MATCHDAY: Champions League group stage finals
Celtic and Shakhtar Donetsk players hug after the Champions League Group F soccer match at Celtic Park in Glasgow, Scotland, on Tuesday, October 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Scott Heppell)(Scott Heppell / Associated Press)
On Wednesday, here's a look at what's going on in the Champions League:
AC Milan hosts Salzburg with a place in the last 16 on the line, while Chelsea is already guaranteed of winning the group ahead of its home encounter against Dinamo Zagreb. Milan leads Salzburg by a point and would progress if the Austrian champions were defeated. The Italian squad will be back in European play in the new year since it cannot finish fourth even if it loses. Salzburg, on the other hand, might fall to last place if they lose at the San Siro and Dinamo also wins against Chelsea, which is sure to rotate significantly due to Graham Potter's team's tight schedule.
In the final group game, which is basically a playoff, either Leipzig or Shakhtar Donetsk will qualify. A win and a place in the last 16 for Shakhtar would be the latest chapter in the amazing saga of a Ukrainian side that has had to play its European home games, including this one, in Poland due to the Russian invasion. Instead, Leipzig would qualify with a victory or a draw, extending its comeback under coach Marco Rose, who was recruited in September after Leipzig was defeated at home by Shakhtar.Real Madrid has already advanced, but after losing to Leipzig in the previous round, the reigning champion has to win at home against Celtic to earn top place in the group. Carlo Ancelotti's club has unexpectedly struggled, drawing at home against Girona in the Spanish league after losing to Leipzig in Germany.
There is nothing left to play for, with Manchester City certain to finish first, Borussia Dortmund certain to finish second, and Sevilla likely to finish third and slip into the Europa League qualification playoffs. Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, has stated that he would vary his team against Sevilla, with striker Erling Haaland missing again again due to several complaints, including a foot ailment. FC Copenhagen earned two points from five games but has failed to score a goal ahead of Dortmund's visit.
PSG and Benfica have already qualified for the last 16, while Juventus and Maccabi Haifa have been eliminated. Who will finish first in their group and who will finish third and earn a place in the Europa League remains to be seen. PSG will be certain of first place if they defeat Juventus away, but Juventus can seal third place if Haifa falls to Benfica at home. Lionel Messi has four goals and two assists in his previous three Champions League games for PSG, including two goals and two assists in the 7-2 triumph against Haifa.