With just one matchday remaining in Champions League group play, 12 soccer clubs clinched their path to the knockout round. The remaining four spots in the knockout stage are still up for grabs. Five squads — Napoli, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain and Benfica — all won or drew their fifth match this week to remain unbeaten.
Napoli and Liverpool punched their ticket into the knockout phase following a pair of 3-0 wins Wednesday. Napoli defeated Rangers at home, while Liverpool shut out Ajax on the road. Napoli is 5-0-0 in Champions League with a +16 goal differential and the club currently leads Serie A with a 9-2-0 record.
Liverpool will host Napoli Tuesday to determine who takes first and second place. Liverpool needs to win by at least four goals to leap Napoli in the table.
Club Brugge and FC Porto will advance out of Group B after Athlético Madrid and Bayer Leverkusen drew Wednesday. Athlético had a chance to remain alive with a last-minute penalty kick, but Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukáš Hrádecký denied Athlético midfielder Yannick Carrasco’s attempt.
Club Brugge leads the group by just one point over FC Porto. Brugge will finish the group stage at Leverkusen Tuesday, while Porto welcomes Athlético.
Bayern Munich and Inter Milan clinched the top-two seeds in the group following a pair of shutout victories Wednesday over Barcelona and Viktoria Plzeň, respectively.
Bayern went into Camp Nou and shut out Barca, 3-0. Barcelona’s stunning defeat marks the first time in over 20 years the Catalan club has failed to reach the Champions League knockout round in consecutive years.
Inter hosted winless Viktroia Plzeň and cruised to a 4-0 win. Inter locked in the No. 2 seed as they trail Bayern by five points.
The most competitive group thus far will ultimately come down to matchday six. Tottenham will face Marseille Tuesday on French soil, while Eintracht Frankfurt travels to Portugal to take on Sporting CP. The Hotspur lead the group with eight points, but Sporting and Frankfurt each have seven and Marseille has six. Hypothetically, last-place Marseille could jump the first-place Spurs with a win.
All to play for in Group D…#UCL pic.twitter.com/7pliyHEcPU
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 26, 2022
Following a shaky start to the season, Chelsea (3-1-1) clinched the top seed following a 2-1 road victory over Red Bull Salzburg. Salzburg and AC Milan will face off Wednesday in Italy for second place. Milan has a one-point advantage over Salzburg and will advance to the knockout stage with a win or draw.
Following the elimination of Barcelona, Athlètico and Sevilla, Real Madrid is the only La Liga team that will advance to the knockout phase for the first time in over two decades.
Celtic is eliminated with only two points, but RB Leipzig and Shakhtar Donetsk will battle for second place. Leipzig fell to Shakhtar 4-1 at home, but the German club holds a three-point lead over the Ukranian squad. With a win or draw, Leipzig will advance.
Manchester City drew Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Tuesday in Germany as the two clubs effectively eliminated Sevilla and Copenhagen. Man City striker Erling Haaland failed to score against Dortmund after the Norwegian phenom netted the go-ahead goal against his former club last month.
It’s that man again!
Erling Haaland delivers an acrobatic goal to match the narrative in his first game vs. Dortmund since leaving there for Man City this summer. And what a gorgeous assist that is from João Cancelo…
(via @Zona_TUDN) pic.twitter.com/O0RLkLf0Xc
— SI Soccer (@si_soccer) September 14, 2022
City maintains a three-point advantage over Dortmund and owns the head-to-head. Therefore, the seeding will not change after the final group-play matches.
Paris Saint-Germain and SL Benfica both secured their spot in the knockout stage Wednesday. PSG forwards Lionel Messi and Kylian Mbappè each scored a pair of goals en-route to a 7-2 home victory over Maccabi Haifa. Mbappè tied Liverpool forward Mo Salah for the most goals (6) in the Champions League this season.
Benfica defeated Juventus 4-3 in Portugal Wednesday to eliminate the Italian club. Benfica and PSG are tied with 11 points and both head-to-head matches resulted in a 1-1 draw. As it stands, PSG would win the tiebreaker for the top seed as their +8 goal differential leads Benfica’s +4 differential.