It’s Champions League Matchday 5, ladies and gentlemen! Grab your beer or a cup of mulled wine and get cozy as we are about to learn the first confirmed casualties of the 2017/2018 season. Here are the games to entertain your work week’s autumn evenings:
Tuesday 21st November*
Beşiktaş v. FC Porto
Spartak Moscow v. Maribor
Apoel Nicosia v. Real Madrid
Manchester City v. Feyenoord
Monaco v. RB Salzburg
Napoli v. Shakhtar Donetsk
Wednesday 22nd November
CSKA Moscow v. Benfica
Qarabag v. Chelsea
Atletico Madrid v. AS Roma
Basel v. Manchester United
Paris Saint-Germain v. Celtic
Anderlecht v. Bayern Munich
Sporting Lisbon v. Olympiacos
*Note: four games will start early this week (6pm CET), namely the home fixtures of Besiktas, Spartak Moscow, CSKA Moscow and Qarabag. This means an early deadline, set your reminders!
What is at stake this week?
Man U. will be seeking an early qualification into the Play-offs, so can easily settle for a draw. Basel, on the contrary, will prefer all three points from this one as they have to travel to Benfica in the last round and are currently on the same points (6) as CSKA Moscow. Russians will have a must win game against Benfica this week if they are to bid for a qualification spot. It’s a trip to Old Trafford for them in the last round. Benfica is all but relegated (due to goal difference mainly) and might only play for their pride.
This is easy: Two winnable games for mighty PSG and recovering Bayern. If the German sides manage to humiliate Anderlecht (in fact they need around 10 goals), we will witness a show-down in Munich in the last round. If this doesn’t happen though, the last game for these two will become a formality with PSG going top and Bayern accepting second.
What about Celtic and Anderlecht? Celtic managed to defeat Anderlecht in Belgium and has been overall better in defense throughout this Champions League. If both lose this week, the last round will be an international friendly. Have fun!
Atletico is almost out — to such an extent that it’s virtually certain. They need all six points against Roma and Chelsea, while expecting one of the pair to lose both remaining matches. Do you believe in this? I don’t, bye-bye Simeone. Qarabag is in fact only one point behind the Spaniards so maybe we can see them fighting for a Europa League spot?
Chelsea and Roma are playing for first. I feel that Chelsea have a slight advantage over the Italians: The Blues will host Atletico in the last round, but Roma will travel to Spain this week. Anyways, each is all but through and should enjoy the games without getting unnecessary injuries and suspensions.
Barcelona is almost through and can make Juventus’s last round really nervy, should they beat them this week in Turin. Sporting has a slight chance of catching the Italian champions if they can calm their nerves and defeat Olympiacos at home. If both conditions are met, Sporting will travel to Barca, and Juventus will travel to Greece in the last round with both on seven points and almost identical goal difference. Sensation, sensation please!!
This is probably the most entertaining group, with all three competing teams (sorry Maribor supporters) prioritizing attack over defense. If Liverpool can show their class with the three points from Sevilla trip, this will mean the automatic first spot and a stress-free game against Spartak Moscow in the last round. The Russians are hosting Maribor this week and must win it for the qualification chances.
Both Spartak and Sevilla will be traveling in the last round, but each will face an incomparable opposition: Spartak travels to Merseyside, and Sevilla goes to Slovenia. Who is your favorite?
Manchester City will want to finish the business at home, so I expect nothing but a convincing win for the Citizens so that reserves can travel to their last round match. Guardiola needs this, having in mind his rotation mind-game. If Napoli doesn’t get anything out of their game against Shakhtar, we may see an entertaining game between Napoli and Feyenoord for the Europa League spot in the last game. The Ukrainians are strong favorites to qualify for the second spot, but they still need some points to feel secure.
If Beşiktaş is the real deal this season, they will want to confirm their qualification with a win at home against Porto this week. If Monaco can re-group and beat Leipzig, then they will be right back in the mix. We will get an intriguing final day, where the Germans (possibly on four points) will host an unmotivated Beşiktaş side while Porto (possibly still on six points) have a showdown hosting Monaco (possibly on five points if winning this week) in Portugal. Something to be looking forward to, hey?!
Borussia are not out yet, but they can feel the noose around their necks. The way Borussia has played this year, and with Apoel visiting Spurs in the last round, I don’t see Tottenham slipping and letting Real Madrid regain the first spot. With the current group rankings and calendar, I fear that the last round will be a formality with Spurs remaining first and Madrid second (oh dear me!). Borussia and Apoel may both lose this week and then compete for the Europa League spot in match-week 6.
This is my fantasy squad for the match-day 5:
Alexander-Arnold / Kurzawa / Moreno / Otamendi
Talisca / Promes / Quaresma
Neymar (C) / Cavani / Salah
I keep reshuffling my squad, but I almost like the way it looks now. It took me four rounds to realize that having three PSG players is essential.
Is your team comfortably making it to the Play-offs? Will we see Atletico’s elimination confirmed this week? Is there a way back on top of group H for Real Madrid? Can Liverpool keep their smokin’ hot form and claim all three points plus next-round qualification from Sevilla?
Game on and let’s chat! As always, thank you for reading us!