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Champions League State Of Play

Champions League Trophy

The Champions League returns this week, with three clubs, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Paris St-Germain are the teams already through to the last 16 with two group games to play.

Several other teams can book their place in the round of 16 and we take a look at some of the big games this week impacting the four Serie A clubs in the competition: Juventus, Napoli, Inter Milan and Atalanta.

Atalanta
Manchester City were heavily tipped to progress from the group stages when the draw was made in August and as expected they have totally dominated this group.

They could have made lighter work of it all, with the draw against Atalanta, in which Kyle Walker ended up in goal, slightly disappointing. That said, nobody will care too much should Pep Guardiola’s side dispatch Shakhtar Donetsk with relative ease at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night. It will also present a good opportunity for Gabriel Jesus to get up to speed with Sergio Aguero now unavailable with injury.

A win for City would also open the door for Dinamo Zagreb, who take on Atalanta in Milan. Should they beat Atalanta, who have recorded just a point from four matches, they would go three points clear of Shakhtar Donetsk.

GROUP C FIXTURES
Atalanta v Dinamo Zagreb
Manchester City v Shakhtar Donetsk

Juventus
As already mentioned, Juventus have already qualified. A win at home to Atletico Madrid would cement their title of group winners. That would, however, put Atletico in a rather precarious position.

They would still be in second place but should either of Bayer Leverkusen or Lokomotiv Moscow triumph in their fixture in Russia then only a point would separate second and third spot.

That would leave Atletico needing to win or draw their final game, which is against Lokomotiv Moscow. In reality, Diego Simeone’s should qualify whether it is this week or in the final round of group stage matches. Still, though, just two wins out of four at this stage isn’t exactly the form that suggests they’ll be dangerous opponents in the knockout stages.

GROUP D FIXTURES
Lokomotiv Moscow v Bayer Leverkusen, Tuesday
Juventus v Atletico Madrid, Tuesday

Napoli
Given the tremendous run Liverpool are on, it’s particularly apt that they should come up against the only side that have managed to beat them this season (discounting Manchester City in the Community Shield, of course).

Napoli gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a hard time in Naples at the start of the group stages, winning 3-0. But this is a different Napoli side to the one that produced the type of performance other sides have tried and failed to replicate in domestic and European football since.

That win came all before owner Aurerlio De Laurentiis fell out with manager Carlo Ancelotti and the club’s senior players. The mess off the pitch has spilled over on to it, too. As well as a drop off in form in Serie A, Napoli’s last convincing display in the Champions League was a 3-2 away win over Red Bull Salzburg. A 1-1 home draw against the Austrian side in their last fixture demonstrated a new found vulnerability – a side lacking intensity, something that they had become renowned for.

At Anfield, against a Liverpool side flying, they could come unstuck in a very big way. Liverpool will clinch top spot with a win although a Napoli victory would send the Italians through. And should Genk manage to beat Red Bull Salzburg then Liverpool and Napoli would seal their place in the next round no matter what happens on Merseyside.

GROUP E FIXTURES
Liverpool v Napoli, Wednesday
Genk v Red Bull Salzburg, Wednesday

Inter Milan
A excellent showdown between Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund here. Barcelona have the advantage given they are a point ahead of Dortmund. They are also yet to lose in Europe this season – something Dortmund experienced when they were beaten 2-0 by Inter Milan.

There will also be plenty of attention on Jadon Sancho who is clearly unhappy with life at Dortmund. He is likely to go for mega money next summer with Real Madrid, Liverpool and Manchester United all linked. A standout performance from him here would not only help his cause greatly but could also give Dortmund a chance of beating Barcelona at the Nou Camp and see them through to the knockout stages.

But it will also be a night for Barcelona to finally shine. On four goals scored, they are the lowest scorers of any side in either first or second spot in all of the groups. It is a poor return from an attack that boasts some of the best players in the world. Lionel Messi (who has scored once in Europe this season) will therefore see this fixture as an opportunity to fire up a Barcelona side predicted to make it to the quarter-finals at least.

Inter also had aspirations of reaching the knockout stages at the start of the campaign but will face elimination should they lose away at Slavia Prague.

GROUP F FIXTURES
Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund, Wednesday
Slavia Prague v Inter Milan, Wednesday
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Champions League Fixtures
Matchday six
Tuesday 10 December

Napoli v Genk – Buy Champions League Tickets
Inter v Barcelona – Buy Champions League Tickets

Wednesday 11 December
Shakhtar v Atalanta – Buy Champions League Tickets
Leverkusen v Juventus – Buy Champions League Tickets