With half the Champions League group-stage fixtures played, Manchester United, Barcelona, Porto and Malaga already harbour genuine ambitions of securing a place in the last 16 on matchday four.
All three teams have 100 per cent records from their first three games, and a fourth win will see them safely into the next round. Depending on results elsewhere, they could even guarantee themselves top spot.
Barcelona travel to Glasgow knowing that victory over Celtic will clinch qualification, while Manchester United visit Sporting Braga and Malaga head for the San Siro to face AC Milan.
In some of the tighter brackets, Schalke host Arsenal with both sides looking to take control of Group B, while Borussia Dortmund and Real Madrid will fight it out for top spot in Group D at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Chelsea will be looking for revenge when they host Shakhtar Donetsk, who ran out 2-1 winners two weeks ago. Elsewhere in Group E, Juventus welcome Nordsjaelland as the Bianconeri aim for their first win of the campaign.
The Danes are one of several sides who desperately need a victory if they are to defy the odds and qualify for the next round. Manchester City, Montpellier, Anderlecht, Benfica and Galatasaray are the other teams who have just one point to their name so far.
And after slumping to three defeats from three matches, both Lille and Dinamo Zagreb will be knocked out of the Champions League if they lose to Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain respectively.
- Porto can qualify for the last 16 with victory over Dynamo Kiev.
- Dinamo Zagreb will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to PSG.
- Schalke can clinch Europa League football at least if they beat Arsenal, and Olympiakos beat Montpellier
- Arsenal can do likewise if they defeat Schalke and Olympiakos beat Montpellier
- Malaga will qualify for the last 16 if they overcome AC Milan.
- Malaga can also qualify as group winners if they win and Zenit St Petersburg fail to beat Anderlecht.
- Borussia Dortmund can secure a Europa League spot at least if they beat Real Madrid and Ajax defeat Manchester City
- Real Madrid can do likewise if they overcome Dortmund and Ajax beat Manchester City
- Shakhtar can qualify for the Europa League at least if they beat Chelsea and Nordsjaelland fail to take three points from Juventus.
- Valencia and BATE Borisov can secure Europa League football at least if they win or draw, as long as Bayern Munich beat Lille.
- If Bayern do beat Lille, the Germans can finish no lower than third.
- Lille will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to Bayern.
- Barcelona will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Celtic.
- Barcelona can also qualify as group winners if they win and Benfica get at least a point against Spartak Moscow.
- Benfica will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to Spartak Moscow due to an inferior head-to-head record.
- Manchester United will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Sporting Braga.
- Manchester United can also qualify as group winners if they win and CFR Cluj fail to beat Galatasaray.
- Galatasaray will be eliminated from the Champions League if they lose to CFR Cluj due to an inferior head-to-head record.
The finale of the 2012 European Championship group stage qualifiers has arrived. With only one more matchday to go, it’s time for the proverbial do or die.
Germany became the first team to join co-hosts Poland and Ukraine in the tournament finals, and Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and England have since followed them.
That leaves the likes of France, Russia, Greece, Portugal, Belgium, Serbia and Scotland, among others, to tussle for the remaining nine spots: four will go to the group winners, one to the best runners-up amongst all the groups, and four more via the play-offs.
Which teams will safely secure automatic entry to the Euro 2012 finals this Tuesday? Who will have to settle for the two-legged play-off? And which nation will have their hearts broken?
First, here is a reminder of the qualification rules:
– Group winners qualify automatically for the finals.
– One group runner-up with the best record (most points in games against the top five teams in the group) will also gain direct qualification.
– The remaining eight runners-up will contest a two-legged play-off and the winners will qualify to make up the 16 finalists.
– If teams are level on points at the end of the group matches, the following tie-breaker criteria will take precedence:
i.) higher number of points won in the group games between the teams in question
ii.) superior goal difference in the group games between the teams in question only
iii.) higher number of goals scored in the group games between the teams in question only
iv.) higher number of goals scored away from home in the group games between the teams in question only
Q = Qualified for last 16
W = Group winners
X = Cannot advance to last 16
E = Qualified for Europa League round of 32
|Bayern Munich v Villarreal
|Napoli v Manchester City
- Bayern Munich will qualify for the last 16 with a victory or a draw on matchday five. They will be guaranteed as group winners if they beat Villarreal and Manchester City fail to match their result.
- Manchester City can only qualify for the last 16 on matchday five with a win over Napoli. Victory will also ensure they stay in the race to finish as group winners.
- Napoli will not progress ay further if they lose to Manchester City. A win will not only keep them in contention for a last 16 berth but will guarantee them a place in the Europa League round of 32.
- Villarreal cannot advance any further in the Champions League. They can only stay in the race for a Europa League spot if they beat Bayern Munich and Napoli fail to win against Manchester City.
|CSKA Moscow v Lille
|Trabzonspor v Inter
- Inter will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid defeat to Trabzonspor. A victory will ensure they win the group with one matchday to spare. A draw will be enough provided CSKA Moscow do not beat Lille.
- CSKA Moscow will qualify for the last 16 as group runners-up if they win on matchday five and Trabzonspor lose.
- Trabzonspor cannot guarantee last 16 qualification on matchday five even with a victory and a CSKA Moscow defeat. However, they will be out of contention if they lose to Inter and CSKA win. They will ensure a Europa League spot as long as Lille fail to at least equal their result on matchday five.
- Lille need a win to stay in the race for a last 16 berth. A draw against CSKA Moscow with a 2-2 score or higher will keep them in contention, provided Trabzonspor lose on matchday five.
|Manchester United v Benfica
|Otelul Galati v Basel
- Manchester United will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid defeat on matchday five and Basel lose to Otelul Galati. They will be guaranteed as group winners if they beat Benfica and Basel fail to win.
- Benfica will qualify for the last 16 as long as they avoid defeat on matchday five and Basel lose to Otelul Galati. They will be guaranteed as group winners if they beat Manchester United, regardless of Basel’s result.
- Basel must avoid defeat on matchday five and hope Benfica do not win to stay in contention for a last 16 place. They will, however, be guaranteed a place in the Europa League round of 32 as long as they do not lose to Otelul Galati.
- Otelul Galati cannot advance any further in the Champions League. They will be eliminated from European competition altogether if they fail to win against Basel.
|Lyon v Ajax
|Real Madrid v Dinamo Zagreb
- Real Madrid have qualified for the last 16. They will win the group on matchday five if they beat Dinamo Zagreb. A draw will be enough provided Ajax fail to defeat Lyon.
- Ajax will be assured of a last 16 spot with a win at Lyon. A score draw will be sufficient as they drew 0-0 at home in the reverse fixture.
- Lyon must win on matchday five to stay in the hunt for a last 16 berth. However, they will secure a place in the Europa League provided Dinamo Zagreb do not better their result.
- Dinamo Zagreb cannot advance any further in the Champions League. They will be eliminated from European competition altogether if they lose at Real Madrid. However, a victory will not be enough if Lyon win against Ajax.