MADRID SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 15: Head Coach Jose Mourinho (R) of Real Madrid greets Mesut Ozil as he substitutes him at the end of the match during the UEFA Champions League group G match between Real Madrid and Ajax at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on September 15 2010 in Madrid Spain. Real Madrid won the match 2-0. (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
With three points in the bag after a relatively straightforward trip to Zilina,I found myself wondering how many more points Chelsea need to qualify for the knockout rounds. There are five games left in the group stages, but what results would guarantee qualification? For that matter, what would guarantee first place? I took a look at some of the previous Champions League results (six years worth of data), and found that first place averages 13 points and second averages 10, but that's not quite enough. Rather, it's better to know second and third place results and make sure you beat them:
Figure 1: 2nd and 3rd place points totals for group stages of the Champions League, 2004-present.In the past six years, no third place team has ever scored more than 10 points, and the average is seven. Similarly, no second place team has ever gained more than 13 points, and the average is 10. Therefore, Chelsea need eight more points (two wins, two draws, and a loss) to guarantee second place at 11 points, and at least 11 more (three wins, two draws) to secure first place. We can be reasonably comfortable of qualifying with just drawing the rest of the way out, and the eight points required to guarantee second will probably lead the group anyway.
Essentially, targeting eight points in five games should be Chelsea's goal, and hopefully we can get there in three or four matches and give the first string some rest. It's an easy enough target to hit with the first game already wrapped up, and that should give Carlo Ancelotti some flexibility in team selection. Around the rest of the competition, Arsenal are in a similar boat, while Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur will probably want ten points out of the remaining five matches - probably not a problem for either team.