- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On December 8, 2010
- 0 Comments
- 2010/11 UCL, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
Today is the last day of the group stages, and while a good number of teams have already secured qualification to the next phase, there are still some tasty matches on tap, and qualification spots on the line.
Bayern Munchen vs FC Basel from the Allianz Arena, Munich
Even though top spot in the group is already secured for the Bavarian giants, trainer Louis van Gaal believes they should play to win regardless because it can in some ways kick start their season and help them domestically, as it’s been a struggle. The visitors have already wrapped in Europa League qualification, but mathematically can still qualify for the knockout phase of this tournament, and former Bayern player now Basel manager Thorsten Fink intends to win this one on his former stomping ground. Nothing to play for in this one, but still one to keep an eye on.
CFR Cluj vs Roma from the Stadionul Dr Constantin Radulescu, Cluj
All the visitors need from this one is a point to confirm their passage to the next round, and that’s exactly what manager Claudio Ranieri wants from his players. Of course a little help from Bayern is all they need as well. The hosts are knocked out of Europe altogether and will only be playing for pride in this one.
Marseille vs Chelsea from the Stade Velodrome, Marseille
This group is all but wrapped up here as the hosts are guaranteed qualification in second place, while the visitors have already won the group. Still, there are some interesting footnotes in this contest with Marseille manager Didier Deschamps spent a small portion of his career in west London for Chelsea, and the blues top marksman Didier Drogba made his name in southern France for the hosts.
Zilina vs Spartak Moskva from the Stadion MSK Zilina, Zilina
Once again, nothing to play for in this one. It’s been a rough first season in this tournament for the hosts who haven’t been able to pick up a single point. Nonetheless it’s been a learning experience for the Slovakian side, and they aim to finish their European season on a winning note. The Russians on the other hand have already qualified for the Europa League no matter what the outcome of this one.
Real Madrid vs Auxerre from the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
With the hosts having secured top spot before kick off, the story line is about the visitors trying to pick third place in the group from Dutch champion Ajax and secure their place in the Europa League. Only problem is they’re playing the galaticos. Manager Jose Mourinho should look to rest some of his usual starters and put some reserves in as well as young players getting their chance to shine.
AC Milan vs Ajax from the San Siro, Milan
The big news surprising everyone this week is the resignation of Ajax coach Martin Jol who was immediately linked with the vacated Newcastle United hot seat. Milan manager Massimiano Allegri has already said he’s looking to explore his squad in this one, and Ajax were confident this weekend going into the tie until Monday. Club legend Frank de Boer will take temporary charge in this one to see if his side can continue playing in Europe in the Europa League.
Arsenal vs Partizan Belgrade from the Emirates Stadium, London
This group is where it’s at today folks with the hosts in this one all but sure to have wrapped up top spot before slipping up in recent weeks. The good news for Arsene Wenger and Arsenal is destiny is still in their own hands, and a win will secure their passage to the last 16. The visitors haven’t been able to pick up a single point in this one so it’s really Arsenal’s match to lose, as everything is in their favor going into this tie.
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sporting Braga from the Donbass Arena, Donetsk
The Ukrainian champions need just a point to secure a place in the knockout phase of the Champions League for the very first time in the club’s history. It should be a very tense affair with the visitors also in with a chance of qualifying too. Braga have a major disadvantage with goal difference as they are currently on minus four compared to Shakhtar’s plus four and Arsenal’s plus nine. A lot will have to go their way in order to qualify, but anything remains possible on a tense night in Group H.