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Champions League nears the crunch as Manchester United and Liverpool try to qualify

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The Champions League nears the crunch: Inter Milan are on the brink of embarrassing KO as PSG, Leipzig, Ajax and Atalanta sweat on last-16 places and EIGHT teams - including Liverpool and Man United - make their final pushIt's getting tense as the Champions League reaches matchday fiveInter Milan are staring down the barrel of an embarrassing early eliminationLast year's runners-up Paris Saint-Germain can't afford a slip-up at Old TraffordTussle between Ajax and Atalanta in Liverpool's group will go right to the wireEight sides can join the six already qualified over the next two evenings  

It's decision time in the Champions League this week as Europe's finest scramble to book their places in the knockout rounds in the new year.



A handful of sides have already made it safely through to the last-16 with two rounds of games remaining and another group will join them if results go their way.



Seven clubs have already been eliminated and are left fighting for the consolation of Europa League football after Christmas.

Inter Milan could be eliminated from the Champions League this week as the competition's group stage reaches its crucial matchday five on Tuesday and Wednesday

And others, including big names such as Inter Milan, Paris Saint-Germain and Ajax, are still sweating on their progression with elimination an unthinkable embarrassment.

Ahead of the fifth round of group stage matches on Tuesday and Wednesday, here's the state of play.

LAST-16 PLACE ALREADY SECURED

It's not quite feet-up time but the pressure is certainly reduced on Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Chelsea, Sevilla, Barcelona and Juventus, who all booked their passage to the knockout phase last week.

Reigning champions Bayern have picked up where they left off last season with four wins from four not only assuring them of the last-16 but a seeding as group winners. They make the trip to Atletico Madrid on Tuesday knowing they can't be caught.

Defending champions Bayern Munich have progressed serenely into the knockout rounds

Bayern have won all four of their matches after picking up where they left off in August

Manchester City also boast an unblemished record of four wins from their first four matches

Manchester City also have an unblemished record and will secure top spot if they avoid defeat away to Porto on Tuesday.

Chelsea got through thanks to their win over Rennes last week and all that's left is to fight it out with Sevilla for top spot. The two sides meet in Spain on Wednesday.

Barcelona may be struggling domestically but have a 100 per cent record in Europe. A win over Ferencvaros secures top spot with Juventus three points behind but also already qualified.

Chelsea and Sevilla will compete for top spot with both teams already safely through

Barcelona secured their place in the last-16 with a 4-0 victory over Dynamo Kiev last week

Barcelona and Juventus have already secured their progression in a lopsided Group G

ON THE BRINK OF THE KNOCKOUT STAGE

Eight teams have the opportunity to join the six already qualified over the next two nights.

In Group D, Liverpool will get through if they avoid defeat by Ajax at Anfield on Tuesday.

It's also the same equation for Manchester United, who top Group H, and need just a point at home to Paris Saint-Germain to advance. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will be confirmed as group winners if they win and RB Leipzig don't against Istanbul Basaksehir. Alternatively, if United draw and Leipzig lose.

Atletico will go through this week if they beat Bayern and Lokomotiv Moscow fail to beat Red Bull Salzburg.

Liverpool were stung by Atalanta last week but can secure their passage against Ajax 

Liverpool will progress from Group D if they avoid defeat against Ajax at Anfield on Tuesday 

Manchester United gained their revenge on Istanbul Basaksehir to move closer to the last-16

Manchester United will qualify if they avoid defeat in Wednesday's meeting with PSG

TUESDAY  

8pm kick-off UK time unless stated

GROUP A

Lokomotiv Moscow vs Red Bull Salzburg (5.55pm)

BT Sport ESPN

Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich

BT Sport ESPN

GROUP B

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Madrid (5.55pm)

BT Sport 1

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Inter Milan

BT Sport Extra 2

GROUP C

Porto vs Manchester City

BT Sport 3

Marseille vs Olympiacos

BT Sport Extra 4

GROUP D

Atalanta vs Midtjylland

BT Sport Extra 3

Liverpool vs Ajax

BT Sport 2/BT Sport Ultimate

Advertisement WEDNESDAY  

8pm kick-off UK time unless stated

GROUP E

Krasnodar vs Rennes (5.55pm)

