Top spot at stake as Arse­nal host PSG

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

su­per­ looks at to­day’s Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion with Arse­nal ver­sus Paris Saint-Ger­main the plum tie while Barcelona, Manch­ester City and Bay­ern Mu­nich all face chal­leng­ing away games.

Group A Arse­nal (ENG) v Paris Saint-Ger­main (FRA) The Gun­ners will be out to put one over the French cham­pi­ons, whom they held 1-1 in Paris, as both strug­gle for top spot in Group A, the pair hav­ing al­ready booked pas­sage to the knock­out phase. The Lon­don­ers could look to Olivier Giroud, who res­cued a point from the bench at Old Traf­ford, to spear­head their at­tack af­ter Alexis Sanchez played through ham­string trou­ble.

As Arse­nal drew with Manch­ester United to leave them fourth in the Premier League, PSG warmed up for to­day with a fourth straight win, 2-0 over Nantes, as they chase down French lead­ers Nice. PSG’s Old Traf­ford mis­fit Angel Di Maria scored against Nantes but came off in the first half with a thigh in­jury, al­beit not one ex­pected to keep him out. Ar­gen­tine play­maker Javier Pa­s­tore is set to miss the trip to Lon­don with a knee prob­lem.

Lu­do­gorets (BUL) v Basel (SUI) Bul­gar­i­ans Lu­do­gorets and Basel have proved the makeweights in Group A with both gar­ner­ing a soli­tary point to date. A Europa League spot is the con­so­la­tion prize that awaits the side that can ce­ment third place. The two parted 1-1 in the first meet­ing in Switzer­land.

Pre­vi­ous en­coun­ters saw the Swiss win hand­somely in a two-leg play­off three years ago. Lu­do­gorets will be slight favourites, cour­tesy of home ad­van­tage, and they gave Arse­nal a brief scare in their last out­ing, but let slip a two-goal lead to suc­cumb 3-2.

Group B Napoli (ITA) v Dy­namo Kiev (UKR) Napoli might just about top the group but they are locked in a three-way strug­gle with Ben­fica and Be­sik­tas for two places in the last 16. They came from be­hind to see off Kiev in Ukraine in the re­verse fix­ture and badly need three points here. Their week­end 2-1 win at Udi­nese kept them in touch with the top four in Serie A, though pro­lific striker Arka­diusz Mi­lik is still out in­jured. Lorenzo In­signe grabbed a brace at Udi­nese and the Ital­ians will be look­ing to him and Jose Calle­jon to fire them past Dy­namo, the whip­ping boys of the group with just one point.

Be­sik­tas (TUR) v Ben­fica (POR) Ben­fica, level on points with Napoli, travel to Turkey’s still-un­beaten Be­sik­tas, who are just a point adrift of the top pair. A Ben­fica vic­tory will take the two-time cham­pi­ons, top in the Por­tuguese league, through to the knock-out phase. But they can­not af­ford to be com­pla­cent against a Be­sik­tas side which held them to a draw in Lis­bon.

The Turk­ish cham­pi­ons are look­ing to get out of the pool phase for the first time in six at­tempts and their fans are sure to give Ben­fica a hos­tile re­cep­tion.

Group C Celtic (SCO) v Barcelona (ESP) Top spot is still up for grabs in Group C as Barcelona, two points clear of Manch­ester City, travel to a Celtic side they squashed 7-0 at the Camp Nou. A win for Lionel Messi and com­pany — he is set to re­turn af­ter a sick­ness bug at the week­end — will see the Span­ish cham­pi­ons

Arse­nal play­ers dur­ing an ex­er­cise drill

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