Welcome to the final matchday of the Champions League group stage! Let’s have a quick look at what will happen in the final matches.
Game of the Week
Bayern Munich vs Barcelona
1, It proved to be a fantastic weekend for Bayern Munich who brushed aside great rivals Borussia Dortmund 3-2 in a chaotic ‘Der Klassiker’ showdown to move four points clear at the top of the Bundesliga standings. Here, they enter this clash with Barcelona, having already sealed top spot in UEFA Champions League (UCL) Group E after winning all five of their previous group stage matches, netting a whopping average of 3.8 goals per fixture.
2, That included a mammoth 3-0 away H2H victory at Camp Nou on matchday one, a result that extended their streak to three straight wins against Barça – the longest such streak suffered by the visitors against any opposition in European football history. Bayern have also won a remarkable 22 of their 23 prior UCL home group stage matches (D1), a run dating back to 2013/14, which will further increase confidence here.
3, A late 1-0 home defeat to Real Betis over the weekend was hardly ideal preparation for this crucial UCL clash for Barcelona, especially as that defeat ended their previous six-game run without a loss (W3, D3). Sitting two points clear of Benfica in second spot in Group E, only a victory here would guarantee that the Catalans would qualify for the knockout stages given their negative H2H record versus the Portuguese outfit.
4, That could prove an extremely tough task as Barcelona have now netted just four goals across their previous eight UCL clashes, whilst they’ve also failed to score more than once in a UCL match since December 2020 – their longest ever such run in competition history.
5, Players to watch: Bayern’s Thomas Müller loves this fixture as he’s scored seven goals in six previous UCL matches vs Barcelona, including the opener in the reverse H2H. Barça’s Ousmane Dembélé is expected to be fit for this match and has three goal contributions in four previous H2Hs with Bayern (G1, A2).
6, Hot stat: Bayern have scored two or more goals in their last 11 home UCL outings.
7, Apex prediction: Bayern 2-0 Barcelona
Miracle in Milan?
AC Milan vs Liverpool
1, Seven-time European champions AC Milan have a mountain to climb to advance to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), needing a win over six-time champions Liverpool to stand any chance. The footballing gods will ultimately decide their fate though, as whilst a draw in the Porto vs Atlético Madrid match would put Milan through (if they win here), a win for Porto would see Milan finish outside the top two, as would a win for Atlético if it came by a higher margin than any Milan victory.
2, The Serie A leaders could also finish last in Group B and fall out of European competition all together if they don’t show up ready for a war. But the ‘Rossoneri’ will have to find at least another gear here based on the fact they’ve lost five of their last six matches (W1) when English opposition have visited the San Siro in European competition (excluding qualifiers), notably failing to score in four of those defeats.
3, Liverpool will still be on a high after scoring a 94th minute winner over Wolves last time out, securing their fourth win ‘to nil’ in their last five games. Boss Jürgen Klopp has the luxury of rotating his squad should he wish given that their Round of 16 status is already guaranteed, although a win would make Liverpool the first English club to navigate the UCL group stages with a 100% record.
4, The ‘Reds’ have been marauders this UCL campaign, scoring first in all of their group games. Milan did give Liverpool a scare in the reverse fixture though, leading 2-1 at the break – the only time across Liverpool’s 22 games played this season that the Merseysiders trailed at half-time.
5, Players to watch: Milan could use some Franck Kessié magic here, as they’ve never lost when the midfielder has found the net (W26, D4), while Divock Origi’s heroics at the weekend could earn him a start, and his last six Liverpool goals have come away from home.
6,Hot stat: Milan have seen the opening goal arrive before the half-hour mark in 12 of their last 14 matches.
7, Apex prediction: Milan 2-1 Liverpool
‘Group of the Week’
1, For the first time since 2009, all four teams go into the final matchday with a chance of progression. That’s the case in Group G which features Lille, Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg who are fighting it out for two places.
2, While there will be plenty of twists and turns along the way, the situation is relatively straightforward.
The top two (Lille and Salzburg) can secure qualification by avoiding defeat and they don’t play each other, while Sevilla and Wolfsburg in the chasing pack must win to stand any chance.
But every team knows three points will see them through. Talk about perfectly poised.
3, Salzburg vs Sevilla: Amid a host of permutations in Group G, one thing is clear – the winner of this final UEFA Champions League (UCL) group stage clash between Salzburg and Sevilla will advance to the knockout stages. After winning both of their two previous home games during this group stage, the advantage rests with the Austrians, who prepared for this clash with another home league victory to maintain their near-perfect home record in all 2021/22 competitions (W11, D1).
Though Salzburg were declared warm favourites on all 12 of those occasions, it remains to be seen how they’ll rise to the additional challenge offered by Sevilla, having lost three of their last four games at home to Spanish opposition.
4, Wolfsburg vs Lille: Bottom-placed Wolfsburg will end the night either in the UCL last 16 for the first time since 2015/16 or eliminated from Europe entirely. Only a victory here can see them avoid the latter scenario, and while the reverse meeting on matchday one (D 0-0) showed their defensive resilience, it remains their last clean sheet in this competition, and their record since (W1, D1, L2) is poor.
