(Reuters) – Paris St Germain must win Wednesday’s Champions League clash at Juventus to guarantee finishing first in Group H as it could give the Ligue 1 side an advantage in the knockout stage draw, manager Christophe Galtier said on Tuesday.
The French club qualified for the last 16 with one game to spare after tearing Maccabi Haifa apart in a 7-2 win last week. They lead Group H with 11 points, above second-placed Benfica on goal difference as they have the same head-to-head record.
Benfica edged Juve 4-3 in a thriller at Estadio da Luz last week to also seal a place in the knockout stages and end the Italian club’s chances in this year’s competition.
The eight group winners will be seeded for the last 16 draw on Monday and will face one of the eight group runners-up.
Juventus must hold on to third place to seal a spot in the second-tier Europa League. The Turin-based club and Maccabi both have three points and the same head-to-head record but the Italians have a much better goal difference.
“Qualifying was obviously mandatory and finishing in first place in the group is an objective for us,” Galtier told reporters. “We are Paris St Germain and we have this sporting ambition.
“We know that Juventus are eliminated but they will do everything to qualify for the Europa League. This is a very big club who will want to play a good game by all means.”
Galtier said defender Presnel Kimpembe would miss the match due to a tendon injury, adding however that his availability for the next games was not at risk.
He added that Juve’s struggles in the Champions League have not been helped by having several injured players, including midfielder Paul Pogba and forward Federico Chiesa.
“These are matches where the absences of Pogba and Chiesa are influential. The piling up of injuries has weakened Juve both technically and mentally. The Champions League requires 110 per cent commitment,” he said.