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Champions League preview

Round five of the Champions League group stages is upon us this week - with some crucial games for the English clubs.

All four English sides could qualify for the knockout stages ahead of schedule.

Tonight, the Manchester clubs take centre stage and both will be hoping to transfer their Premier League form to the European stage.

Group A – Napoli vs Manchester City:

City’s D-Day has arrived. After a poor start to their campaign, two wins over Villarreal have lifted the Blues to second place in Group A - with their destiny back in their own hands.

However, to progress they realistically must avoid defeat at the Stadio San Paulo against tough opposition and a strike force that Roberto Mancini has more than a passing interest in if you believe the transfer rumours.

Both sides are injury free for this encounter and a win for City will see them qualify.

The other game sees top of the table Bayern Munich host pointless and luckless Villarreal. Bayern will qualify in top spot of they win and City don’t.

Group C – Manchester United vs Benfica:

A famous fixture in European Cup history for the Reds, who will progress should they emerge victorious at Old Trafford.

United currently sit joint top of the group, level on points with the Portuguese outfit - who will fancy their chances of qualification if they can avoid defeat.

Wayne Rooney will play despite missing training on Monday, while Benfica are more or less at full strength for this one.

Elsewhere, Swiss side Basel travel to rock bottom Otelul Galati - a win there could see them still in with a chance of the last 16 with United due in Basel for the final group game in a fortnight.

Best of the rest:

Lyon take on Ajax in Group D and the French side face a make or break task if they are to stand any chance of clinching their usual last 16 spot.

Lyon currently sit three points behind their Dutch rivals in third place amd must win in order to put Ajax under pressure for their final group match in Amsterdam against runaway leaders Real Madrid.

Mourinho’s men should comfortably overcome Dinamo Zagreb at the Bernabeu and clinch top spot in the group’s other game.

Group B is a close affair but 2010 winners Inter Milan will clinch a knock out spot with at least at point at Trabszonspor.

CSKA Moscow will take a big step towards qualification as well if they can overcome Lille in Russia.

Coming soon:

Look out for a preview of Wednesday night’s Champions League games, featuring Chelsea and Arsenal, plus AC Milan vs Barcelona.

By Phil Nicholas



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