Champions League Round 6: Preview and Lineups

It’s the last round of the Champions League Group Stage, and by Wednesday we’ll find out the identities of all 16 teams qualified for the knockout stages. Some dramatic scenarios are in store as three Italian sides will be hoping to seal their tickets to the next phase of the competition. Lazio and Atalanta only need draws, but things are far more complicated for Inter. Meanwhile in Barcelona, the two biggest football stars of this generation will go head-to-head. So here is our preview and probable lineups for Round 6 of the Champions League group stage.

Barcelona vs Juventus 

As expected, Barcelona and Juventus made short work out of Dynamo Kyiv and Ferencvaros, as they both sealed their qualification as early as the 4th round. Thus, the match shouldn’t be as intense as other Champions League encounters during Round 6, but with Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo both present in the lineups, it’s all the excuse that football fanatics need to tune in for this one.

Ronald Koeman is expected to maintain his 4-2-3-1 formation, with Frankie De Jong alongside former Juventus man Miralem Pjanic in the double-pivot, and the formidable trio of Messi, Antoine Griezmann and Pedri supporting Martin Braithwaite in attack. For his part, Andrea Pirlo could once again revert to a 4-4-2 formation, with Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata up-front, Federico Chiesa and Aaron Ramsey on the wings, supported by full-backs Juan Cuadrado and Alex Sandro.

Since the Blaugrana won 2-0 in Turin, the Bianconeri will need to win this one by at least three goals in order to put themselves on top of Group G.

Lazio vs Club Brugge 

Lazio are enjoying a positive European campaign so far, with two victories and three draws in five matches, but they still need to ward off Club Brugge to earn their qualification. The first encounter between the two sides ended in a draw, but that was when the Biancocelesti had a depleted squad from a Covid-19 outbreak.

Simone Inzaghi should be able to rely on his best possible formation this time. Luis Alberto, Lucas Leiva and Sergei Milinkovic-Savic will form up the midfield three, while Joaquin Correa – who’s the only major doubt – could start behind Ciro Immobile in the typical 3-5-1-1 formation. On the other hand Philippe Clement’s lineup will feature former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet and midfielders Hans Vanaken and Ruud Vormer.

The capital side are still undefeated in the Champions League, but an untimely Round 6 defeat would put them out of the competition. However, with an almost complete squad and a home advantage, Lazio should be able to wrap this one up.

Ajax vs Atalanta 

The drama should continue on Wednesday night with another direct encounter for a knockout stage spot. During their first meeting in Bergamo, Ajax had a two-goal lead, but Atalanta mounted a comeback to earn a vital draw. And thanks to a historic victory in Anfield, La Dea are one point ahead of the Dutch champions in the Group D standings, and thus another draw would seal their qualification to the knockout stage for the second season in a row.

Erik ten Hag’s 4-3-3 formation will probably include the attacking trio of Dušan Tadić, Quincy Promes and the young Antony. On the other side, Gian Piero Gasperini will rely on an almost perfect 3-4-1-2 formation, with Alejandro Gomez playing just behind Duván Zapata and Josip Iličić in attack. Dutch wing-back Hans Hateboer and Marten De Roon will be facing their compatriots, while confusion regarding Robin Gosens’ Covid-19 test results marks the German as a doubtful participant.

A draw against the former European champions on their home turf in Amsterdam is easier said than done, but Atalanta have already won their first two away European fixtures this season, and it wouldn’t be the first time that Gomez and Co. pull off an unexpected achievement.

Inter vs Shakhtar Donetsk

For the first time in a long time, all four teams in a group will be heading to the last match-day hoping to seal a qualification spot. This epic Group B finale will include two former Champions League winners and two former UEFA Cup winners. While Real Madrid will be hosting the group leaders Borussia Monchengladbach, Inter will try to beat the odds and earn an unlikely qualification against Shakhtar Donetsk.

Antonio Conte finally has an almost complete squad to choose from, as he’s expected to start with Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez in attack, with the midfield trio of Nicolò Barella, Marcelo Brozovic and Arturo Vidal behind them, and the wing-back duo of Ashraf Hakimi and Ashley Young. For his part Luís Castro should be able to rely on his Brazilian attacking prowess in the form of Dentinho, Marlos, Tetê and Taison.

Whilst a win would surely be enough for the other three sides of the group, a victory for Inter might not be enough to seal the qualification, as a draw between Real and Gladbach would crush all remaining Nerazzurri hopes.