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Champions League preview - Wednesday's matches

Last night Chelsea finally did themselves proud and despite a Greek tragedy for the understrength Gunners they had already qualified. So tonight the pressure is all on the northern half of the English Champions League contingent - can City and United join the Londoners in the last 16?

Group C - Basel vs Manchester United: The Reds currently stand just a slender point ahead of their Swiss rivals for this decisive fixture and need simply to avoid defeat to progress. Despite the fact that United's situation is more precarious than would have been expected and that they are missing three strikers through injury they should in all likelihood have too much big game experience to slip up in Basel. The Swiss will be no pushovers though and have the sort of firepower to spring a surprise, Frei (pictured) and Streller will be praying United's defence is as generous as it was at Old Trafford back in September during the three all draw.

The group's other game features Benfica who should comfortably clinch top spot with a win over Otelul Galati in Portugal.

Group A - Manchester City vs Bayern Munich: A mouth watering tie at the Etihad is in store, yet it could be City's last in this year's competition. Their fate is no longer in their own hands, the blues need to win plus hope that a pointless Villarreal side can finally put at least one in their tally against Napoli in the groups other game. City are at full strength for the clash against the unbeaten German leaders who have promised to treat this game in the same manner they have for all the rest, although a sickness bug has already robbed them of Kroos and Robben. The stats support City, they have never lost to foreign opposition at home in Europe and Bayern have only emerged victorious twice in 16 attempts away to English opponents.

Napoli who have impressed throughout the group stages go to Spain needing a win to secure second place and will be hoping Edinson Cavani, already a scorer of three goals against City can help put the final nail in the big spender's coffin for at least this season.

Best of the Rest - Group B - Lille vs Trabzonspor: Joe Cole's French side can complete a well timed revival with a win over the Turkish side which will see them qualify at their opponents expense. A draw would see Trabzonspor stay ahead of Lille although that could let in bottom side CSKA Moscow if they could manage an unlikely victory at already qualified Inter Milan in the other game.

Group D has been a cakewalk for Real Madrid but very complicated for second place as both Lyon and Ajax (who host Madrid tonight) have identical records against each other and could each end up with eight points, such a scenario would leave the matter to be decided by goal difference.

Phil Nicholas


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