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After Barça had been held to a 0-0 draw at home to Slavia Prague in Champions League Group F, Borussia Dortmund then went on to defeat Inter Milan in a cracking game at the Westfalenstadion, turning around a 2-0 deficit at the break to take all three points through Achraf Hakimi (2) and Julian Brandt.
Had Barça beaten the Czechs, qualification would have been all but assured. In fact, the only potential scenario in which the blaugranes could have missed out on the last sixteen would have been a hypothetical three-way tie with Dortmund and Inter on ten points, in which case head-to-head results would have come into play.
But all that is water under the bridge. And all is not doom. Far from it. Barça are still unbeaten and top of the group and very comfortably poised to qualify for the knockout round.
A win in either of the two last fixtures would make sure of that, and there is even the chance that Barça could lose both games and still qualify!
Let’s have a closer look at the possible outcomes.
Current standings (full table here)
FC Barcelona: 8
Borussia Dortmund: 7
Inter Milan 4
Slavia Prague: 2
Slavia Prague v Inter Milan
FC Barcelona v Borussia Dortmund
Inter Milan v FC Barcelona
Borussia Dortmund v Slavia Prague
Note: It is impossible for Slavia Prague to finish ahead of Barça. Even losing both games and the Czechs winning both of theirs, which would mean a tie on eight points, the blaugranes would still be above them on the head-to-head. This means Barça are already assured of at least a Europa League berth, but that of course is NOT the target!
Beat Dortmund: We qualify (and top the group)
This would leave Barça four points clear of the Germans. It would be impossible for any of the other three teams to catch them, so they would win the group with a game in hand.
Barça have played eight groups stage games against German teams at the Camp Nou since the turn of the century and won them all. Do it again and problem solved!
Draw with Dortmund: Still in Barça's hands
If the Germans manage to get a point at the Camp Nou, the blaugranes would still be top of the group going into the final round of matches. Another draw in Milan on the final day would be enough to secure qualification. Lose to Inter and we would be depending on Slavia Prague taking points from either Dortmund or Inter in the other games.
Lose to Dortmund: Still in Barça's hands
Lose at home to the Germans and Barça would still be ahead of Inter going into the final fixture of the group stage, against the Italians at the Giuseppe Meazza. So a draw in Italy would be enough to ensure qualification, no matter what happens in other games.
Win or draw against Inter Milan: Barça qualify
In other words, no matter what happens against Dortmund, a point at the Giuseppe Meazza on the final day would ensure Barça finish above the Italians and qualify for the last eighteen.
Again, history is on the blaugranes' side. In nine group stage trips to Italy this century, they have only been beaten once.
Inter lose to Slavia. Barça qualify
The Italians face a tricky trip to Prague in three weeks’ time and they need at least a point from that game to have any chance of finishing above Barça. Remember, the game in Milan ended 1-1. Inter lose and Valverde's team will qualify whatever happens in their last two matches.
Lose to Dortmund and Inter: Still a chance
But what if it all goes wrong in the last two games… Even if Barça lose them both they still have a fairly strong chance of qualifying. A lot would depend on how Inter have done on their trip to Prague in game five.
If Inter lose to Slavia, it wouldn’t even matter. Baça would be through anyway.
If Inter draw at Slavia, then victory against Barça would leave the teams tied on eight points. It would all come down to head-to-head results. Remember, Barça won 2-1 at Camp Nou, so they could afford to lose 1-0 and still qualify.
If Inter beat Slavia, then the blaugranes would go out if the Serie A side win at home to Barça (but remember, that is only if Barça have also lost to Dortmund as well).
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