And just like that, we are entering the sixth and final round of UCL group stage, where we will get to see the final 16 fixtures, which will determine the faith of the 32 teams, who will get presented with one last chance to earn a spot in the playoffs of UCL or at least punch their tickets for the Europa League competition.
Paris SG and Real Madrid have already established themselves as the top dogs of group A, meaning they are guaranteed to advance into the playoffs, so the last round will not change anything for them. That being said, the third spot is heavily contested between Club Brugge KV and Galatasaray. The two teams will meet with Real Madrid and PSG respectively where they will both be chasing points which would earn them a spot in the Europa League. The Belgians are currently one point ahead of the Turkish team, meaning Galatasaray need to defeat PSG to finish as the third seed, which will be a tough task, yet not entirely impossible one.
Bayern Munich and Tottenham are already through into the playoffs, while Crvena Zvezda hope they can keep ahold of their third spot, which would lead them into the Europa League. That being said, they are chased by Olympiacos who are only two points behind them on the standings. The decisive match for them will come on Wednesday when Crvena Zvezda meet with Olympiacos, who have the same ambitions as them. Olympiacos will be chasing all three points, and while they first the first round against Crvena Zvezda (1:3), the Greek squad will hope the home-court advantage will help them achieve glory.
Manchester City are already through into the playoffs, while the race for the second spot has all the remaining three teams involved. Shakhtar Donetsk are currently second in the group with six points, followed by Dinamo Zagreb with five and Atalanta with four. Atalanta will meet with Shakhtar in round six, while Zagreb will take on Man City in what should prove to be an exciting round, that will decide which of the three will make it into the final 16.
Group D, unlike the first two groups still waits for the second team to join Juventus in the UCL playoffs. Atletico Madrid had a solid chance of achieving that, but after dropping two in a row, they have found themselves only one point clear of Bayern Leverkusen who will look to derail the Spanish squad. Nonetheless, Atl. Madrid’s decisive match will be against the whipping boys of Group D – Lokomotiv Moscow, while Leverkusen need to defeat Juventus in order to catch up to Atl. Madrid. One point separates the two sides and the fixtures seem to favour Atleti. That being said, there is always room for an upset win of the German club and another disappointing result from Atletico.
Despite being five rounds deep, no team has managed to secure a spot in the playoffs just yet. Liverpool are holding onto 10 points, followed by Napoli with nine and Salzburg with seven. All four matches will be played this Tuesday, featuring a clash between Liverpool and Salzburg and Napoli and Genk. Any of the three teams can make it through, but for that to happen they need to deliver one last time this Tuesday.
Barcelona are already through into the final 16, leaving Inter (7 points) and Borussia Dortmund (7 points) to fight for the final spot. Inter have objectively a tougher road to the playoffs, seeing how they are meeting with Barcelona this Tuesday, while Borussia are set to clash with Slavia Prague. Dortmund might be in a favourable spot to advance, but not everything is lost for the Italians, who have already proven their quality before and are ready to do it again at their home stadium.
RB Leipzig is already through into the playoffs, while Zenit and Lyon both hold onto seven points and equal chances of making it into the final 16. This Tuesday, Zenit will travel to Portugal where they will meet with Benfica, while Lyon will take on Leipzig in France. The two teams have the exact same points, record and GD (+1), meaning this race to the top two seed just might prove to be one of the closest yet.
Ajax, Valencia and Chelsea have not yet decided which two teams will make it into the playoffs and which team will enter the Europa League. Ajax are currently leading the group with 10 points, followed by both Valencia and Chelsea with eight. The Dutch team will clash with Valencia in round six, leaving Chelsea to flex their muscles against the struggling Lille. It would be safe to say that Chelsea have the easier matchup in round six, that being said, we can not simply award them the ticket to playoffs before they prove themselves against Lille who already put up a solid fight in their first meeting (1-2).