By Gbenga Isaac
Group A leaders Manchester United face a tricky test when they travel to St. Jakob Park to take on FC Basel. United need just a point to confirm themselves as group winners, while Basel are in need of a win to strengthen their bid for second spot. Basel’s loss to CSKA means they are level on points with the Russians, and should they lose tonight it will be advantage CSKA.
United have been boosted by the return of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from injury. The former had a goal and an assist in a 4-1 win over Newcastle at the weekend and is a sure bet to start the game. The Red Devils have won all four of their games, amassing 12 points, scoring 10 goals and conceding just one.
CSKA play host to Benfica at the CSKA Arena. The Russians are 3rd in Group A with six points, the same as FC Basel. With Basel taking on Man United, CSKA will be hoping to make their home advantage count against the already eliminated Benfica. Should CSKA win, it will be their first home victory of the season. Benfica have lost all four of their matches and this will go down as one of their worst campaigns in recent memory if they fail to register any points come the end of the group stage.
Group B leaders PSG take on Celtic at the Parc Des Princes. The French side have qualified for the next round but need to maintain their winning run if they are to finish ahead of Bayern Munich in the group. Having already beaten them 3 – 0 on matchday 2, an epic showdown at the Allianz Arena awaits on matchday 6. With four wins in four games, 17 goals scored and clean sheets all round, PSG have been the competition’s most impressive team by a mile.
Celtic are out of the race after back to back losses against Bayern, but they will still be eyeing a 3rd placed finish for the Europa League. The first encounter between the two teams ended 5-0 in favour of PSG with Mbappe, Neymar and Cavani all finding the back of the net. You can expect more of the same.
Chelsea can qualify for the next round with a win against Qarabag at the Baku Olympic Stadium. The Blues were thrashed 3-0 by Roma in their last game, but escaped punishment after Atletico were held to a draw by Qarabag. They will go through if they can beat the Azerbaijani champions and Atletico fail to beat Roma. Qarabag are out of the running for qualification, but they will fancy a crack at making the Europa League round of 32.
Atletico Madrid will be desperate for a win against Roma at the Wanda Metropolitano. Diego Simeone’s goal shy squad have picked up 3 draws and a defeat in four games and anything other than a win will confirm their exit. Roma on the other hand lead the group and will advance to the next stage with a draw. They will be in high spirits after their derby victory over Lazio at the weekend, with the new king of Rome Radja Nainggolan netting the winner.
In Group D, Juventus tackle Barcelona at the Allianz Stadium. The Old lady are 3 points adrift of the Blaugrana and missed a chance to get close to Barca after being held to a 1-1 draw by Sporting in their last game. It has also given Sporting a slim chance of qualifying, meaning they must win here or face the prospect of going away to Olympiakos on the final day. Barca are unbeaten in the competition this season. They were held to a goalless draw against Olympiakos which ended their 3 match winning run. They need just a point to win the group, which of course is not going to be easy.
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