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Rediff News  All News  » Sports » Thirteen down and three to go in Champions League

Thirteen down and three to go in Champions League

December 08, 2008 15:37 IST

There is still plenty to be decided in the final round of group matches in the UEFA Champions League this week even though 13 of the 16 teams through to the knockout phase are already known.

European Cup holders Manchester United and the likes of nine-times champions Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Arsenal and Liverpool have secured their places in the first knockout round -- first legs in February -- but last season's beaten finalists Chelsea cannot afford to relax just yet.

Luiz Felipe Scolari's men should seal their place when they face CFR Cluj of Romania in Group A at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday (0015 IST) even though the visitors held Chelsea to a 0-0 draw at home in October.

Group A is the only section in which neither qualifier is known but AS Roma should advance along with Chelsea, as long as they do not lose at home to Girondins Bordeaux.

If Bordeaux should win, though, and Cluj were to cause the upset of the season and win or even draw at Chelsea, then the French side would advance with Roma.

The only other last-16 place up for grabs is in Group B where Inter Milan are already through leaving Panathinaikos and Anorthosis Famagusta fighting for the other berth.

Panathinaikos will join Inter if they avoid defeat at home against the Cypriot side, who themselves need a win to qualify.

Inter coach Jose Mourinho has said he will probably rest Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the trip to Werder Bremen, who are bottom but could steal into the UEFA Cup if they finish third by beating the Italian side and Panathinaikos beat Anorthosis.

All the issues have been settled in Group C with Barcelona winning it and Sporting also through, Shakhtar Donetsk heading for the UEFA Cup and Basel eliminated.

Group D finds Atletico Madrid and Liverpool on 11 points and Olympique Marseille and PSV Eindhoven both on three with PSV hosting Liverpool and Atletico visiting Marseille.

The key issues to be settled are who finishes top and who goes into the UEFA Cup. PSV have to have a better result than Marseille to enter the UEFA Cup as the French side will advance if they both finish level on points.

Marseille coach Eric Gerets and chairman Pape Diouf called on the fans to stay calm when Atletico visit after supporter Santos Mirasierra was sentenced to three and a half years in prison following clashes with police at the Calderon in October.


The main issues to be decided on Wednesday concern which teams will be consoled for their elimination from the Champions League with a place in the UEFA Cup.

That does not apply to Group E, however, as Manchester United and Villarreal are already through with AaB Alborg in the UEFA Cup and Celtic out. United, at home to Aalborg, and Villarreal, who visit Celtic, are vying for top place.

Either Olympique Lyon or Bayern Munich will win Group F depending on the outcome of their match in France, while Fiorentina will move into the UEFA Cup unless they lose to Steaua in Bucharest.

The situation is similar in Group G where Arsenal and Porto are already through and meet each other to determine the group winners. Fenerbahce, who are bottom of the section, need a win at Dynamo Kiev to go through to the UEFA Cup.

The only issue still to be decided in Group H is whether Juventus or Real Madrid finish top.

Juventus, unbeaten in their last 14 home European ties, should be too strong for BATE Borisov, who will finish fourth and out at the end of their Champions League debut season.

If Juve slip up and Real Madrid beat Zenit St Petersburg, the Spanish team will finish top.

Zenit, who won the UEFA Cup last season, are already assured of the chance of defending the trophy, having secured third spot.

Mike Collett
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