Russian Clubs’ European Permutations

It’s been a great European season for the Russian clubs so far. Four out of the five participants, with the exception being FC Krasnodar, reached the group stage, where they have performed quite well, and three of them have already secured Europa League knockout spots. Moreover, both Spartak Moscow and CSKA Moscow still have chances to advance to the Champions League knockout stage, though to guarantee that, they both need big wins in England.

Here’s a brief rundown on all the European competition groups featuring Russian teams.

Champions League Group A
Manchester United 12 pts, FC Basel 9, CSKA Moscow 9, SL Benfica 0

CSKA travel to Old Trafford, and they need to score points there to have a chance of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stage, since Basel have a better head-to-head record.

CSKA advance to the Champions League knockout stage, if:

  • They defeat Manchester United with a +3 margin or more. They automatically qualify regardless of Basel’s result against Benfica: even if Basel win, three teams will have equal points, and CSKA have better tie-breaks than Basel (equal points, at least equal goal difference, but more goals scored). If CSKA win with a +5 margin, they win the group. If they manage to win with a +7 margin and Basel defeat Benfica, Manchester United are eliminated.
  • They defeat Manchester United with a +2 margin or less, and Basel don’t defeat Benfica.
  • They draw with Manchester United, and Basel lose to Benfica.

Otherwise, CSKA advance to the Europa League knockout stage. Either CSKA, Basel, or Manchester United can become only the second-ever team not to advance from a Champions League group with 12 points.

Champions League Group E
Liverpool 9 pts, Sevilla 8, Spartak Moscow 6, Maribor 2

Spartak, like CSKA, need an away win in England to advance to the Champions League knockout stage. Though in Spartak’s case, things are much more straightforward.

Spartak advance to the Champions League knockout stage, if:

  • They defeat Liverpool. Regardless of Sevilla’s result, Spartak will finish ahead of either Liverpool (if Sevilla win or draw against Maribor) or Sevilla (if Sevilla lose to Maribor). If Sevilla don’t defeat Maribor, Spartak also win the group.

Otherwise, Spartak advance to the Europa League knockout stage.

Europa League Group F
Sheriff Tiraspol 9 pts, Lokomotiv Moscow 8, FC Copenhagen 6, Fastav Zlin 2

Lokomotiv’s status is the most complicated. They still can be eliminated altogether if they lose to Zlin (away), and Sheriff lose to Copenhagen (also away). A win against Zlin, on the other hand, helps them qualify regardless of the result of Copenhagen vs. Sheriff.

A three-way tie can also arise in this group if Lokomotiv draw Zlin and Sheriff lose to Copenhagen. In this case, everything depends on the exact score of Copenhagen vs. Sheriff:

  • If Copenhagen win by a margin of +2 or more, Copenhagen and Lokomotiv qualify.
  • If Copenhagen win 1-0, Lokomotiv and Sheriff qualify.
  • If Copenhagen win 2-1 or 3-2, Sheriff and Lokomotiv qualify.
  • If Copenhagen win 4-3 or more, Copenhagen and Sheriff qualify.

Europa League Group L
Zenit St. Petersburg 13 pts, Real Sociedad 12, Rosenborg BK 4, FK Vardar 0

The most straightforward situation. Zenit and Real Sociedad have already qualified, and in the last round they face each other to determine the group winner. It’s enough for Zenit to draw to clinch first place.

To round things up, here’s what each of the Russia’s Europa League teams need to do to be seeded for the knockout draw.

Zenit:

  • Defeat or draw Real Sociedad.

Lokomotiv:

  • Defeat Zlin, or
  • Draw against Zlin, if Copenhagen defeat Sheriff exactly 1-0.

Possible Champions League eliminations:

Here’s the current table of third-placed teams in the Champions League.

