With one group game left to play in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League, the Spanish sides in the competition are well placed as usual.
Both Barcelona and Real Madrid have already qualified for the Round of 16, with Atletico Madrid and Valencia looking to confirm their places on the final day.
Of the former two, the blaugranes are better placed to negotiate the next stage safely, given that they have topped Group F, meaning that they can’t play any of the other group winners.
They’ll avoid the likes of Juventus, Manchester City, Bayern and Paris Saint-Germain until the quarter-finals at least, though they could be paired with Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham.
Let’s not forget that the ‘Special One’ has form against the club he once worked for under Bobby Robson, and he’d love nothing more than to put a spoke into Barca’s aspirations once again.
In all of the other groups, bearing in mind they can’t face Real Madrid, they’ll need to wait to see who grabs the all-important second spot in their groups.
Valencia will fight it out with Chelsea in Group H, and should Los Che progress, Barca won’t be playing their fellow La Liga side. Zenit and Lyon in Group G, Liverpool and Napoli in Group E, Bayer Leverkusen potentially in Group D, Shaktar, Dinamo Zagreb or Atalanta in Group C... all could end up at the Camp Nou.
After seeing how poorly Barcelona had played before they dismantled Borussia Dortmund in what was probably their finest performance this season, most of those clubs will have been licking their lips.
Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann all found the net against the German side, and the Catalans were back to being unplayable at times.
For a change, they’re not amongst the favourites for a title that would earn them millions in revenue, but that might actually suit them. Their worst start to a season for 25 years has changed the narrative as far as they are concerned, so perhaps slightly reduced expectations can be of benefit.
Real Madrid, meanwhile, will be kicking themselves that they allowed a two-goal lead to slip against PSG.
Though the French club were still favourites to finish on top of the pile prior to their meeting at the Santiago Bernabeu, when Los Blancos were 2-0 up with 11 minutes left to play, had they gone on to win the match they could then leapfrog the Parisiens if results in the final set of group games go their way.
With that option now out of the window, Zinedine Zidane’s side could be paired with his former club, Juve, Bayern or Manchester City at worst, or possibly against holders, Liverpool.
That won’t concern Real who’ve been playing brilliantly well over the last few weeks. Whether they’re still in such a rich vein of form come March when the competition begins again in earnest will determine if Zidane is able to mastermind another title tilt.
Atletico Madrid still have to win their final group game to be assured of progression, but they will have to start scoring goals sooner or later.
Both in Europe and La Liga, the Rojiblancos have just about managed a goal a game at best, but have remained successful largely because of their incredible defence.
Should they finish second in Group D, they could be paired with the same teams as Real (bar Juve), all of whom are pretty free-scoring. Might we see a case of the unstoppable force against the immovable object?
That leaves Valencia who also have to win their last match and hope Chelsea lose. A draw will be good enough if the Blues are defeated. They could even top the group if they beat current leaders Ajax and Chelsea draw or lose.
The permutations for Los Che at this point are many, suffice to say that for a team that are conceding as many as they are scoring (20 scored and conceded in La Liga, eight scored and seven conceded in the UCL), they’ll have to shore up their back line if they want to advance further.