By Gbenga Isaac
Group A leaders Manchester United take on CSKA Moscow at Old Trafford. The Red Devils’ narrow loss to Basel on matchday five means they need at least a point to qualify as group winners. United are riding high after beating Arsenal 3-1 at the weekend, and with the Manchester Derby coming up this weekend, Mourinho is certain to rest key players for the clash.
CSKA are on nine points, the same as Basel, but the Swiss side have a better head-to-head record. CSKA must beat United if they are to advance to the last 16. With United unbeaten in their last 38 games at home, it is hard to see the Russian side leaving with all three points.
Basel have victory on their minds against Benfica at the Estadio da Luz. The Swiss side secured a crucial 1-0 win over Man United in their last game which blew the race wide open for the second spot. They will now qualify for the next round if CSKA fail to beat Man United. Their first encounter against the already eliminated Benfica ended in a shock 5-0 win in favor of the Swiss.
Benfica have nothing to play for, and Basel will look to take advantage of that.
Bayern Munich and PSG will slug it out for Group B honours at the Allianz Arena. PSG have the advantage going into the game as they were 3-0 winners at the Parc Des Princes on matchday 2.
Bayern need to overturn that result if they are to win the group. With the French side’s form in all competitions, it is going to be a difficult task. PSG have scored 24 goals in the competition this season, the most by any team, with their last game ending with a 7-1 thrashing of Celtic. Both teams have played each other seven times in the past, with PSG winning five and Bayern winning two.
Celtic entertain Anderlecht at Celtic Park. Celtic are already eliminated but will advance to the Europa League knockout phase by avoiding a defeat here.
Anderlecht have lost all five of their games, leaving them at the bottom and with virtually nothing to play for. They have scored just one goal and conceded 17, which is the same as Celtic.
Group C action gets underway with Chelsea hosting Atletico Madrid at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea have already qualified but they need a win to ensure they finish as group winners. Atletico on the other hand seem to have given themselves too much to do. They must win here and hope Roma draw or lose to Qarabag. Anything else and they are eliminated.
Roma will take on eliminated Qarabag at the Stadio Olimpico. The Serie A side lost to Atletico on matchday five which opened the race for second spot. Should Roma win they will not secure qualification, but they will also top the group if Chelsea fail to beat Atletico. But if they draw or lose and Atletico win, they will be eliminated. Qarabag were hammered 4-0 by Chelsea in their last game, and with two points from five games, even the Europa League is out of their reach.
Barcelona will have nothing to play for at the Camp Nou against Sporting Lisbon. The Blaugrana have already sealed top spot in Group D following a goalless draw with Juventus on matchday five. Sporting on the other hand have a lot to play for. Back to back draws for Juventus means they trail Juve by a point. They need to pull off a surprise win and pray the Old Lady lose at Olympiakos. Barca have 11 points, three more than Juve. A better head to head record means even with a loss they will remain top.
Juventus will be needing a win away to Olympiakos at the George Karaiskakis Stadium. Two draws in their last two games means they are just a point ahead of third placed Sporting Lisbon. While it is unlikely Sporting will be able to defeat Barcelona, Juve will nonetheless aim to avoid unnecessary surprises. Olympiakos are eliminated after picking up just a point from five games. They will finish bottom of the log even with a win.