Champions League: Barça on brink of exit, Messi powering PSG

Oct 23, 2022, 4:11 AM | Updated: 4:18 pm

LONDON (AP) — The Champions League enters the next-to-last round of games, with five teams — Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Napoli and Club Brugge — already qualified for the last 16.

Here’s a few things to look out for this week:


While Madrid has advanced with two games to spare, the other Spanish teams — Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Sevilla — face elimination after poor group-stage campaigns. Barcelona and Sevilla are in the toughest situations. Atlético, which hosts Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, can go through with two victories to close out Group B. Barcelona may play its home match against Bayern Munich on Wednesday knowing it is already out of contention in Group C if Inter Milan defeats last-place Viktoria Plzen at home in the earlier game. It would mean a second consecutive elimination for Barcelona in the group stage.


Back-to-back wins over AC Milan have lifted Chelsea from the bottom of Group E to the top. The two-time champion still has work to do to qualify, though. Just three points separate the four teams in the group as Chelsea heads to second-place Salzburg on Tuesday and Milan travels to Dinamo Zagreb. The loser of the game in Zagreb will likely be knocked out of contention. If it’s a draw, the winner of the Salzburg-Chelsea game will advance. Salzburg is looking to advance to the round of 16 for the second straight year, whereas Chelsea hasn’t failed to advance from the group stage since the 2012-13 season — when it was the defending champion. Even if Chelsea loses in Austria, the team will get another chance to qualify when Dinamo visits Stamford Bridge in the final round. Of the other English teams, Tottenham leads another tight group — Group D — and will advance if it beats Sporting at home on Wednesday, while Liverpool just needs a point at Ajax on Wednesday to go through alongside Napoli in Group A.


Lionel Messi looks to maintain his stellar form for Paris Saint-Germain, which remains unbeaten this season and will seal a place in the last 16 with a home win against last-place Maccabi Haifa in Group H on Tuesday. Even a draw at Parc des Princes is enough if Juventus does not win away to Benfica. Messi is getting his sharpness back and is combining brilliantly with Neymar again, just like during their Barcelona days. Messi’s connection on the field with Kylian Mbappé is improving quickly. He assisted on both of Mbappé’s goals in a 3-0 French league win on Friday, with Mbappé setting up Messi’s goal. With Neymar also impressing, this is bad news for Maccabi, which must win to stand any chance of going through. Meanwhile, Marseille’s league form has fallen apart after a third straight defeat, and European soccer seems like a release for the 1993 champion. Victory away to German side Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday will give Marseille a third straight win in a tight Group D, and boost its chances of finishing top with Tottenham to follow at home.


Cameroon striker Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is helping Bayern forget about Robert Lewandowski before their reunion at Barcelona on Wednesday in Group C. Lewandowski, who scored 344 goals in 375 games for Bayern in a trophy-laden spell from 2014-22, switched in the summer to Barcelona, where he has continued as he left off. There were concerns that Bayern missed the Poland star’s clinical presence as it endured four straight Bundesliga games without a win, but those worries have been eased since the international break with Choupo-Moting scoring four goals after starting in Bayern’s last three games. Choupo-Moting played a one-two with Serge Gnabry and scored again Saturday to seal Bayern’s 2-0 win at Hoffenheim. Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann praised the 33-year-old forward as a “fully fledged top striker who scores, who works and who holds the ball well up front.”


Juventus is facing the prospect of going out of the Champions League at the group stage for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Anything but a win at Benfica on Tuesday in Group H would consign Juventus to an early exit as it is five points behind the Portuguese side and Paris Saint-Germain. Even a victory would still leave Juventus needing to win against PSG in the final group match to have any hope of progressing. Both PSG and Benfica are unbeaten in the competition this season. Juventus routed Empoli 4-0 on Friday for its second straight Serie A win and has been further boosted by the return of Federico Chiesa to training. However, it lost midfielder Leandro Paredes for at least two weeks with a thigh injury. Ángel Di María, Gleison Bremer and Mattia De Sciglio are also still injured.


AP World Cup coverage: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Shohei Ohtani, left, of Los Angeles Angels, and Japan's manager Hideki Kuriyama, right, pose togeth...
Associated Press

Ohtani set for WBC in Japan, but Angels future uncertain

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Although Shohei Ohtani’s long-term future with the Los Angeles Angels is decidedly uncertain as he heads into the final season under contract, the two-way superstar’s plans for the spring are all set. Ohtani will make one start on the Cactus League mound this month for the Angels before he heads to […]
2 days ago
Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach speaks after the NFL AFC Championship playoff footba...
Associated Press

Super Bowl-bound Chiefs are built around Patrick Mahomes

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs are built around their half-billion dollar All-Pro quarterback, and for the past five years, Super Bowl-bound Patrick Mahomes has made everyone else around him all the more valuable. He’s taken marginal wide receivers and turned them into stars. Mediocre offensive linemen became stalwarts. Finishing the second […]
2 days ago
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman speaks before the NHL All-Star hockey game, Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023, i...
Associated Press

Gary Bettman defends NHL handling of Pride night situations

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman at his state of the game news conference Saturday at All-Star Weekend defended the way the league and two teams handled situations that arose regarding Pride night celebrations. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov did not take part in warmups Jan. 18 because he refused to wear a […]
2 days ago
Atlantic Division's Matthew Tkachuk, of the Florida Panthers (19) and Metropolitan Division's Brock...
Associated Press

NHL All-Star Game final matchup: Central vs Atlantic

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — The Central Division and the Atlantic Division have reached the final of the NHL All-Star Game. One of them will actually win the thing. Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk had three goals and two assists — his five points tying a single-game record for the 3-on-3 All-Star format — in the Atlantic’s 10-6 […]
2 days ago
FILE - Texas sports editor, Denne Freeman listens to University of Texas Safety Stanley Richard dur...
Associated Press

Former AP sports writer Denne H. Freeman dies at 86

DALLAS (AP) — Retired longtime Associated Press sports writer Denne H. Freeman, whose 32 years with the AP included covering all five Super Bowl championships won by the Dallas Cowboys and many golf majors, has died after a series of health issues. He was 86. Freeman’s family said he died Friday night at a Plano […]
2 days ago
FILE - Allegiant Stadium is shown during the second half of the Pro Bowl NFL football game between ...
Associated Press

NFL infuses Pro Bowl with points system, flag football

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The NFL finally stopped pretending its all-star game was an actual game, and is breathing life into the exhibition with Sunday’s Pro Bowl Games. There will be no tackle football played for the first time — not that there was much tackling in recent years, more like two-hand touch. Flag football […]
2 days ago
Champions League: Barça on brink of exit, Messi powering PSG