Madrid: Borussia Dortmund's last Champions League group game against Manchester City next month could turn out to be a dead rubber after the German champions drew 2-2 at Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Dortmund, sparkling against Real, need only draw at Ajax later this month to reach the last 16, which would make a game circled as a potential winner-takes-all purely academic.
Superb again for much of the match against nine-times European champions Real after beating them 2-1 in Dortmund last month, the Germans can be excused for having one eye on the knockout stage from their perch at the top of Group D.
Having grabbed four points from a possible six against Real, coach Juergen Klopp had every right to be beaming after his side made it eight points from four games, one point ahead of Real.
"We would have been quite happy to seal qualification with this game," he told reporters. "But we won our direct comparison with Real and we were not counting on that at the start.