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Day of reckoning for giant European clubs

Last updated on: December 7, 2009 18:57 IST

Day of reckoning for big clubs

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Juventus and Bayern Munich square off in a Champions League match on Tuesday which will end with one of the illustrious pair suffering the same fate as Liverpool and making an early exit from the tournament.

The final week of the group stage will also be a nervy one for Italian pair AC Milan and their arch-rivals Inter, who are both far from certain of making the knockout stages.

Real Madrid and holders Barcelona are in a more comfortable position as it would take an unlikely combination of results to eliminate either one.


Image: Inter Milan's coach Jose Mourinho (right) and Wesley Sneijder
Photographs: Reuters
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Arsenal, Man Utd, Porto assured place in last sixteen

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Five-times champions Liverpool have already been eliminated after a miserable campaign in Group F and are one of nine teams who go into the final week with no hope of progressing.

On the other hand, eight sides - Girondins Bordeaux, Olympique Lyon, Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal, Porto, Fiorentina and Sevilla - have already made sure of their places in the last sixteen.


Image: Porto players celebrate

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Juventus odds-on favourites to progress

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French champions Bordeaux took one of the places in Group A, leaving twice former champions Juventus and four-times winners Bayern to scrap for the other spot.

The odds seem stacked against Louis van Gaal's Bayern, with Juventus enjoying home advantage and needing only a draw.

The Italians are also unbeaten in their last 16 home games in the Champions League, have won their last four home games against German teams - two of them against Bayern - and have lost only three of 22 home matches against German clubs in total.


Image: Juventus's Amauri celebrates

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Fit-again Robben returns for Bayern

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Bayern should be boosted by the return to fitness of Dutch midfielder Arjen Robben, who will add much needed pace and control in midfield especially in the absence of injured playmaker Franck Ribery.

"It is an important match and I would like to play from the start," Robben said. "I do not know how long I can play. Maybe 60-70 minutes. but possibly also 90 minutes."

Juventus coach Ciro Ferrara said: "Tuesday is a match of extraordinary importance and Juve have shown we are ready for big games."


Image: Bayern Munich's Mario Gomez (left) and Miroslav Klose celebrate

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Open chance for all four teams in Group F

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Group F, featuring Barcelona and Inter Milan, is the most evenly balanced and the only one where all four teams still have a chance, although it would take an unlikely combination of results to remove Pep Guardiola's team.

Barcelona, who lead with eight points, visit Dynamo Kiev, who are on five, while Inter Milan and Rubin Kazan, who have six points each, meet at the San Siro.


Image: Barcelona's Thierry Henry (centre) with team-mates

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Madrid face daunting task at Marseille

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Group C leaders Real Madrid need to avoid a three-goal defeat at Olympique Marseille to progress, however second-place AC Milan must win away to Swiss champions FC Zurich to make sure without depending on the other result.

Leonardo's team have won both their Champions League away games this season and are unbeaten in their last nine away in Europe, however they lost at home to Zurich earlier in the group.


Image: Real Madrid's Kaka

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Wolfsburg have chance at qualifying for next round

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German champions VfL Wolfsburg host Manchester United in Group B and will qualify provided CSKA Moscow do not get a better result than the Bundesliga side in their visit to eliminated Besiktas.

VfB Stuttgart, the third German team, can pip Unirea Urziceni for the second spot in Group G if they beat the Romanians at home, otherwise their opponents will follow Sevilla through.

Despite the importance of the game, Stuttgart sacked coach Markus Babbel on Sunday, a day after a 1-1 draw against VfL Bochum left them in 16th place in the Bundesliga.

He was immediately replaced by Christian Gross.


Image: Manchester United's Michael Owen

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Olympiakos need draw to advance

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Zico's Olympiakos need a point at home to Arsenal on Wednesday to follow the Premier League side through from Group H.

If they slip up, Standard Liege will go through in their place with a home win against AZ Alkmaar.


Image: Arsenal's Samir Nasri (centre) celebrates with Robin Van Persie (left) and Emmanuel Eboue

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