Champions League: Barca's mission headlines Wednesday action

08 December 2021 01:37:31 GMTPlus11
Barcelona facing a huge test in Munich

Barcelona are hoping to rescue their Champions League campaign and qualify for the last-16 with a victory over Bayern Munich on Wednesday, but it remains a big ask for Xavi's side to win at the Allianz Arena.

The match odds for the Group E showdown don't particularly reflect the fact that Bayern, as usual, have already qualified with the minimum of fuss for the knockout stage - the home side are 8/15 to win, Barca are 17/4 outsiders and the draw is 15/4.

The pressure is off Julian Nagelsmann's side, who won the first meeting of the two sides in the Nou Camp convincingly 3-0, but they will still pose a big threat on the night.

Barca up against it in Bavaria

Barca will be giving everything to secure the three points needed to make it as a draw may not be enough as Benfica lurk dangerously in third.

The Portuguese side are two points behind, but their better head-to-head record in the group means a draw or defeat for Barca coupled with an Eagles win over bottom-placed Dynamo Kyiv would result in Europa League football in 2022 for the Catalans.

To make matters worse for Xavi's men, they go into the game on a low after Real Betis won 1-0 at the Nou Camp at the weekend - a result that ended Barca's six-game unbeaten run across all competitions.

They will feel they have a chance against Bayern as the Bundesliga leaders may opt to rest players.

The reality, though, is that even some changes does not overly weaken Bayern, who have a much stronger squad overall than their opponents, who sit down in seventh place in La Liga and only have two wins over Kiev and a 0-0 with Benfica on the board in the group so far.

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Who will nab second in Group F?

In Group F, second place behind Manchester United is also up for grabs with either Villarreal or Atalanta set to finish runners-up and take a last-16 place.

The two teams go head to head in Italy, but it's the Spanish side in the driving seat as they have a point more ahead of matchday six.

Therefore, the home side will go through to the last-16 stage of the competition with a victory, but a draw or defeat would allow the Spanish outfit to finish second. Atlanta are 4/6 for the crucial win, it's 3/1 for a draw and 4/1 for an away victory.

United, meanwhile, will want to maintain their upward momentum since the departure of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in what will be Ralf Rangnick's second game in charge when they host Young Boys.

The Swiss are bottom of the group, but did win the reverse game in Switzerland 2-1 and need a win to keep their hopes of finishing third alive.

Rangnick after two from two

Rangnick oversaw a deserved 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday in what was a hard-working display in his debut in the Old Trafford dugout and a second win in quick succession is 13/20 - Young Boys are 4/1 to do an unlikely double and the draw is available at 3/1.

It's early days, of course, but Red Devils fans will want to see a similar performance to the one they witnessed at the weekend when a clear structure and emphasis on high pressing yielded its reward.

If the highly-rated German coach makes it two wins from two and extends United's unbeaten run to five in the process, it may trigger optimism that United can enjoy some success this season after all.

All to play for in Group G

Group G is one of the most intriguing going into the final round of games as all four teams could yet make the knockout stages, with just three points separating leaders Lille, RB Salzburg in second and Sevilla and Wolfsburg beneath them.

Lille know a win at Wolfsburg would secure their place and they are 12/5 to come away from Germany with all three points. Similarly, if Salzburg beat Sevilla - which is a 7/4 chance - they will also qualify, but it's that tight that all outcomes are possible.

Chelsea eyeing Zenit boost

Chelsea are also in action on Wednesday and Blues fans may be getting slightly concerned by a drop off in form in the past few weeks from Thomas Tuchel's side.

After leading the Premier League table for much of the campaign, they suddenly find themselves in third after recent draws with Burnley, United and, on Saturday, a sapping 3-2 derby defeat at West Ham.

Tuchel won't be panicking and his side are already safely through to the last-16 in Europe as they prepare to take on Zenit St Petersburg in Russia, but, ahead of a home clash with Leeds United on Saturday, he will want to see an improvement and a victory is on offer at 11/20, with the draw priced at 10/3.

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