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High drama on tap today in UCL Group Stage finales

Update***

Here’s the quick and dirty of what you need to know about Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League results:

  • In Group A: Manchester United got a timely goal from Phil Jones to claim top spot in the group with a 1-0 victory at home against Shaktar Donetsk. The Ukrainian champions were bumped to second place by Bayer Leverkusen, the Germans winning 1-0 in Spain against Real Sociedad. Sami Hyppia’s men now move on to the Round of 16.
  • In Group B: Ronaldo came back from injury and scored to set a record for most goals in a single Group Stage with nine. More on that here. Real Madrid’s victory against Copenhagen means Juventus and Galatasaray, who saw their game abandoned just before halftime amid a dangerous wintry mix, have it all to play for when the contest resumes Wednesday. If Galatasaray wins, they advance to the next round. Any other result means the Old Lady moves on and the Turkish team slides into the UEFA Europa League.
  • In Group C: Benfica performed valiantly, coming from behind to beat Paris Saint-Germain, who had already sealed top spot, 2-1 in Portugal. The effort came up short, though, as Olympiakos beat Anderlecht, leaving Benfica and the Greeks tied on 10 points. Olympiakos nabbed second having scored two more goals, as each side conceded eight in the competition.
  • In Group D: Though they remained in second place, Manchester City got a historic win against German giants and UCL holders Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena. The Sky Blues fought back from a two goal deficit to claim a 3-2 victory. The two teams ended up tied on 15 points, but the Bavarians earned top place on goal difference. Meanwhile, Viktoria Plzen, the Czech champions, were clearly more excited about the prospect of Europa League play than CSKA Moscow. Plzen scored two goals in the contests’ final 15 minutes to finish third. They celebrated like they had won the cup, too. Good stuff.

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Come back Wednesday for previews of the last eight matches to be played in this year’s UCL Group Stage in which English table-toppers Arsenal, UEFA Europa League kings Chelsea, Italian elites AC Milan and Napoli, last year’s runner-up Borussia Dortmund and fellow German greats Schalke and a gaggle of others fight it out for the remaining eight spots in the Knockout Round. 

The time has come to separate the European elites from the domestic champions not equipped to compete with the continent’s other top clubs as today marks the kickoff of the final week of UEFA Champions League Group Stage play.

Seven of the 16 teams in action today still are yet to learn their fates, including traditional powers such as Juventus, Galatasaray, Olympiakos and Benfica.

Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Manchester United know they’ve booked places in the Round of 16 but want to win today to grab first place in the group and be seeded when the draw takes place.

Others will be keen to claim third place and the UEFA Europa League spot if affords.

Eight stunning games all kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET today and will bring finality, triumph and despair across Europe. Let’s see how it all breaks down:

Group A

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Manchester United v Shaktar Donetsk, Old Trafford

Real Sociedad v Bayer Leverkusen, Estadio Anoeta

Manchester United is through and will clinch top spot with a draw today in the once friendly confines of Old Trafford, a ground upon which the Red Devils have lost two games within a week by 1-0 scores. Wayne Rooney returns from suspension for David Moyes’ men, who will be eager to turn things right in front of the disillusioned home support.

Shaktar, meanwhile, which drew 1-1 against the Red Devils in Ukraine, is just one point ahead of Bayern Leverkusen and will be desperate to get a result as the Germans travel to Real Sociedad to face an inexperienced side that’s managed only a single draw in five games of the Group Stage. Today’s results decide who finishes moves on to the UCL Knockout Round and who enters the UEFA Europa League with a third place finish in Group A.

Group B

Juventus v Galatasaray AS - UEFA Champions League

FC Copenhagen v Real Madrid, Parkstadion

Galatasaray v Juventus, Turk Telekom Arena

Real Madrid has already clinched first place, the only intrigue with Los Blancos being if Cristiano Ronaldo plays and scores to set the record for most goals in a single Group Stage with nine (He shares the mark now with Ruud van Nistelrooy, Filippo Inzaghi and Hernan Crespo).

Juventus is poised to advance after struggling through the competition with just one win and three draws for six points. Despite the laborious campaign, the Scudetto holders led by Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal can defend their way to a spot in the next round.

They face Roberto Mancini’s Gala, a side that earned a draw when the two teams played in Italy as both teams scored in the final five minutes. Galatasaray, two points behind the Old Lady, needs to win today to advance.

FC Copenhagen, in a shock, could advance with a famous win against Real Madrid and the right result in Turkey. The Danish champions need a Galatasaray victory and to win by a larger margin than the Turks, as each sits tied on four points with a -7 goal difference leading into the day.

Group C

FBL-EUR-C1-PSG-BENFICABenfica v Paris Saint-Germain, Estadio da Luz

Olympiakos v Anderlecht, Karaiskaki Stadium

PSG has the top spot and has been dominant in Group C, their 15 goals in five matches thus far second only to Real Madrid’s 18 in this competition. No one can catch them.

The drama lies in who will notch second place. Olympiakos is ahead of Benfica on goal difference in the race for the coveted spot. Both have seven points, with the Greeks getting the nod heading into toddy’s contest having scored seven goals compared to six for the Portuguese. Each side has conceded seven times, as well. Will PSG go full bore in an effort to help Olympiakos? There’s plenty of mystery here.

Group D

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Bayern Munich v Manchester City, Allianz Arena

Viktoria Plzen v CSKA Moscow, Struncovy Sady Stadion

We know who is going through, and it’s the two giants we all would have expected when the groups were drawn: Bayern Munich and Manchester City. They lock horns today with the Sky Blues needing a shocking seven-goal victory to pip the Bavarians to top spot. We wouldn’t count on that, but do expect a rousing game in the Allianz Arena.

Despite being thoroughly outclassed by their competition in this group, conceding 15 and 16 goals, respectively, CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen have plenty to play for today in the Czech Republic. CSKA Moscow will win a place in the UEFA Europa League if they can avoid losing by five goals on their travels. If not, the Gambrinus Liga kings will continue their European adventure awhile longer.

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training

No matter who wins today, you can be sure that you’ll find the widest selection of everything you see on the field and in training among the top European clubs at SOCCER.COM. Put some Pep in your step just like Bayern Munich, if you’ll pardon the pun.

What match are you most looking forward to today? Let us know in the comments section below.