Avoid The Lame Duck Games – My Champions League Picks This Week

By Ian John
February 23, 2022

We have now reached Matchday 6 in this season’s Champions League and that means that a number of teams have already clinched a place in the next phase of the tournament, while for others, there is still plenty to play for.

For those teams already qualified, especially those that have also cliched top spot in their group or who cannot improve on second spit, there is nothing to play for in these final games and so, these teams could well field weaker teams, to give their star men a rest ahead of a busy festive period of games.

So, in this article, we will identify what the situation for all 32 teams in the competition is, which teams have qualified, who can still qualify, who has earned at least third in their group and who has been knocked out and everything in between.

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So what is the situation in the Champions League as we head into Matchday 6? Let’s look at things in a bit more detail.

Looking for a preview of the Champions League Round of 16. We recap the Round of 16 first leg with a preview of what is to come.

Champions League – Confirmed Group Positions

We have outlined below the position of the teams in each group that have been confirmed. Teams in bold have qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League. Teams also in italics have been confirmed as the group winners too.

  • Group A1st – Man City, 2nd – Paris St Germain, 3rd TBC (RB Leipzig or Club Brugge)
  • Group B 1st – Liverpool, 2nd TBC, 3rd TBC, 4th – TBC (Porto, At. Madrid or AC Milan)
  • Group C 1st – Ajax, 2nd – Sporting Lisbon, 3rd – B.Dortmund, 4th
  • Group D 1st TBC, 2nd TBC (Real Madrid or Inter), 3rd – Sheriff Tiraspol, 4thDonetsk.
  • Group E 1st – Bay Munich, 2nd – TBC, 3rd – TBC (Barcelona or Benfica), 4th. Dynamo Kyiv
  • Group F – 1st – Man Utd, 2nd – TBC, 3rd – TBC, 4th – TBC (Villarreal, Atalanta or Y. Boys)
  • Group G – Everything still to be decided (Lille, Salzburg, Sevilla & Wolfsburg)
  • Group H – 1st – TBC, 2nd – TBC (Chelsea or Juventus), 3rd Zenit, 4th – Malmo

So what does this translate into when it comes to the different competitions?

  • Top Seeds (Group Winners) – Manchester City, Liverpool, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich, Manchester United
  • Unseeded (2nd in the Group) – Paris St Germain, Sporting Lisbon
  • Qualified but 1st or 2nd in Group not decided – Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Juventus, Chelsea
  • Could Still Qualify For Round of 16– AC Milan, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Benfica, Lille, FC Porto, Red Bull Salzburg, Sevilla, Villarreal, Wolfsburg
  • Qualified for the Europa League (3rd in Group) – Borussia Dortmund, Sheriff Tiraspol, Zenit St Petersburg
  • Could Still Qualify for the Europa League but are out of the Champions League – Club Brugge, Red Bull Leipzig, Young Boys
  • Confirmed As Finishing Bottom of Group – Besiktas, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dynamo Kyiv, Malmo

With this information available, it is now relatively easy to skim through the Champions League fixtures this week and pick out the games that still have plenty to play for and these are as follows:

Tuesday 7th December

Group B – AC Milan v Liverpool & FC Porto v Atletico Madrid

Liverpool have already qualified from Group B as winners, so it is the race for second spot that will be decided on Tuesday. Porto hold that place at the moment and if they win, they qualify. A draw may also be enough if Liverpool beat AC Milan. However, if Porto lose then this means Atletico could progress, once again if Liverpool beat or draw with Milan. Milan need to win and hope the Porto v Atletico game finishes as either a draw or Atletico win in order for the Italians to progress. I can see Milan beating what is likely to be a below strength Liverpool team (Evens), but I feel Porto may and Atletico may play out a draw (23/10).

Prediction – 2nd AC Milan, 3rd FC Porto, 4th Atletico Madrid

Group D – Real Madrid v Inter Milan

This game is a straight up match to decide who finishes top of the group. Inter must win the game to pip Real to top spot and earn a seeding in the draw for the Round of 16, but having lost at home to Real on Matchday 1, I can’t see that happening here. Both teams are through so there is no issue with being eliminated and as such, I am backing Real to land the win (11/10) and with it claim top spot in the group.

Prediction – 1st Real Madrid, 2nd Inter Milan

Wednesday 8th December

Group H – Juventus v Malmo & Zenit St Petersburg v Chelsea

The early games on Wednesday will see Group H’s winners decided and it all boils down to who gets the best result out of Chelsea or Juventus. If Chelsea win, then they win the group. If Juventus win, they need Chelsea to draw or lose against Zenit in order to top the group. Given the quality of the teams in the top seed pot already and those likely to join them, these two are important. Juventus will beat Malmo I am sure (1/6 with bet365) but I would back Chelsea to bounce back from their loss against West Ham at the weekend to claim the win here (8/15).

Prediction – Chelsea to qualify 1st, Juventus 2nd.

Group E – Bayern Munich v Barcelona & Benfica v Dynamo Kyiv

Bayern Munich have already qualified as group winners, but second place in the group is up for grabs. Barcelona hold it at present, but they face a massive game in Germany against Bayern, who beat them 3-0 at the Nou Camp on matchday 1. In truth, even if Bayern are not at full strength for this clash, I’d still expect them to win the game (4/6). A defeat for Barcelona could be enough if Benfica can’t beat Dynamo Kyiv, but this game is in Portugal and I would expect the Portuguese side to claim a win here against the group’s bottom team. (3/10)

Prediction – Benfica to finish 2nd behind Bayern, Barcelona to finish 3rd.

Group F – Atalanta v Villarreal

Manchester United have clinched top spot in this group due to their win over Villarreal on Matchday 5. That leaves the Spaniards needing a draw or better against Atalanta in Italy to finish second in the group. That is a big ask for a team that has won one of its last five, compared to an Atalanta side that have won four of their last five and have beaten some notable teams in that stretch. I can see goals in this game but I feel that Atalanta may do just enough to squeak into knockout round here with the win (3/4).

Prediction – Atalanta to edge the win in a close game to clinch second ahead of the Spaniards.

Group G – Red Bull Salzburg v Seville, Wolfsburg v Lille

Every team in Group G can qualify with a win from the final group game. Lille and Red Bull would qualify with a draw and in what has been the tightest of groups, there is going to be plenty of drama in both games. In a way, knowing a win is enough is a help to all four teams but that doesn’t mean that they will get it and in the first game, I think Salzburg will do well to hold Sevilla to a draw (12/5). In the other game, I can see Lille getting the better of Wolfsburg on the counter with the German side needing to win and a Lille win (11/5) would ensure they top the group.

Prediction – 1st Lille, 2nd Red Bull Salzburg, 3rd Sevilla, 4th Wolfsburg

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