Today is the last leg of Match Day 5. With only 1 Match Day left, several teams are scrambling to qualify for the knockout round. Two teams from each group move on to a home and away aggregate scoring knockout competition. Yesterday, half of the games were played with tthe remaining being played now. Here is a summary of where things sit as of now:
With all teams in action today, Porto and PSG have all but wrapped up qualification to the knockout. Porto is good with 10 and PSG needs at least one point to get to 10. While Kyiv can get to 10, it won’t happen.
With all teams in action today, qualification is a three horse race between Schalke (8), Arsenal (7), and Olympiacos (6). If Shalke gets a result today at home against Olympiacos and Arsenal hosting Montpelier, they both should move on. Those games are on today. At halftime, Arsenal is tied 0-0 with Montpelier and Schalke and Olympiacos are tied 0-0.
Malaga is surprising all as they have already qualified for the knockout. With financial problems looming over their team, rumors of an inability to meet payroll, firesale of players, including the star Santi Cazorla to Arsenal, who would have thought they would be this consistent? Milan (5) is playing at Anderlecht (4) today with the winner gaining some separation for the final spot. In Matchday 6, Malaga hosts Anderlecht with nothing to gain. Anderlecht may benefit by playing against a weak Malaga team. On the other hand, Milan will host Zenit in a key match. Whoever gets the points today in the Milan – Anderlecht match will have the edge. Milan, of course, lacks some punch without Zlatan and Thiago, but still have plenty of talent to mix it up.
Milan and Anderlecht are tied at half.
Group D (GROUP OF DEATH!)
This has been the best group to watch. If you have a chance, Man City is hosting Real Madrid today. It is more than likely that Man City will fail to qualify. Failing to get a result against Real Madrid will seal their fate. On the other hand, the Group Leader (and favorite to finish on top), Borussia Dortmund are finally having some European success after years of consistency in the Bundesliga. Jurgen Klopp’s team is the only team to have defeated FC Hollywood (Bayern Munich) 5 straight times. My hope, Dortmund and Ajax move on with the whiners, Mourinho and Mancini left weeping.
Dortmund is rolling Ajax 3-0 at half and Real Madrid is up 1-0 at half.
Will the remaining Champions fail to qualify? Doubtful but possible. They are currently sitting at 7 and will host the Norwegian Champs in MD 6. On the other hand, Juventus is smarting from its poor form early as they may be playing the best soccer of the group. Their dismantling of Chelsea yesterday (3-0) with a 3-5-2 formation cost Matteo his job. Juventus will need something in its game in the Ukraine as Shakhtar are moving on. My prediction, Chelsea squeaks through again. Will they get Pep?
Bayern Munich and Valencia are through with 10 each — the only issue is seeding. While I picked Bayern to win it all, it must be said that they have not been the most impressive team from Germany.
Barcelona are through with 12 points even after losing to Celtic. The last spot is between Benfica and Celtic, both tied after 5 games with 7 points. All things being equal, Benfica goes through as the winner of the H2H as they defeated Celtic yesterday. On the plus side for Celtic, they host bottom dweller Spartak in MD6 while Benfica travels to the Camp Nou to play Barca. Edge – Celtic.
After 5 games, Manchester United is through with 12 points. Cluj and Galatasaray are tied with 7 each. While Man U is struggling of late, losing to Norwich City in the EPL and Galatasaray yesterday, they host Cluj in MD6 and while Galatasaray travel to Braga. Depending on the squad that Man U sends out, it seems the advantage to move on goes to Galatasaray. All things being equal, they hold the H2H over Cluj too.
Games are at halftime today. Check in and watch! And, Happy Thanksgiving!
Follow us on twitter: @soccerthought