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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

S

terling needs to be told though that upon entering the Arsenal squad he will re-enact the final scene from Highlander where he will be thrown around a warehouse by cartoon dragons and then be a mere mortal that will only ever spend three to four weeks a season playing football and the rest on the physio's bed. There can be only one.....player available at The Emirates.

rodger's gusset
Arsenal interest in Sterling

T

he game changed in our favour when Carrick came on. We were able to play further up the pitch due to having a player who can give and go with the ball and keep possession. Yet barkley made some runs and Townsend scored a good goal but carrick's inclusion and chiellini's withdrawal made the biggest difference to the flow of the game

ricky villa
Hodgson: Barkley was brilliant

N

o, you've not silenced anyone Andros, i'm afraid. We know you can score a great goal, and it's really handy to have your direct running and willingness to shoot on the bench. But until you can do the other things expected of a winger (beat the man, put a decent cross in, stay wide etc) then you can't expect more than a regular cameo. Wonderful goal though, what a hit! No wonder Buffon wanted the shirt.

badwolf
Townsend: I've silenced critics

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