German teams battle to advance in Champions League | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 09.12.2013
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German teams battle to advance in Champions League

This year's Champions League campaign hasn't gone completely to plan for all the Bundesliga participants. Yet Bayern are through, and the other teams have a decent chance to move on to the next round of the competition.

Bayern Munich - no surprises here - have already qualified for the Round of 16. But they will want to wrap up first place in Group D to avoid facing the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid in the next stage.

Their opponents on Tuesday are former English Premier League champions Manchester City, by far their toughest rivals in the group. The Bavarian club is also without stars such as Bastian Schweinsteiger, Philipp Lahm and Arjen Robben. But Bayern, playing at home, are the heavy favorites to seal the deal.

Coach Pep Guardiola's squad only has to avoid losing at home by three goals to claim top spot in the group. As they showed on Saturday, when they laid a 7-0 beating on Werder Bremen, Bayern are eminently capable of compensating for injuries. Meanwhile, City come to Munich on the heels of a disappointing draw with Southampton and are likely to see this match as a lost cause.

So fans can expect Bayern to extend their record-winning run in the Champions League and come out tops in Group D.

Leverkusen's Last Chance

Bayer Leverkusen player Son Heung-min

Leverkusen will have to cross their fingers

The Bundesliga's second-best team, Bayer Leverkusen, no longer control their own destiny in Group A. They go into their Tuesday against Spain's Real Sociedad in San Sebastian third in the group, which means they need both a win of their own and a bit of help from others.

Nonetheless, Leverkusen's prospects are anything but bleak. Leaders Manchester United still have a bit of work to do against Shakhtar Donetsk from Ukraine in order to seal top spot. A loss or a draw by the Ukrainian club would open the door for Sami Hyypiä's side to sneak into the final sixteen.

Getting an away win against the Spanish club should not be the biggest challenge. Sociedad have earned just one point this Champions League season, and Leverkusen are coming off a massive away win against Dortmund on Saturday in the Bundesliga.

The problem could be United. They lived up to their powerhouse reputation in thrashing Leverkusen 5-0 two weeks ago, but that has been one of their few convincing performances of late under new coach David Moyes. The Red Devils lost at home to Newcastle United on Saturday, and it is anyone's guess whether Manchester United's Jekyll or Hyde will turn up against Donetsk.

Leverkusen probably have at least a fifty percent chance of progressing.

Dortmund's Injury Devastation

Dortmund player Sokratis fights for the ball

Dortmund won their last CL match against Napoli

Dortmund do have their destiny in their own hands, sitting in second place in Group H and facing cellar dwellers Olympique Marseilles on Wednesday. The question is how many hands will be on deck for Borussia's trip to France? That's because both Sven Bender and Nuri Sahin picked up ankle injuries against Leverkusen.

That match, which Dortmund lost 1-0, suggested that perhaps the 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga champions may be hitting a physical and mental wall. Jürgen Klopp's troops managed only one clear goal chance over ninety minutes.

It is unclear who Klopp will field in central defense other than Sokratis. Bender, deputy defender in Dortmund's last Champions League match, has been ruled out, so a youngster from the reserves may get a promotion for a match with millions at stake. Otherwise, midfielder Sebastian Kehl could fill in, but he, too, has struggled with injury.

On the positive side, if group leaders Arsenal beat Napoli, Dortmund will go through regardless of their result. And should they beat Marseille, and Arsenal lose, Dortmund can even win the group.

That is a long shot, though. More likely would be Dortmund progressing as the second-placed team.

Do-or-die for Schalke

Jefferson Farfan celebrates

Schalke will hope Farfan does some thumb-sucking

Schalke go into their home match on Wednesday against Basel in a state of turmoil, but then again that is not so unusual for the Royal Blues, who spend at least half of every season in that mode.

Although Schalke are only third in Group E, they are in pretty good shape. Their situation is crystal clear, and they have their fate in their own hands. With a win against the Swiss side, the Royal Blues are through, and embattled coach Jens Keller has a small chance of keeping his job. If they draw or lose, they will drift down to the Europa League, and Keller can look for alternate employment.

Schalke lost 2-1 to Mönchengladbach on Saturday, but that was down to an untimely red card as much as anything. The Royal Blues fought bravely to turn things around despite being a man down and looked good doing so.

If they play with same intensity against Basel, Schalke should prevail. Conversely, a team that cannot beat a Swiss side at home in the crunch would have no business in the knock-out stage of the Champions League.

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