The Premier League’s historic campaign in this year’s Champions League is set to go on. With the final round of group stage games in the book, all five representatives of England’s top flight advanced to the knockout stage. Despite a mixed bag of results on matchday six, four out of the five English clubs still went on to top their groups. Since teams from the same country cannot be drawn together in the round of 16, the possibility of five English clubs in the quarterfinals is still on the table. Monday’s draw will do much to clarify the picture ahead of the mid-February fixtures.
The English champions advanced to the round of 16 with a 1-1 draw against Atlético Madrid. The stalemate was, however, costly in one regard. A win would have guaranteed top spot in the group, but the draw, coupled with Roma’s win over Qarabag, means the Blues finish second. Though tied on 11 points with the Italian club, Chelsea’s 3-0 loss in Rome on October 31st condemns them to second place on head-to-head points. Chelsea will now face a group winner, either Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, or Besiktas. Despite his bullish remarks in the press, Antonio Conte will no doubt hope to draw the two-time Turkish champions.
Jürgen Klopp’s side rounded out an up and down group stage with a thrashing of Spartak Moscow. Needing three points to ensure they topped the group, the Reds turned in a dominant performance, running out 7-0 winners for the second time in six matches. Despite squandering a three goal lead in the previous round—the second time the team had to settle for a draw despite being on top—Liverpool still finished the stage undefeated. With attacking talent to spare, Klopp will need to improve his side’s defensive form with Bayern Munich, Juventus, and Real Madrid all possible opponents in the next round. Shakhtar Donetsk, Basel, and Porto round out the candidate pool.
The class of the Premier League thus far, Manchester City went into their match against Shakhtar Donetsk with the possibility of becoming the first English club to manage a clean sweep in the group stage. But with progress already confirmed, and the Manchester derby looming on Sunday, Pep Guardiola chose to rest several key players. Neither captain Vincent Kompany nor Kevin De Bruyne made the matchday team, while Nicolás Otamendi, Kyle Walker, and Raheem Sterling never left the substitutes bench. Guardiola also withdrew Leroy Sané after just over an hour, and Sergio Aguero played only the last twenty minutes, netting a consolation penalty in stoppage time. City still topped group F despite the 2-1 defeat, their first loss this season. Like Liverpool, City will want to avoid Real, Juventus, and Bayern in the draw, but will likely fancy their chances against Sevilla, Porto, or Basel.
United rebounded from their late loss to Basel in the previous round to beat CSKA Moscow 2-1 and secure top spot in Group A. United needed at least a point to ensure qualification. After failing to put away any of their many first-half chances, the Red Devils went behind on the stroke of halftime. Dominant again after the restart, two goals in two minutes from Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford sealed the win, and the club’s spot atop the group. José Mourinho also had the derby in mind, choosing to rest Nemanja Matic, David de Gea, and Jesse Lingard. United cannot draw Basel or Chelsea, leaving the club in a similar position to their compatriots City and Liverpool. Serial finalists Juventus, Bayern, and Real, along with Shakhtar, Porto, and Sevilla comprise the possible opponents.
Spurs had little to play for against APOEL, after securing advancement and top spot in group H in previous rounds. Despite notable exclusions including Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen, and Hugo Lloris, Mauricio Pochettino’s side won easily. The 3-0 win maintained the club’s undefeated record in the group stage. The Champions League has been a place of respite for Spurs, whose domestic form has taken a downturn. Two wins over Borussia Dortmund and a much talked about 3-1 win over Real, highlighted Tottenham’s quality in Europe this year. The one plus of playing the two-time defending champions in the group stage is that Spurs cannot draw Real in the next round. Bayern and Juventus are still potential opponents, along with Porto, Shakhtar, Sevilla, and Basel.
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