Top spot at stake as Arsenal host PSG
supersport.com 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