5, Apex prediction: Wolfsburg 1-1 Lille, Salzburg 0-2 Sevilla
Red Hot Haller
Ajax vs Sporting
1, Players to watch: With just five games under his belt, Ajax’s Sébastien Haller is the fastest player in UCL history to reach nine goals. Memorably, four of those goals came in the reverse fixture! While none of Paulinho’s six competitive goals this season have been crucial to the result, he has found the net in three of Sporting’s five UCL group games.
2, The seemingly unstoppable form of Ajax continued unabated over the weekend, as they swept aside Willem II 5-0 to make it ten games unbeaten (W8, D2). While this UEFA Champions League (UCL) fixture will undoubtedly pose more of a challenge, Ajax have their sights set on joining an elite group of only six other clubs to pick up maximum points in a UCL group stage.
3, Even though all four places are already set in stone in this group, it is unlikely that group winners Ajax will take their foot off the pedal here. Indeed, only Bayern Munich and Manchester City have scored more goals than Ajax’s 3.2 per match on average, while only UCL holders Chelsea can boast fewer goals conceded ahead of this final match day.
4, Feeling vengeful after their comprehensive 5-1 defeat in the reverse fixture, Sporting Lisbon arrive in Amsterdam after putting together a 12-game winning streak in all competitions. Yet, with the ‘Leões’ picking up just two wins across their last 12 UCL away games in the competition proper (D1, L9), they seem well deserving of pre-match underdog status.
5, Current winning run aside, the case for Sporting mainly lies in their solid away record on Dutch soil (W5, D1, L3). However, Sporting shouldn’t lack any motivation, after winning their last three UCL games at any venue, especially as they have never previously won four consecutive games in the UCL.
6, Hot stat: Ajax have scored at least twice in eight of their last ten UCL games.
7, Apex Prediction: Ajax 3-1 Sporting
Apex Predictions (FULL)
Real Madrid vs Inter
Real Madrid lead Group D by two points and come into this midweek welcome of Inter in superb form. Indeed, Los Blancos are on an 11-game unbeaten run and have won their last eight in all competitions.
Inter, too, are unbeaten in 11 and a 3-0 win at Roma on Saturday extended their winning run to five games. They did lose the reverse fixture late on back in September and have lost their last three meetings with Real Madrid.
A point is enough for Real Madrid to secure first and the pair could well play out a draw at the Bernabeu.
So, Madrid 1-1 Inter?
Porto vs Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid are at the bottom of Group B but they can still finish second if they beat Porto and Liverpool beat Milan. However, they have lost their last three Champions League game and have only won three of their last 10 in all competitions in total.
FC Porto are on point clear of both Atletico and AC Milan in Group B. A draw would be good enough here as long as Milan fail to beat Liverpool. Porto are winless across their last three away matches in the Champions League.
So, Porto 2-1 Atletico?
Zenit vs Chelsea
Zenit have third place secured no matter what happens on Wednesday due to their superior head-to-head record over fourth place Malmo.
Chelsea just need to match Juventus’ result in order to secure top spot but Thomas Tuchel’s side find themselves in a rut.
Defeat at the weekend was only their first lose in 13 matches but there have been warning signs in recent weeks.
Chelsea have conceded in each of their last three matches and injuries are starting to pick up for Thomas Tuchel’s side.
While they remain favourites on Wednesday, they should expect a very tricky game against Zenit.
So, Zenit 0-1 Chelsea?
Juventus vs Malmoe FF
Chelsea’s superior head-to-head record over Juventus means the Old Lady need to win here and hope Zenit can do them a favour in Russia. The Italian side have won back-to-back league matches, and have won six of their last eight at home.
Malmoe FF have been the Group F whipping boys and it is now impossible for them to secure European football in the New Year. They have earned just one point from their five matches, but have won their last three away games.
Nevertheless, this should be a routine home win for Juventus.
So, Juve 3-0 Malmoe FF?
Atlanta vs Villarreal
Serie A side Atlanta must beat Villarreal to leapfrog the Spanish side into second place in Group F.
Atalanta will finish bottom of the group if they fail to win on Wednesday and Young Boys beat Manchester United.
Villarreal must avoid defeat to secure Champions League knockout football next year.
Villarreal have lost their last three matches with top-flight clubs, while Atalanta are unbeaten in 10.
So, Atlanta 2-1 Villarreal?
Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv
Benfica know that if they beat bottom side Dynamo Kyiv and Barcelona fail to beat group winners Bayern Munich then they will finish second and qualify for the knock-out stage of the competition for the first time since 2016/17.
Dynamo Kyiv are bottom of Group E and cannot improve on that. While Benfica will naturally think they should beat the worst team in the group, they did only manage a 0-0 draw with them in the reverse meeting and that result would see them finish third.
So, Benfica 2-0 Kyiv?
Thank you for reading our Champions League predictions for the last matchday of the group stage, never forget to keep an eye on our football app ‘Apex Football’ to get one of the quickest livescore and match event pushes. Feel free to comment your ideas and feeling below in the comment area. Enjoy the Champions League!