The Champions League group stages are edging towards the final knockings, but which sides can seize the initiative on the penultimate matchday. There are some interesting fixtures to look out for as the biggest clubs look to ensure their passage through to the next round with a game to spare.
Valencia vs Chelsea
The most finely poised Champions League group as we head into the penultimate round of fixtures is Group H. Chelsea, Valencia and Ajax are all locked on seven points each. The Blues hold the advantage over their Spanish opponents through their superior goal difference, but it is very tough to predict who will progress.
Both sides are unbeaten in their last two in the competition, and they also have an identical record. Chelsea will be looking to get back to winning ways after a pulsating draw with Ajax in their last fixture, while Valencia won last time out against Lille.
It is difficult to see which way this game may go, but neither side will want to lose. Therefore, the most likely result is a draw.
Barcelona vs Borussia Dortmund
It hasn’t been the best of group stages for Barcelona, as they are typically through by this stage of proceedings. Meanwhile, Dortmund kept their fate in their own hands with a hard-fought win over Inter Milan in their last fixture.
Dortmund showcased their very best form to come back in that game after trailing 2-0 at the break in Germany. However, their attacking prowess came to the forefront in the second half as the Italian giants struggled to deal with Jadon Sancho on the right-hand side.
A win for either side will be enough to put them through. Dortmund were a tad unfortunate not to have got all three points in the previous meeting between the two sides, as they missed a penalty deep in the second half. This will be a completely different challenge this week, however, and they may be happy with a draw. But, it is difficult to see anything other than a home win here.
Liverpool vs Napoli
This will be the fourth time in two years that these two sides have come up against each other. The Italian side were hugely unfortunate to have been knocked out at this stage last season, but it looks unlikely that will be their fate again this campaign.
The European champions will be the favourites to get the result in front of their home fans, but these should also be the two sides that progress out of this group. A win for either side would be enough to put them through to the next stage, while a draw would keep Red Bull Salzburg’s slim hopes alive.
Napoli won this fixture on matchday one and will be confident that they have enough in defence to achieve that feat again. However, Mohamed Salah was rested for this fixture on the weekend, and he will likely have a big impact on the result of the game.