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Champions League Knockout Stage Scenarios: Who's In, Who's Out, Who's Still Alive?

There's a lot going on as the UEFA Champions League heads into the final matchday of the group stage. But here's what's certain: Manchester City, PSG, Liverpool, Ajax, Sporting Lisbon, Real Madrid, Inter Milan, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Chelsea and Juventus have all already qualified for the knockout stage. 

That leaves five spots up for grabs on the final matchday, with powerhouses like Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and AC Milan among those fighting for their Champions League survival. 

Here's a look at each group and what scenarios remain in play to cement the last 16 vying for Europe's top club prize:

Group A

With RB Leipzig defeating Club Brugge on Wednesday, PSG still qualified for the knockout stages despite its loss to Manchester City. However, while Man City clinches the group's top spot, PSG finishes second and will have to face a group winner in the round of 16, leaving the possibility for potential nightmare matchups against Bayern Munich or Liverpool, among others. 

With the first and second spot set in stone, the only thing that matters on the final day in Group A is who drops down into the Europa League. Tied on points, RB Leipzig holds the tiebreaker over Club Brugge and will face Man City on Matchday 6, while Brugge faces PSG in Paris. With the first two places already secured, it's unclear how Man City and PSG will choose to approach matches that are relatively meaningless to them from a personnel standpoint, adding a further wrinkle.

Group B

Liverpool pulled away from the pack with wins in all five of its group matches. In the so-called Group of Death with Porto, AC Milan and Atlético Madrid, that was no small feat. But below the 2018-19 Champions League winner, there's a fight to be had for the final qualifying spot. 

Junior Messias's 87th-minute match-winner for Milan over Atlético on Wednesday means all three teams are still alive. Porto controls its destiny with five points while the other two teams are stuck on four. A win for the Portuguese side when it hosts Atlético on the final matchday would see Porto through to the knockouts, as simple as that. Beyond that, it's complicated. For Atlético Madrid to go through, it needs a win and for Milan to draw or lose to Liverpool. Meanwhile, Milan's most straightforward way through is a win and a Porto-Atlético draw. If Milan and Atlético both win, the team with the greater overall goal differential advances due to the order of tiebreakers. Milan currently has a one-goal advantage in overall goal differential, meaning Atlético must win by two more goals than Milan's margin of victory.   

Group C

Group C is as simple as they come. Ajax stormed through the group with wins in all five of its group-stage games while boasting the competition's joint-top scorer in Sébastien Haller. On Wednesday, Haller even set a Champions League record as the only player to score nine goals in his first five UCL games.

Sporting Lisbon qualified for the knockout stage with its 3–1 win over Borussia Dortmund, which also gave it the tiebreaker over the German side that it leads by three points. Borussia Dortmund struggled without stars Erling Haaland and Gio Reyna throughout part of the competition, but will drop into the Europa League as a third-place finisher. As far as point-less Besiktas, it'll be playing for pride on the final matchday against Dortmund. 

Group D

The Sheriff Champions League fairytale is over. But that doesn't mean the Moldovan side's time in Europe is over, as Sheriff will drop into the Europa League—a huge accomplishment considering three points would've been a surprise back in August, not to mention a third-place finish over Shakhtar Donetsk. 

The group winner will come down to a showdown at the Bernabeu between Real Madrid and Inter Milan on the final matchday. Real holds a two-point lead over the reigning Italian champion, meaning a draw will be enough to clinch the group while Inter needs a win to finish top. However, both teams have already qualified for the knockouts. 

Barcelona, AC Milan and Liverpool compete in the UEFA Champions League

Group E

This group could've been a much bigger mess if Haris Seferovic didn't miss that stoppage-time sitter against Barcelona on Tuesday. But now it's pretty simple. Bayern Munich is already through as group winner after winning all five of its group games. Barcelona sits in second with seven points, two ahead of Benfica, but must now head to Munich to face Bayern on the final matchday. 

If Barça wins, the Spanish side is through. If it drops points, that opens the door to Benfica, which holds the tiebreaker over Barcelona. Benfica must win to go through and get help from Bayern. Put simply, a Benfica win against already-eliminated Dynamo Kiev and a Barça draw/loss sends Benfica through and Xavi's side to the Europa League. 

Group F

Manchester United is already through as the group winner with 10 points—and all 10 of its points have come with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring the decisive goal. On Tuesday against Villarreal, Ronaldo became the first player to score in the opening five Champions League games of a single UCL campaign for an English club. 

Reigning Europa League champion Villarreal still controls its destiny, but must get a point against Atalanta in Bergamo. The Yellow Submarine currently sits one point above Atalanta, which has to defeat Villarreal to advance to the knockout stage. Young Boys still has a shot at a Europa League spot if it defeats Manchester United like it did on the opening matchday and if Atalanta loses. 

Group G

This is by far the messiest group, because each team is still alive. The one sure thing is that whoever loses won't be advancing. French champion Lille leads with eight points, followed by RB Salzburg with seven, Sevilla with six and Wolfsburg with five. A win for Lille would see it win the group, but a draw will suffice in seeing it through to the knockouts.

A draw for RB Salzburg when it hosts Sevilla will see the Austrian side book its ticket to the knockouts, while it can win the group with a win and Lille dropping points. Sevilla needs a win at Salzburg to qualify, and can win the group with a Lille loss. Last-place Wolfsburg is either win or go home: A win at home against Lille sends the German side through. Anything else and it fails to qualify.

Group H

Chelsea and Juventus have both qualified, but Chelsea's dominant 4–0 victory over the Italian giant on Tuesday gives the reigning Champions League winner a significant advantage. A win in Russia against Zenit clinches the group for Chelsea, which only needs to match Juve's result since it owns the tiebreaker.

When it hosts last-place Malmö, Juventus needs a win and Chelsea to drop points or a draw and a Chelsea loss to win the group. Zenit, meanwhile, has already ensured its spot in the Europa League with a third-place finish. 

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