BT Sport ESPN

Sevilla vs Chelsea

BT Sport 3

GROUP F

Borussia Dortmund vs Lazio

BT Sport Extra 3

Club Bruges vs Zenit St Petersburg

BT Sport Extra 4

GROUP G

Ferencvaros vs Barcelona

BT Sport ESPN

Juventus vs Dynamo Kyiv

BT Sport Extra 2

GROUP H

Istanbul Basaksehir vs RB Leipzig (5.55pm)

BT Sport 1

Manchester United vs Paris Saint-Germain

BT Sport 2/BT Sport Ultimate

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Group B could also be done and dusted on Tuesday night. Surprise group leaders Borussia Monchengladbach will go through if they beat Inter Milan in Germany, or alternatively if they draw and Shakhtar Donetsk don't beat Real Madrid.

Real, who start the night a point behind Gladbach, will go through if they beat Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine.

In Group C, Porto just need to avoid defeat against Man City to follow them into the knockout rounds. Alternatively, if third-placed Olympiacos fail to beat Marseille, the Portuguese champions will advance.

Monchengladbach need one more win to make sure of their Champions League last-16 place

Porto are poised to follow Manchester City into the knockout stages from Group C

Porto need to avoid defeat in their match against already qualified City to make it through

And in Group F, Borussia Dortmund can make it if they avoid defeat in their game with Lazio at Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday night. A win would see them clinch first place as well.

Lazio, currently one point behind Dortmund, will seal their progression if they beat Dortmund or if third-placed Club Brugge lose to Zenit St Petersburg.

Lazio proved too strong for Borussia Dortmund when the sides met in Rome back in October

Borussia Dortmund and Lazio meet in Germany this week as they both try and book their spot

WHO CAN BE ELIMINATED THIS WEEK?

The name that really stands out here is Inter Milan, whose Champions League campaign has been a disaster.

They are bottom of Group B having failed to win any of their four matches so far. Antonio Conte's side can only stay in contention for the last-16 by winning their away game with Monchengladbach.

And if they fail to beat the German side and Shakhtar record another win over Real Madrid, then Inter will not even be in the Europa League.

Romelu Lukaku (centre) and his Inter Milan team-mates look dejected during their loss to Real

An early exit from the Champions League would not bode well for manager Antonio Conte

Inter Milan are close to being cut adrift in Group B having failed to win a game so far

The other teams that could see their last-16 chances ended this week are Lokomotiv Moscow, Red Bull Salzburg, Shakhtar Donetsk, Olympiacos, Club Brugge and Istanbul Basaksehir.

Those already eliminated from the competition are Marseille, Midtjylland, Krasnodar, Rennes, Zenit, Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros. Midtjylland can't even finish third.

WHO'S SWEATING ON THEIR LAST-16 SPOT?

It's entirely possible that last season's runners-up, Paris Saint-Germain, won't make it into the last-16, which would be a massive shock and probably cost manager Thomas Tuchel his job.

They're currently level on six points with RB Leipzig in Group H, with both teams three points behind group leaders Manchester United.

It means PSG really could do with getting something from their trip to Old Trafford, with Leipzig expected to win away to Basaksehir.

Angel Di Maria and Paris Saint-Germain are sweating on their place in the next round

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe have both struggled to score goals in this Champions League

PSG will be praying Basaksehir repeat their performance in beating United on matchday three but that would then bring them into the mix as well.

One thing in PSG's favour is they have the better head-to-head record against Leipzig by virtue of the fact they scored an 'away goal' in losing 2-1 in Germany. Head-to-head record takes preference over goal difference if teams are level on points.

Leipzig, semi-finalists last season, also won't want to exit the competition at this early stage but they can't afford any slip-ups in Turkey. They'll hope United advance this week and so field a weakened team when they come to Germany next week.

Another group set to go right down to the wire is Group D, where Ajax and Atalanta are locked on seven points, behind leaders Liverpool on nine.

Atalanta and Ajax played out an entertaining 2-2 draw in Italy and meet again next week

Ajax could do with getting at least a point against Liverpool at Anfield given that Atalanta will be heavily fancied to beat Midtjylland at home.

It will then come down to a winner-takes-all showdown between Ajax and Atalanta in Amsterdam on matchday six.


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