behind Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal. It was also the Gunners who overhauled Olympiacos in 2015/16 having trailed them by six points with two games left.
- 8: With two wins and two draws, like Liverpool and Roma, 28 out of 31 teams have advanced, with 17 taking first place. The exceptions were CSKA Moskva (2006/07), Juventus (2009/10) and Manchester United (2011/12), the only one of the three to even get another point.
- 7: Still very much in positive territory for Chelsea, Juventus, Sevilla and Real Madrid, as 39 teams have gone through and 12 have been eliminated after starting with two wins, a draw and a defeat. Just ten of those sides ended up first, however.
- 6: Things are getting tighter now for Basel, CSKA Moskva and Porto but they're still in credit as 24 out of 42 teams in their position have made it through – six as group winners. Half of those six, like Wolfsburg, were outside the top two at this juncture. On the other hand, Ajax and Dynamo Kyiv in 2003/04, and Shakhtar (2007/08), came in fourth.
- 5: One win, two draws and a defeat produce this tally and Spartak Moskva will be relieved that 20 teams with that record have gone on to the next phase, while 18 have gone out. Three have finished top: AC Milan (2005/06), Barcelona (2009/10) and Monaco (2014/15).
- 4: This haul is achieved with a record of one win, one draw and two defeats – like Sporting CP and RB Leipzig – or having tied all four matches, but the signs are not good. 57 teams since 2003/04 have had four points at this stage, and only 13 have survived. Two ended in pole position, Panathinaikos in 2008/09 (after losing their first two games) and Arsenal in 2003/04.
- 3: Can Atlético Madrid or Napoli upset the odds (Celtic are already out)? Just two out of 46 teams with three points from four matches have qualified: Stuttgart, following three draws and a defeat in 2009/10, won their last two games at Rangers and against Unirea Urziceni – the latter a 3-1 victory that denied the Romanian side by a point; then, in 2015/16, Arsenal became the first to progress after one win and three losses, seeing off Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos, both 3-0, to pip the Greeks on head to head.
- 2: Qarabağ, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund and APOEL can still make it but only two out of 28 teams have survived two draws and two defeats to advance: Porto, as holders in 2004/05, and Manchester City, in 2014/15.
- 1: Olympiacos and Maribor have to make history as all 31 previous teams with just one point from four games have gone out, and only eight have ended up third (though that includes three from last year: Ludogorets, Rostov and Legia Warszawa).
- 0: Benfica, unlike Anderlecht and Feyenoord, are not yet out of top-two contention but none of the 26 teams without a point at this juncture since 2003/04 have gone through and not one avoided finishing fourth. Fifteen were to suffer six defeats – but at least six eventually won a game.