The final round of Champions League group fixtures offers a host of clubs the opportunity to make it through to the knockout phase of the 2010-2011 competition whilst other sides will be anxious to secure a Europa League spot writes Ger McCarthy.
Bayern Munich host FC Basel with the German side already assured top spot in Group E heading into Wednesday night’s fixtures. Basel can still snatch the groups’ runner-up spot however but need to defeat Bayern and hope the current second placed team Roma lose away at CFR Cluj in Romania. Bayern Munich will be hoping to put their domestic Bundesliga woes behind them when Basel visit the Munich Arena and a repeat of the 2-1 victory over the Swiss outfit from Matchday 2 would see Louis Van Gaal’s team finish on 15 points from a possible 18.
Claudio Ranieri’s Roma just need to avoid defeat at CFR Cluj to secure second spot in Group E. The Serie A side defeated Cluj 2-1 on Matchday 2 and will hope for a typical Italian defensive performance to see them through to the next phase.
Bayern Munich will prove too strong for a spirited Basel and record a third home Group E victory to progress to the knockout phase while Roma should have enough experience to get a point in Romania at the expense of CFR Cluj.
Bayern to top Group E and Roma will also go through in the runners-up spot.
Chelsea have already secured top spot in Group F following five consecutive victories and Carlo Ancellotti’s team will be looking to complete a perfect first phase in this season’s Champions League with an away win over Marseille at the Stade Velodrome on Matchday 6. The Londoners are struggling in the Premier League at the moment and with Marseille having already secured second spot in Group F an upset could be on the cards. Chelsea recorded a hard fought 2-0 win over the former European Cup winners on Matchday 2 and Ancellotti may well use the occasion to blood some new young talent.
MSK Zilina go in search of their first Champions League point at home to a Spartak Moscow side that has already secured a Europa League spot by finishing third in Group F. Spartak won3-0 the last time the two sides met and a similar result is expected on Wednesday evening.
Marseille will inflict a first Champions League defeat on Chelsea in the Stade Velodrome while Spartak Moscow will bow out of this season’s tournament with an away victory over MSK Zilina in Slovakia.
Chelsea have already secured top spot in Group F with Marseille already assured of accompanying the Premier League side into the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Both former European Cup winners Real Madrid and AC Milan have already secured passage to the knockout phase of this season’s Champions League. Jose Mourinho will have the luxury of putting out a Madrid side that has already finished top of Group G when Auxerre visit the Santiago Bernabeau on Matchday 6. The French side are chasing a Europa League qualification berth and need to overtake Ajax who are a point ahead in the standings heading into the final round of Group F fixtures. Auxerre pushed Real all the way on Matchday 2 before the Spanish giants eventually won 1-0 in the Stade Abbe-Deschamps on September 28th.
Ajax are in the San Siro on Matchday 6 to take on an AC Milan side riding high in Serie A and already into the last 16 of this season’s Champions League. The Amsterdam club lost the services of manager Martin Jol (rumoured to be on his way to Newcastle) on Sunday but are a point ahead of Auxerre and in pole position to grab the Europa League qualification spot.
Real Madrid will complete an impressive opening phase in this season’s Champions League by defeating Auxerre to finish top of Group G on 16 points. AC Milan will continue their recent run of good form by defeating manager-less Ajax in the San Siro.
Real Madrid have already secured top spot in Group G with AC Milan certain of second spot and qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Group H remains the most intriguing of groups with three sides still fighting it out for the top two places and a berth in the knockout phase of this season’s tournament. Ukrainian club Shaktar Donetsk only need a point at home to Braga to secure passage to the knockout stages for the first time ever. The Portuguese side are only three points behind Shaktar heading into Matchday 6 and an away victory would see Braga draw level with the Ukrainians on 12 points.
The Emirates Stadium is the venue for Arsenal’s final Group H encounter with Partizan Belgrade the visitors on Wednesday evening. A shock 2-0 defeat to Braga on Matchday 5 leaves Arsene Wenger’s side requiring a victory to move onto 12 points alongside Shaktar Donetsk. Arsenal won both previous two home group games 6-0 and 5-1 and with Partizan yet to register a point in this season’s competition anything other than a home win would constitute a major shock.
Shaktar Donetsk to get the point they require at home to Braga and qualify for the knockout phase of the competition. Arsenal will join Donetsk in the next phase when the Gunners register a huge home win at the expense of the pointless Partizan.
Shaktar will secured top spot in Group H with Arsenal finishing second and squeeze into the knockout stages of the Champions League.
Ger McCarthy is author of the book entitled ‘Off Centre Circle’ about a lifetime spent playing amateur football in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.