UEFA Champions League Preview: Just four places available

THE final matchday of the group phase includes a few mini cup finals that will decide the remaining four places for the last 16. Group D is still wide open, with Marseille, Tottenham, Sporting and Frankfurt all in with a chance of qualification. Meanwhile, AC Milan are still looking to win through but their opponents Salzburg are also in the hunt. Shakhtar Donetsk and RB Leipzig are also effectively playing-off for a last 16 berth.

The group phase has seen a few big casualties this season; Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Juventus have fallen, undermining the belief that these clubs are fit for a European Super League. At the same time, some unlikely heroes have emerged. Benfica have had a tremendous campaign so far in what was a tough group on paper. Club Brugge have also flown the flag for Belgium very well.

The most in-form team in Europe has to be Napoli, who have not only performed well in the Champions League, but they have also lit-up Serie A with their prolific goalscoring.

All eyes will be on Group D, however, as two places are up for grabs. Marseille host Tottenham at a time when their early season form seems to be fading. They were unbeaten in their first nine Ligue 1 games, but since then, they have lost three and drawn one. The hopes they had of challenging PSG seem to be evaporating, and they are now in fifth place, 11 points behind the leaders.

Tottenham started the season well, but before beating Bournemouth 3-2 last weekend, they had lost two league games in a row. They are still in a good place, just five points worse off than Premier leaders Arsenal, but they don’t seem quite as confident as they were in August and September. In the Champions League, they haven’t won away yet, drawing with Frankfurt and losing in Lisbon.

Sporting Lisbon face Eintracht Frankfurt aware that a point will see them through to the next stage. Sporting have had a clumsy league season so far, losing four of their 11 games. In the Champions League, they won their first two games but since then have gained just one point from three games. They will be eager to avenge a three-goal hammering in Germany against Sporting at the start of the group games.

Already through: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea, Club Brugge, Inter Milan, Liverpool, Manchester City, Napoli, Paris Saint-Germain, Porto, Real Madrid.

Probables: Tottenham Hotspur, Sporting Lisbon, Shakhtar Donetsk, AC Milan.

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