All to play for in big Cham­pi­ons League

The Pak Banker - - Front Page -


Hold­ers Chelsea need to show the re­silience that brought them suc­cess last sea­son, rather than the re­cent fail­ings they have shown in the Premier League, if they want to reach the last 16 of the Cham­pi­ons League this week.

With two matches to play for­mer cham­pi­ons Manch­ester United and Porto and im­pres­sive new­com­ers Malaga are the only teams math­e­mat­i­cally cer­tain of qual­i­fy­ing, al­though the make up of the first knock­out round will be­come clearer this week.

UEFA use a com­pli­cated head-to-head and mini-league tiebreak sys­tem to work out the fi­nal rank­ings in­stead of goal dif­fer­ence, mean­ing uncer­tain­ties about who qual­i­fies can last un­til the fi­nal kick of the fi­nal match.

But in re­al­ity, Ar­se­nal, Barcelona, Bay­ern Mu­nich, Celtic, Borus­sia Dort­mund, AC Mi­lan, Paris St Ger­main, Real Madrid, Schalke 04, Shakhtar Donetsk and Va­len­cia can all ad­vance this week if re­sults go their way.

Chelsea will also go through on Tues­day if they win their Group E match against Ju­ven­tus in Turin, seal­ing their place in the last 16 for a 10th suc­ces­sive sea­son.

But Roberto Di Mat­teo's men travel with­out a win in their last four Premier League games and reel­ing from a sur­prise 2-1 de­feat at West Bromwich Al­bion on Satur­day when de­fen­sive lapses cost them the points.

"For some un­known rea­son Novem­ber seems to be a bad month for this club," the Ital­ian told re­porters.

No Euro­pean cham­pion has failed to get through a group stage since the Cham­pi­ons League be­gan but if Chelsea lose in Turin they will be in dan­ger of be­com­ing the first to do so.

Chelsea's most im­por­tant vic­tory in re­cent weeks came two weeks ago when they beat Shakhtar 3-2 at Stam­ford Bridge with a last-gasp header from Vic­tor Moses seal­ing the points and mak­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion more likely.

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