Barcelona’s first Champions League without Lionel Messi in nearly two decades could end in the group stage if they fail to beat Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
Atlético de Madrid, current champions of Spain, also risk their lives in the top European tournament with a visit to Porto on Tuesday.RELATED
“I always say that words are useless, only facts are useful and I absolutely trust my team,” said mattress coach Diego Simeone on Monday. “I know their character and I trust them.”
Both Atleti and Barça appeal to self-love to keep going in a competition in which they have been regular protagonists.
Both arrive touched by unexpected defeats at home in the Spanish League, which have taken them away from the race for the domestic title. Barcelona succumbed 1-0 to Real Betis, while Atlético let themselves go back by losing 2-1 against Mallorca.
“I hope it doesn’t affect us because on Wednesday we have to compete like animals to go to the round of 16,” said Xavi Hernández, who has barely been a Barça helmsman for a month.
We would have to go back to the 2003-04 season to remember the last time that the Catalan club did not access the knockout phase of the Champions League. They face the last day of Group E as guards for already classified Bayern and two points ahead of third-party Benfica. But a draw or a defeat in Germany will allow their Portuguese rival to qualify if they defeat the eliminated Dynamo of Kiev at home.
Atlético, on the other hand, is located last in Group B. They have to beat Porto, second in the key, yes or yes, and pray that Milan does not defeat a Liverpool that has tied the first place.
FIRST OF GROUP
Classified in advance, the current champion Chelsea and Real Madrid will aim this week to be first in their keys to be able to have less demanding matches in theory in the eighth.
Chelsea and Juventus add up the same number of points, but the English mark the passage of Group H for direct results. A victory at Zénit St. Petersburg on Wednesday would secure them first place. Juve will close in the field of Malmo, which on Saturday revalidated its title in the Swedish league.
Madrid, 13 times European champions, will be home on Tuesday against Inter Milan. The duel will define the final order at the top of Group D. Madrid leads by two points and a draw will be enough to finish first.
More intriguing will be the outcome of Group G on Wednesday. All four teams – Lille, Salzburg, Seville and Wolfsburg – are seeking first place.
EUROPEAN LEAGUE, THE COMFORT
Brugge, Leipzig and Young Boys have no chance of qualifying for the last 16, but could join Borussia Dortmund, Sheriff and Zenit in the play-offs for the knockout stage of the Europa League. Brugge and Leipzig battle it out for third place in Group A, with Manchester City securing first place and Paris Saint-Germain second. Leipzig will host City on Tuesday in an empty stadium due to coronavirus restrictions and with an interim manager following the firing of Jesse Marsch on Sunday. PSG will be local to Bruges.
The Young Boys’ Swiss will have to beat Manchester United on Wednesday and hope that Villarreal will come out of their visit to Atalanta with flying colors.