All eyes will be on who qualifies for the next round as the UEFA Champions League group stage moves into the final two rounds of play following a 20-day break for international football.

The results of the group stage also affect participation in other international competitions this season and next.

The 2025 FIFA Club World Cup, next season’s Champions League and this season’s Europa League knockout rounds are currently effectively in play.

This gives even the teams that already reached the round of 16 in February, such as Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Real Sociedad and Leipzig, an additional incentive to continue pushing for the best possible results. The same applies to the six teams that are already out of the race: Benfica, Red Star Belgrade, Antwerp, Salzburg, Union Berlin, Young Boys.

The first priority for the remaining clubs will be to secure one of the ten remaining places in the Champions League round of 16 draw on December 18.

Here is a list of five must-watch games when the famous European club football competition resumes:

AC Milan vs Borussia Dortmund (Tuesday, November 28)

Everything is open in the fascinating Group F, in which Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Newcastle can finish anywhere from first to last place and the four teams are only separated by three points.

A Dortmund win would all but confirm their qualification for the next round, but if the Italian giants win it would open up the group even further.

Newcastle United vs PSG (Tuesday 28 November)

Newcastle manager Eddie Howe believes the game against Newcastle will be a “defining moment” in the England team’s season.

Newcastle beat PSG 4-1 in their first meeting at St James’ Park but have slipped from top to bottom in the standings after successive defeats against Borussia Dortmund and could miss out on a place in the last 16 if they lose to PSG.

PSG are second, a point behind leaders Dortmund in a tight Group F, with AC Milan and Newcastle also aiming for the knockout stages, with just three points separating the four teams.

Barcelona vs FC Porto (Tuesday, November 28)

A win against Porto will be enough to get Barcelona back into the knockout stages after two consecutive group stage exits in recent seasons.
However, this may not be enough to ease the pressure on coach Xavi Hernandez, who has struggled to get his team to play well of late.

Barcelona advance with a win, or with a draw if Shakhtar fails to beat Antwerp in the other Group H game. The Catalan club failed to reach the knockout stages in the two seasons following Lionel Messi’s departure.

“There is always pressure at Barca,” said Xavi. “It’s always been that way and it won’t change. You have to win at this club.”

Galatasaray vs Manchester United (Wednesday November 29)

It’s equally close between Manchester United, Galatasaray and Copenhagen to finish second behind Group A winners Bayern.

Galatasaray host Man United on Wednesday and could be the highest-stakes Champions League game of the week, with implications for every club and their respective country. A defeat by either team in Istanbul increases the risk of finishing bottom of the group, which would mean no European football in February.

Real Madrid vs Napoli (Wednesday November 29)

Napoli would progress with a win at Madrid, the already qualified Group C leaders, although they will likely have to wait for the final showdown when they host Braga on December 12.

Coach Carlo Ancelotti’s side need just a point against Napoli, who they beat 3-2 in Italy, to secure top spot in the group.
“Tomorrow’s game allows us to finish the group stage where we have done very well so far,” said Ancelotti.

Real Madrid have 12 points in Group C, with Napoli in second place, five points behind. The Serie A side can get Real into the round of 16 if they win in Spain or match Braga’s result against Union Berlin.

Source : www.aljazeera.com

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