Chelsea aim at qualification
19 November 2012
PARIS/MADRID/MILAN, 19 NOV: Holders Chelsea and Scottish champions Celtic can seal their places in the last 16 of the Champions League on Tuesday but they will have to do it the hard way by winning away from home.
Chelsea's task looks harder as they travel to Serie A leaders Juventus but Celtic's away form in the Champions League is woeful so they will have to repeat their outstanding performance in the home win over Barcelona against a talented Benfica side.
Bayern Munich, the side that Chelsea beat on penalties in last season's final, also have a tricky trip to Spanish side Valencia, in a rematch of the 2001 final which the Germans won in a penalty shootout. Bayern and Valencia are locked on nine points apiece, but with Belarus side BATE Borisov breathing down their necks on six points and all but guaranteed three points when they host pointless and hapless French side Lille neither can afford a slip-up.
A win for either Valencia or Bayern would see the victor join the one side playing on Tuesday already assured of a place in the Last 16, Manchester United, who are also certain to top their group. Chelsea have made hard work of their group, with a fortunate last minute win over the highly-talented Shakhtar Donetsk last time out setting them up nicely for the trip to Turin.
However, they come into it in the worst possible fashion having been beaten by West Brom, managed by former Chelsea coach Steve Clarke, on Saturday and having taken just two points from their last 12 in the Premier League.
Valencia coach Mauricio Pellegrino, who will be relying on in-form striker Roberto Soldado to test the Bayern defence, summed up what the match meant to him. "The match here against Bayern will be a final." Manchester City has been on the cusp of elimination for a month now and the fate of the English champions will be sealed if they fail to beat Real Madrid at home Wednesday.
A win for Madrid would likely take it through, although Jose Mourinho's side is also stumbling after picking up just one point from its double-header with silky German side Borussia Dortmund.
Dortmund is the group leader and needs only a point at Ajax to advance. AC Milan needs a win in Anderlecht on Wednesday if the struggling Italian side isn't to face the serious prospect of elimination from Group C, while the winner of Tuesday's match between Valencia and last season's runner-up Bayern Munich will qualify in Group F.
Paris Saint-Germain requires just a point at Dynamo Kiev to join FC Porto in the next round from Group A, while Schalke and Arsenal will qualify from Group B if they beat Olympiakos and Montpellier, respectively.
Cagliari turned on the style to hold Inter Milan to a 2-2 draw at the San Siro as Fiorentina hammered 10-man Atalanta 4-1 at home to take over third place from Napoli. After leaders Juventus were held to a scoreless draw at home to Lazio on Saturday Inter had a chance to close the gap on the Serie A champions but failed to reduce the gap on the leaders. agencies