With wins on Match Day 4 this week, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool could all be almost guaranteed qualification into the last 16 of the Champions League.
This would make there last games in the group all but meaningless. But before Fergie and Rafa get their reserves ready for the last two games they should consider why it is important to win their group instead of just qualifying.
In the last 16, group winners play runners-up other than teams from their own pool or nation, while from the quarter-finals on the draw is free. So if the group stages finished today, United, Chelsea and Arsenal and Liverpool would all finish first in their respective groups.
That means the opponents for the English teams in the round of 16 would come from the following: Cluj, Anarthosis, Sporting Lisbon, Villareal, Lyon, Kiev, Real Madrid and Athletic Madrid. Other than Real Madrid (and are they destined to be drawn against Manchester United) there are no names in this group that would scare the four English teams.
However, the competition looks a lot more difficult if one of the English teams comes in second in their group. If Manchester United for example finish second in their group their opponent in the knockout stages would be one of these teams: Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan.
All four of these teams are European heavyweights and would be extremely difficult games for the European Champions There are probably 8 teams that can win the European Cup this season, and the longer that one of the contenders can avoid playing any of the other major contenders the better the chances that they stay in the competition.
Matchday 4 Matches
04/11/08 Grp A CFR v Bordeaux – SOLD OUT
04/11/08 Grp A Roma v Chelsea – Buy AS Roma – Chelsea Tickets
04/11/08 Grp B Anorthosis v Inter Milan – SOLD OUT
04/11/08 Grp B Bremen v Panathinaikos – Buy Werder Bremen – Panathinaikos Tickets
04/11/08 Grp C Sporting v Shakhtar – Buy Sporting Portugal – Shakhtar Donetsk Tickets
04/11/08 Grp C Barcelona v Basel – Buy FC Barcelona – FC Basel Tickets
04/11/08 Grp D Liverpool v Atlético – Buy Liverpool – Atletico Madrid Tickets
04/11/08 Grp D Marseille v PSV – Buy Olympique Marseille – PSV Eindhoven Tickets
05/11/08 Grp E AaB v Villarreal – Buy Aalborg BK – Villarreal Tickets
05/11/08 Grp E Celtic v Man. United – Buy Celtic – Manchester United Tickets
05/11/08 Grp F Fiorentina v Bayern – Buy Fiorentina – Bayern Munich Tickets
05/11/08 Grp F Lyon v Steaua – Buy Olympique Lyonnais – Steaua Bucharest Tickets
05/11/08 Grp G Arsenal v Fenerbahçe – Buy Arsenal – Fenerbahce Tickets
05/11/08 Grp G Dynamo Kyiv v Porto
05/11/08 Grp H BATE v Zenit
05/11/08 Grp H Real Madrid v Juventus – Buy Real Madrid – Juventus Tickets