Champions League: Group G is on the cutting edge and ALL FOUR sides hope for progress
While all eyes are on Group E, with Barcelona threatened by their first group stage elimination since 2000-01, a four-time shootout in Group G of the Champions League awaits tonight.
Lille, Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg have battled it out in five group matches and as all four sides prepare for tonight’s final group matches, it’s all still up for grabs for the quartet.
“It’s an important game,” Lille defender and former Southampton star Jose Font said on Tuesday. “We know what that means. We all want to put on a nice performance on Wednesday.
Group G is on the lookout with qualification for Champions League last-16 on offer
Lille, Salzburg, Sevilla and Wolfsburg all have a chance to get out of the group
“We will do everything we can to try and win. To be eligible, two results are possible. We will have to do well to have this opportunity to finish at the top of the group. We’ve chained two wins and it’s already good. We only think about winning.’
In a group where all four can still go through to the final day, Lille will be perhaps most confident of their position.
Sat atop the group with eight points, the Ligue 1 side travel to Germany to take on Wolfsburg, who is in fourth position on five points. Salzburg are in second place with seven points, while Sevilla in third on six points.
As Fonte points out, a win or a draw is enough to close out qualifying for the last 16, although the win will take first place and the French side will avoid Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Bayern Munich in the next round. . .
And they will certainly go to Germany in a cheerful mood. The French champions put in a rock-solid performance beating Troyes 2-1 over the weekend, then pitted against Wolfsburg who endured a scorching five-game slump without a win – culminating in Saturday’s 3-0 defeat in Mainz.
It is quite a task for the Bundesliga side to do the unthinkable and propel their rivals to a last-16 position, with victory being the only option for Florian Kohfeldt’s side to move forward.
Lille tops Group G and Jose Fonte (left) is confident in his team’s European status
They are also not helped by the absence of star striker Lukas Nmecha. The former Manchester City star player will be banned tonight due to an accumulation of yellow cards picked up during the competition.
Kohfeldt, however, insists that there are other members of his squad who may step into the 22-year absence.
“We still have one or the other in the selection who can score,” the 39-year-old coach insisted. ‘Together with Wout’ [Weghorst] we will have a very good mix. It is crucial to create the situations in the box.’
Remarkably, should the Germans find their shooting boots and beat the group leaders by a margin of three or more goals, and the other group match in Austria ends in a draw, they would climb from fourth to the top of the group.
They face Wolfsburg, with the Germans enduring a torrid run of five games without a win
The Germans are also without star attacker Lukas Nmecha tonight for their crunch clash
Sevilla will be out to close Wolfsburg and secure a qualifying spot for themselves.
Simply put, the Spaniard’s journey to Austria is a matter of make or die. Julen Lopetegui’s squad have been titans of the Europa League but have consistently fallen short on the big stage, but without European heavyweights in this group they are still on the brink of elimination from the Champions League.
A draw is not enough for Sevilla, with six points, to take Salzburg (7) and Wolfsburg (8) to the top two places. champions.
Julen Lopetegui’s Sevilla are in third and face a do-or-die clash with Salzburg in Austria
Lopetegui will not be able to use Suso, Marcos Acuna, Erik Lamela, Jesus Navas or Youssef En-Nesyri with all five players sidelined with injuries and the former Real Madrid boss has labeled this shootout a ‘final’.
“We now have a real final in our hands, in a complicated scenario against a complicated rival,” Lopetegui said after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Villarreal. “We have to rebuild, see what troops we have and prepare well.”
Lopetegui precisely Salzburg are a complicated side. At first glance, the Austrians are absolutely steamrolling their domestic league, leading their rivals by a whopping 12 points already.
Salzburg has won two of their last seven matches and is facing a European slump
GROUP OF LUMINAIRES
Wolfsburg v Lille – KO 8pm GMT
RB Salzburg v Seville – KO 8pm GMT
But they have only won two of their last seven games and have suffered back-to-back defeats in Europe at the hands of Lille and Wolfsburg. Like Sevilla, a draw may not be enough ahead of time as Wolfsburg win by a large margin in Germany.
‘We are going to give everything and win,’ Salzburg coach Matthias Jaissle said on Tuesday. “We’ll see if our performance is enough against a big European team like Sevilla.
“It’s an all-or-nothing game and we depend on ourselves to pass,” he added: “If someone had told us we could pass in the last game, we would have signed.”
All four sides talk a good game, but four doesn’t go into two. With Group G on the cutting edge, something has to be done.