Former winners Sevilla and Tottenham could ease through to the next round of the UEFA Cup when the group stage concludes this week, or just as easily slump out of the competition.
Both need a point from their final matches to make sure of a spot in the next round, but an unpopular format that allows three of the five teams from each group to progress means that they could also go through if they lose if other results go their way.
Sevilla, which is third in the Spanish League and won the UEFA Cup in 2006 and last year, has won two of its first three Group C matches but will be out if it loses at Sampdoria tomorrow and Stuttgart beats already qualified Standard Liege.
Similarly, Tottenham has to avoid defeat against visiting Spartak Moscow or a victory for NEC Nijmegen over Group D leader Udinese could dump the two-time champion out of the competition.
Tottenham is in good form with nine wins in 13 matches since Harry Redknapp succeeded Juande Ramos as coach, but midfielder Jermaine Jenas and defender Jonathan Woodgate are both out of the match with injuries.
Redknapp said he would have to put teenage midfielders John Bostock and Dean Parratt in his squad.
With Luka Modric and former Spartak striker Roman Pavlyuchenko both cup-tied, the injury problems have shown how wrong Ramos was not to register Paul Stalteri, Ricardo Rocha, Hossam Ghaly, Adel Taarabt and Kevin-Prince Boateng for the tournament.
Redknapp reinstated the quintet to his Premier League squad shortly after arriving, but cannot use them in Europe.
Groups E and F have already yielded their qualifiers for the next round, leaving the teams jockeying for position today. Group winners get the supposed bonus of avoiding the teams that enter the competition in the next round having been eliminated from the more prestigious Champions League.
Wolfsburg will be without top striker Grafite because of a head injury and can top Group E if it avoids defeat at seven-time European champion AC Milan.
Ajax, Aston Villa and Hamburg are already through from Group F, with the German side keen to take first place.
“It’s not a friendly,” coach Martin Jol said.
Ajax hosts Slavia Prague without its injured Real Madrid-bound captain Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, while Feyenoord’s miserable season looks set to continue in Group H.
The Rotterdam club, which is languishing in 12th place in the Dutch league after a 1-0 loss to leader AZ Alkmaar, hosts Lech Poznan knowing it cannot progress.
Racing Santander needs to beat visiting Manchester City to leapfrog Schalke in Group A and progress alongside the English club and FC Twente, while Olympiakos can fill the final Group B slot if it avoids defeat to Hertha Berlin.
FC Brugge and FC Copenhagen go head-to-head in Belgium today to fill the remaining slot in Group G.