CSKA 9 points, goals 7-8
Sporting 7 points, goals 8-7
RB Leipzig 7 points, goals 9-9
Spartak 6 points, goals 9-6
Napoli 6 points, goals 10-9
Atletico 6 points, goals 4-3
Celtic 3 points, goals 5-17
Dortmund 2 points, goals 5-10

CSKA

A draw with Manchester United guarantees CSKA seeding in the Europa League knockout stage (if they don’t qualify for the Champions League knockout in the process).

If CSKA lose, the following teams may still overtake them:

Sporting/Juventus

  • If Sporting defeat Barcelona and Juventus draw against Olympiacos, Juventus overtake CSKA on goal difference
  • If Sporting defeat Barcelona and Juventus defeat Olympiacos, Sporting overtake CSKA by points
  • Otherwise, neither Sporting nor Juventus overtake CSKA

RB Leipzig

  • If Porto defeat Monaco and RB Leipzig defeat Besiktas, RB Leipzig overtake CSKA by points
  • Otherwise, neither Porto nor RB Leipzig overtake CSKA

Liverpool

  • If Spartak defeat Liverpool and Sevilla defeat or draw with Maribor, Liverpool overtake CSKA on goal difference (unless Spartak somehow defeat them 13-0 or more, depending on the exact score of Manchester United vs CSKA)
  • Otherwise, neither Liverpool, Sevilla nor Spartak overtake CSKA

Napoli

  • If Napoli defeat Feyenoord and Shakhtar don’t lose to Manchester City, Napoli overtake CSKA on goal difference.
  • Otherwise, neither Shakhtar nor Napoli overtake CSKA

Atlético

  • If Atlético defeat Chelsea and Roma draw with Qarabag, Roma overtake CSKA on goal difference
  • If Atlético defeat Chelsea and Roma defeat Qarabag, Atletico overtake CSKA on goal difference
  • Otherwise, neither Atletico nor Roma overtake CSKA

At least four of the aforementioned results must happen simultaneously for CSKA to lose their seeding spot.

Spartak

With Spartak, it’s more complicated. If Spartak win, they do not go to Europa League at all, since they qualify for the Champions League knockout stage regardless of Maribor vs. Sevilla. So, the best score that gets them to Europa League is 7 points.

If Spartak draw with Liverpool, the following teams can overtake them:

Sporting

  • If Sporting don’t lose to Barcelona, they overtake Spartak on points.
  • Otherwise, Sporting don’t overtake Spartak.

RB Leipzig/Porto

  • If RB Leipzig don’t lose to Besiktas and Porto don’t lose to Monaco, they overtake Spartak on points.
  • If either of these two teams lose, they don’t overtake Spartak.

Napoli

  • If Napoli defeat Feyenoord, they overtake Spartak on points.
  • Otherwise, Napoli don’t overtake Spartak.

Atlético

  • If Atlético defeat Chelsea, they overtake Spartak on points.
  • Otherwise, Atlético don’t overtake Spartak.

At least three of the aforementioned results must happen simultaneously for Spartak to lose their seeding spot.

If Spartak lose to Liverpool, the following teams can overtake them:

Napoli

  • If Napoli don’t lose to Feyenoord, they overtake Spartak on points.
  • If Napoli lose to Feyenoord by a smaller (at least by 2 goals) margin than Spartak lose to Liverpool, they overtake Spartak on goal difference.
  • Otherwise, Napoli don’t overtake Spartak.

Atlético

  • If Atlético don’t lose to Chelsea, they overtake Spartak on points.
  • If Atlético lose to Chelsea by a smaller (at least by 3 goals) margin than Spartak lose to Liverpool, they overtake Spartak on goal difference.
  • Otherwise, Napoli don’t overtake Spartak.

At least one of the aforementioned results must happen for Spartak to lose their seeding spot.

Author: Alexey Spektrowski

I’m a Spartak Moscow fan who dabbles in Soviet/Russian football history (mostly numerical and statistical). Contributed some data to the Spartak Moscow museum at Otkrytie Arena.

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