- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On December 7, 2010
- 0 Comments
- 2010/11 UCL, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
We’re into our final day of the group stages this season, and for the most part there’s not a heck of a lot to play for apart from seeing which sides will win their groups and who will finish runner up. The winners will be seeded teams when the draw takes place for the last 16.
FC Twente vs Tottenham from the FC Twente Stadion, Enschede
Look for both sides to ring the changes and rotate their squads in this one. With the home side having already locked up third place in the group, it sends them to the Europa League knockout stages in the new year. For Spurs, manager Harry Redknapp has said he might make one or two changes, and with a busy Christmas schedule coming up domestically, he wants to utilize the size of his squad. The north London side have a chance of winning this group if results go their way.
Werder Bremen vs Inter Milan from the Weserstadion, Bremen
With the home side completely knocked out of Europe altogether, and Bremen manager Thomas Schaaf can sugarcoat it all he wants to about how this match is important for his team, but the fact remains it’s no more then a training exercise. Inter on the other hand are looking to finish top of the group, and manager Rafa Benitez knows from previous seasons that finishing top can have an advantage in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Lyon vs H. Tel Aviv from the Stade de Gerland, Lyon
Just like Group A, this group already has it’s two clubs going through to the last 16, and third place is pretty much decided although the Israeli champions can still mathematically can qualify for the Europa League. All their is to play for is who will finish first and second. Currently Lyon sit in second and a point behind Schalke in top spot. Even though the Israeli side beat Benfica 3-0, this should be Lyon’s match to lose, and should be favored to take first place in the group.
Benfica vs Schalke from the Estadio do Sport Lisboa Benfica, Lisbon
The home side want to win this encounter so they safely book their place in the Europa League, and have decent home form in all competitions. Schalke on the other hand want to stay top, so it really depends on what happens in the other game. Manager Felix Magath has said that Schalke will play as if they need to win because they don’t want to experience any surprises.
Manchester United vs Valencia from Old Trafford, Manchester
Sir Alex Ferguson knows finishing top of the group is very important for his team to avoid some of the big hitters in February, and the question will be are his squad rusty after not having a match for 10 days? Their match against Blackpool was postponed due to a frozen pitch. The visitors will also look to finish top, and currently sit three points behind the hosts, but with a superior goal difference. Even though both sides have already qualified for the next phase, this should be one of the more entertaining matches to watch.
Bursaspor vs Rangers from the Bursa Ataturk, Bursa
This is another contest that really does not have any baring on what happens in the group. With the top two already through, Rangers have secured their Europa League place, and again like other fixtures today the managers are saying the usual ‘this is an important fixture’ but in all reality it’s not one for neutrals to keep an eye on.
Barcelona vs Rubin Kazan from the Camp Nou, Barcelona
This group is the one to really keep an eye on today, as the Catalan hosts are already through as group winners, second place is still up for grabs. What should make it interesting is Pep Guardiola will be resting a lot of his stars and give some youngsters a chance. The corresponding fixture last season was one to forget for the hosts, as Rubin came away with a 2-1 win a year ago, and the Russian club will be looking to repeat that fate if they are to stand a chance of pinching second place in the group.
Kobenhavn vs Panathinaikos from the Parken Stadion, Copenhagen
The Danish champions are the current occupants of second in the group, and all they have to do is win at home against the Greeks. If they can achieve this, it will be historic as the club have never made the knockout phase. They really have been the surprise package this season so far, and have played some great football along the way. The visitors are also a surprise as they were expected to challenge for a place in the top two of the group, but are now out of Europe completely. Group D is where it’s at today folks.