The good news for English football is that we now have five teams more or less guaranteed to go through to the final 16. They are Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham. All must play their last group fixtures by the 5th and 6th of December.
In order to make it a clean sweep, Liverpool (who threw away a three-goal lead to Sevilla) must avoid being beaten by Spartak Moscow at Anfield, while Manchester United must not lose their final fixture at Old Trafford against CSKA Moscow by more than five goals.
This time last year we were debating the fact that no team had ever won the Champions League twice in a row. We now know that is no longer the case as Real Madrid made history when they won for a second consecutive year. Could they do it for a third year? Well, they are still in the mix.
Back to home territory, if all five English teams do go through to the next round, who are they likely to face?
Chelsea – potential winners of Group C. Chelsea are already through to the last 16. If they beat Atletico Madrid in the last game, they will face either Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Real Madrid, Sevilla or Shakhtar Donetsk.
Liverpool – potential winners of Group E – If Liverpool beat Spartak Moscow at Anfield, they will top Group E. Their next opponents will be either: Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Real Madrid or Roma.
Manchester City – confirmed winners of Group F. City are already confirmed as winners of Group F. As such, in the final 16 they will next face either: Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Real Madrid, Roma or Sevilla.
Manchester United – potential winners of Group C. United need a draw in their last game at Old Trafford against CSKA Moscow in order to secure finishing top of Group A. Their next opponents will then be chosen from: Bayern Munich, or Juventus, Porto, Real Madrid, Roma, Sevilla or Shakhtar Donetsk.
Tottenham Hotspur – confirmed winners of Group H – Spurs, having already finished top of Group H, will next face one of the following teams in their next game in the last 16: Basel, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Roma, Sevilla or Shakhtar Donetsk.
As far as the other English teams that are left in the competition, Spurs have thrown a huge spanner in the works by finishing in top position in Group H instead of Real Madrid. What this means in effect is that Real Madrid, the defending champions, will be unseeded.
But although Spurs’ English rivals may now have to play Real Madrid, Tottenham still face the challenge of next meeting either Bayern Munich or Juventus, two of the best teams left in the competition.
When all is said and done, there are no easy matches in the Champions League – after all, the teams involved are supposedly the elite of European soccer, and you cannot write off current champions, Real Madrid.