LONDON ( Associated Press) – Barcelona are teetering on the brink of a European precipice and are counting on a miracle to avoid plunging into the Champions League group stage for the second year in a row.
The Azulgranas have to beat Bayern Munich at home – already classified in their key – and that Inter Milan will not beat Viktoria Plzen at the San Siro.
“We are fine, you have to believe, the team is with desire, with intensity,” said Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez after a 4-0 win over Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league. “The feelings are great.”
It was the Catalan team’s second consecutive win in a domestic tournament after a 3–1 defeat against Real Madrid in the Classic and a 3–3 draw at home against Inter, a result which left them on the brink of elimination from Europe .
Before the final day of the group stage, five teams have secured their places in the round of 16: Real Madrid, Bayern, Manchester City, Napoli and Bruges, having already qualified for the knockout rounds.
Here are some issues to consider:
Spaniards are suffering
While Madrid have already secured their place with two games to play, the other Spanish teams – Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Sevilla – face possible elimination.
Barcelona and Seville are in the most complicated situations. Atletico, who host Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, can close in Group B with two wins. Barcelona could play at home against a team already eliminated from Group C on Wednesday if Inter beat Viktoria Plzeň, which is bottom of the group. First game of the day.
chelsea on the rise
Back-to-back wins over Milan lifted Chelsea from the bottom of Group E to the top. The two-time tournament champion is still in line to qualify. Only three points separate the four teams in the sector when Chelsea take on Esports Salzburg on Tuesday and Milan travel to face Dinamo Zagreb. The loser will most likely be in Croatia. If they tie, the winner between Salzburg and Chelsea will advance. Salzburg want their pass for the second year in a row. Chelsea have not failed to advance to the last 16 since the 2012–13 season.
Even if Chelsea lose in Austria, they will have another chance to advance when the Croats visit Stamford Bridge on the final day.
Of the other English teams, Tottenham are in a more tight Group, D, and will advance if they beat Sporting at home on Wednesday, while Liverpool need to move ahead of Napoli in Group A at Ajax on Wednesday. Only one digit is required.
Lionel Messi will look to continue his stellar run with Paris Saint-Germain, who have remained unbeaten this season and secure a place in the knockout rounds against bottom line Maccabi Haifa in Group H on Tuesday. Even with a draw at the Parc des Princes, it will be enough if Juventus don’t win at Benfica. Messi has again shone together with Neymar, as he did during their time at Barcelona. Messi’s association with Kylian Mbappe has also improved. The Argentine set up the Frenchman for both of his goals in Friday’s Ligue 1 match, with Mbappe showing mercy on Messi’s goal.
Meanwhile, Olympique de Marseille fell in the local tournament after three straight losses. Europe remains an escape route for the 1993 champions. A win for Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday would give the French a third successive Group D win, and boost their chances of finishing first to shut out Tottenham.
Bayern does not miss Lewandowski
Cameroon striker Eric Maxime Choupo-Moting helped Bayern forget about Robert Lewandowski ahead of their Group C showdown at Barcelona on Wednesday. Lewandowski, who scored 344 goals in 375 games for Bayern between 2014-2012, moved to Barcelona, where he continued with his good form.
There were doubts that Bayern would miss the pole due to their presence in the field, sentiments reinforced by four straight games without a win in the Bundesliga. But those concerns have been left behind since Choupo-Moting’s ouster, with Choupo-Moting scoring four goals after starting three games, linking up well with Serge Gnabry in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Hoffenheim. scored again in the win.
Premature departure from Juventus?
Juventus face the prospect of being knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time since the 2013–14 season. Any result other than a win at Benfica on Tuesday in Group H will spell a premature goodbye to Juventus, who are five points behind the Portuguese and PSG.
Even a win would still leave Juventus with an obligation to beat PSG on the last date. Both PSG and Benfica are undefeated in the tournament.