UEFA Champions League Group D preview: Europa League spot available
By Football News
The top two positions may have already been decided but there is still plenty to play for during matchday six in Group D on Tuesday.
Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund progressed to the knockout rounds as group winners, while Spanish champions Real Madrid have also qualified albeit as runners-up, however, the Europa League position is yet to be decided.
The third-placed team across every Champions League group earn a spot in the knockout phase of the Europa League.
Dutch giants Ajax occupy that position by a solitary point ahead of English Premier League champions Manchester City, who have failed to make it out of the group stage for a second successive year.
Ajax travel to the Bernabeu to face Real and will qualify if they beat the Madrid-based club.
Frank de Boer's men were on the receiving end of a 4-1 drubbing in Dortmund last time out but know defeat in Spain may not end their European journey.
Given they have a superior head-to-head record against City, Ajax would still advance even if the Premier League club managed a draw in Germany.
Ajax goes into their final fixture on the back of an impressive 3-1 win at home to Eredivisie rivals PSV. Saturday's result moved them within four points of league leaders FC Twente.
Ajax also boasts a strong away record in Europe, with just one defeat in their last five games, while they have triumphed twice from five visits to Madrid.
As for Real, Jose Mourinho is expected to give a number of fringe players much-needed game time with qualification already assured and a La Liga campaign to think about.
In the other fixture, Dortmund host City knowing they are guaranteed to finish atop of Group D.
Juergen Klopp's side, who played out a 1-1 draw with Bundesliga pacesetters Bayern Munich on Saturday, have never lost a UEFA competition fixture when hosting English opposition.
And while they have conceded six goals in the last five minutes of their past seven Champions League games, Dortmund head into the game confident of maintaining their unbeaten run in Group D.
It has been a campaign to forget for Roberto Mancini and his City players with just three draws and two defeats thus far.
They are, however, unbeaten in eight league and cup games since losing 3-1 at Ajax and could yet salvage something from a dismal European campaign if results go their way.