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Champions League Preview: Big clubs in fear of dropping to Europa League



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Nine teams are through from the group stage but 16 other sides can still dream of joining them this week. Here’s a look at the the key deciding matches of today and tomorrow.

Seven places remain to be filled in the 16 December round of 16 draw.

Group winners FC Bayern München, FC Internazionale Milano, Real Madrid CF, Arsenal FC and holders FC Barcelona plus fellow qualifiers SL Benfica, Bayer 04 Leverkusen, APOEL FC and AC Milan are already confirmed in the knockout phase but 16 other sides are still competing to join them. Eight clubs will transfer to the UEFA Europa League round of 32 for finishing third in their sections.

For our US-based readers – you can win signed UEFA Champions League gear and other prizes just by watching this week’s Champions League games, courtesy of Heineken.

Tuesday 6 December

Group E

Chelsea FC v Valencia CF
KRC Genk v Bayer 04 Leverkusen

  • Leverkusen are through even if they lose and Chelsea and Valencia draw to join them on nine points; in that scenario the German club would come top. A win against already eliminated Genk would secure first place.
  • Whoever prevails at Stamford Bridge progresses with the losing side finishing third. A score draw will be enough for Valencia while a goalless result will take Chelsea through unless Leverkusen lose.

Group F

Olympiacos CF v Arsenal FC
Borussia Dortmund v Olympique de Marseille

  • Arsenal have clinched qualification as group winners but any of the other three teams could still end up second, third or fourth.
  • Marseille are second so a victory in Germany would be sufficient, or a draw if Olympiacos fail to win.
  • Olympiacos must win and hope Marseille do not. If Olympiacos draw they will still advance if Dortmund triumph 2-0 or by a margin of three or four goals. Any other two-goal or a one-goal margin of Dortmund victory would take Marseille through.
  • Dortmund need to beat Marseille by four goals or more and hope Olympiacos lose, or by five goals or more should Olympiacos draw.

Group G

APOEL FC v FC Shakhtar Donetsk
FC Porto v FC Zenit St Petersburg

  • APOEL are confirmed as the first Cypriot outfit to get past the group stage and will finish top if they overcome eliminated Shakhtar, or if they draw and Zenit fail to win.
  • Porto have to win to pip Zenit to the other qualifying berth.

Group H

FC Barcelona v FC BATE Borisov
FC Viktoria Plzeň v AC Milan

  • Barcelona will come first and Milan second.
  • Third-placed Plzeň are two points ahead of BATE and the Czech club will only be denied a UEFA Europa League berth should they lose to Milan and Borisov win in Barcelona.

Wednesday 7 December

Group A

Manchester City FC v FC Bayern München
Villarreal CF v SSC Napoli

  • Bayern have clinched the group and Villarreal will finish fourth.
  • Napoli, in second, are a point above City. To overtake the Italian team, City must win against Bayern and hope Villarreal avoid defeat.

Group B

FC Internazionale Milano v PFC CSKA Moskva
LOSC Lille Métropole v Trabzonspor AŞ

  • Inter Milan have topped the group yet a single point separates the other three sides, with Trabzonspor a point clear of Lille and CSKA.
  • Lille or Trabzonspor will end up second should they win their encounter in France.
  • If that match is drawn, CSKA can pip Trabzonspor to the runners-up spot with victory in Milan. If CSKA do not triumph in those circumstances, Trabzonspor would go through on seven points, the joint-lowest tally since it became three for a win.
  • CSKA will come fourth if they lose; however, a draw will give them third place unless the other game also finishes level.

Group C

FC Basel 1893 v Manchester United FC
SL Benfica v FC Oţelul Galaţi

  • Benfica, level with United and a point ahead of Basel but boasting a superior head-to-head against both clubs, are through. They will seal pole position with a success against Oţelul, who will be fourth regardless of their result.
  • The encounter in Switzerland will decide the other qualifying place with Basel requiring a victory to overtake United, who last missed the knockout phase in 2005/06. If Benfica do not win, Basel or United will claim top spot with a victory.

Group D

AFC Ajax v Real Madrid CF
GNK Dinamo Zagreb v Olympique Lyonnais

  • Madrid have won the section to make it past the group stage for a record 15th year running. Three points in Amsterdam will make them only the fifth team to register a perfect record in a UEFA Champions League group, and the first since Barcelona in 2002/03. None of the previous four have gone on to lift the trophy.
  • With Dinamo finishing fourth, second and third positions are between Ajax and Lyon. Ajax are three points ahead and have a goal difference advantage of seven having drawn both games against Lyon 0-0. Therefore Lyon must win, hope Ajax lose, and overhaul their goal difference.

For our US-based readers – you can win signed Champions League gear and other prizes just by watching this week’s Champions League games, courtesy of Heineken.