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Chelsea and Celtic will be hoping to join Manchester United in qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday night.

Last Updated: 05/12/12 at 19:12

Rafa Benitez: Hoping Chelsea can avoid becoming first holders to go out in group

Rafa Benitez: Hoping Chelsea can avoid becoming first holders to go out in group

Chelsea and Celtic looking to progress to last 16

Chelsea and Celtic will be hoping to join Manchester United in qualifying for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on what promises to be a gripping night of European action.

It has been a mixed campaign so far for the British sides, with Manchester City crashing out at the group stage without a victory and Arsenal making it through as runners-up in their pool.

United have already guaranteed their progression so all eyes will be on Celtic and Chelsea on Wednesday night, although both teams need favours from elsewhere.

It has been suggested that Rafa Benitez will never win over the Chelsea supporters following his recent appointment as manager, but he could improve his popularity by keeping their defence of the Champions League trophy alive.

The Blues need to beat Group E minnows Nordsjaelland at Stamford Bridge to stand any chance, but they will also be tracking the other match with interest as they are two points adrift of second-placed Juventus.

Chelsea have an inferior head-to-head record against both the teams above them so they need already-qualified Shakhtar Donetsk to beat Juventus, with the Ukrainians currently one point clear and looking to tie up top spot.

It has been a memorable season for Celtic already in Europe and Neil Lennon's men now have a chance to reach the knockout stages ahead of their home game against Spartak Moscow, who are already consigned to bottom spot in Group G.

Celtic are level on points with Benfica in the battle for second place and have come off second best in their meetings with the Portuguese side so need a better result in Wednesday's final round of matches, but the good news is that Benfica travel to Camp Nou to face Barcelona.

There will be no such tension for Manchester United fans as they have already clinched first place in Group H, so Sir Alex Ferguson may decide to blood some younger players against CFR Cluj and rest a few senior men with Sunday's derby in mind.

Romanian side Cluj must ensure they earn a better result than Galatasaray to qualify for the last 16, with the Turkish champions travelling to bottom club Braga.

Top spot is on the line in Group F and Bayern Munich know they will finish first if they claim a home win over BATE Borisov, who will switch across to the Europa League after Christmas.

If Bayern slip up, then Valencia will be looking to pounce by beating Lille in France in the group's other game.

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Readers' Comments

I

think all those names linked to United exits make sense. Kagawa has never really looked like hitting the form he had at Dortmund and Fellaini is radioactive after last season (even though I think he's been unfairly singled out for criticism). Nani and Anderson have had more than their fair share of chances so they are done, and Hernandez deserves better than warming a bench.

ted, manchester
The Insecure Gossip

H

e'll be off to Spurs (or better) in January and I don't blame him. Looking forward to re-signing Grant Holt as his replacement though.

notalentjones
Benteke ignoring speculation

I

n fairness, he does look absolutely shattered in that photo.....

FairyNuff
Shaw told to shape up

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