Which Champions League chumps are Europa League-bound?
Defeats for Inter Milan and Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday mean they are likely to be Europa League-bound in the New Year, as could Chelsea.
But it is by no means certain that Frank Lampard’s side will go through, with one of Chelsea, Valencia and last year’s beaten semi-finalists Ajax destined to drop into the Europa League.
The Blues need a win in Valencia next time or four points from their remaining two games to be sure of progression, and the fact they are at home to Lille on Matchday Six will be an advantage.
The French club’s hopes of staying in Europe are virtually gone after their 4-1 loss to Valencia at the Mestalla on Tuesday, which leaves Les Dogues bottom of the four-team group on only one point.
Los Che, on the other hand, will be buoyed by their victory as it puts them on a points par with the other two and brings their goal difference back into the positive.
Uefa’s rules to break ties in the group stage is first decided in head-to-head meetings between the teams concerned, which currently puts Chelsea second.
Lampard’s side have accumulated four points from a win and draw against Ajax after their Week One home loss against Valencia.
Ajax also have four points from their 3-0 away win against Valencia plus a draw and loss against Chelsea, but Valencia have just the three points that win at Stamford Bridge gave them because they still have both sides to play in their last two games.
But the Amsterdam club have the better goal difference than Chelsea in the head-to-head meetings of all three, which places them just ahead of the Blues at this point.
Chelsea arguably have the easier fixtures to come and Ajax must deal without their suspended central defensive duo of Daley Blind and Joel Veltman for their upcoming trip to Lille.
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Valencia could be the real dark horse for qualification and winning the group, which would ensure they would be seeded for the second-round draw.
But Chelsea have won both their away matches in the group stage this year and will be confident of obtaining a third that would ensure their own progression in three week’s time.
While it’s all to play for in Group H, it looks like ex-Chelsea boss Antonio Conte will be tearing his hair out over how his Inter Milan let a two-goal lead slip against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.
But because they have a better head-to-head record than the Germans, they can still go through if they win both of their remaining group games and Dortmund slip up once.
Zenit look done for, however, after falling to a 2-0 home defeat to RB Leipzig on Matchday Four. Branislav Ivanovic’s side must beat Lyon in three weeks to keep any hope of the last-16 alive.