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Now-or-never for CL hopefuls

AFP
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Claim a point!Coach Antonio Conte has called on Juventus to make amends for their roller-coaster Champions League.photo: ap
Claim a point!Coach Antonio Conte has called on Juventus to make amends for their roller-coaster Champions League.photo: ap

Holders Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona are already through to the Champions League round of 16.

Eight other places are up for grabs when the groups end on Tuesday and Wednesday. A quick look at what’s at stake on Tuesday:

Man United v Shakhtar Donetsk

Smarting from their fifth Premier League defeat of the season, already qualified Manchester United host Shakhtar seeking some much needed European solace. David Moyes will want a quick and sharp response from his team as a draw is essential to take Group A honours and give United a much needed boost ahead of the crammed Christmas domestic programme. Shakhtar must match Bayer Leverkusen’s result to qualify.

Real Sociedad v Leverkusen

Bayer Leverkusen will qualify for the last 16 at the expense of Shakhtar as long as they see off winless Real and the Ukrainians lose at Old Trafford. A draw will be enough for Leverkusen if Shakhtar lose thanks to their superior head-to-head.

Galatasaray v Juventus

A draw would be enough to see Juventus through to the knock-out stages, given their better head-to-head record against Copenhagen than Galatasaray’s, but even a draw is a tall order in the Istanbul cauldron the Turks call home. Playmaker Andrea Pirlo will miss what is their most important test of the season so far with knee ligament damage.

FC Copenhagen v Real Madrid

Copenhagen have only pride left to play for as even an unlikely victory over Real would leave them in third place in the group and out of the competition.

Benfica v Paris Saint Germain

The hosts have more to play for than the visitors, who are already assured of being group winners. Benfica, though, must better the result of Greek side Olympiakos if they are to reach the last-16. Lisbon is hosting the Champions League final but it is unlikely that Benfica will emulate Bayern Munich in appearing in a final on home turf given their qualification is out of their hands.

Olympiakos v Anderlecht

The Greek side should logically seal their place in the knockout stages at home to a Belgian outfit which has garnered just one point from their five games – albeit a draw with PSG – and whom the hosts trounced 3-0 in Belgium with Kostas Mitroglou scoring a hat-trick.

Bayern Munich v Man City

Defending champions Bayern will win the group with a draw or with a defeat that is no bigger than their 3-1 away victory in Manchester in the teams’ first game.

Viktoria Plzen v CSKA Moscow

Neither side can make the last-16, leaving a battle to finish third and claim a spot in the Europa League knockout rounds.AFP


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