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Opportunity knocks as group stage nears climax

Friday 16 November 2012 16.36 CET
Group B, featuring Arsenal and Schalke, is one of the tightest sections

The UEFA Champions League group stage enters the home straight next week, with FC Porto, Málaga CF and Manchester United FC the only teams through to the knockout phase ahead of matchday five. UEFA.com summarises the state of play.

Tuesday
Group E (FC Nordsjælland v FC Shakhtar Donetsk; Juventus v Chelsea FC)

• Nordsjælland are without a victory in ten European games, losing eight; their last win was 2-1 at home to Queen of the South FC in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup second qualifying round.

• Chelsea have won only once in eight visits to Italy, a 4-0 group stage success at S.S. Lazio in 2003/04 in which Frank Lampard got the final goal. The other seven matches have resulted in four defeats and three draws.

• The holders will qualify if they prevail in Turin. Should Shakhtar triumph and the other game ends all square, then the battle for the top two positions will go down to matchday six. Nordsjælland must win both their remaining fixtures to have any chance of European football in the spring.

Group F (FC BATE Borisov v LOSC Lille; Valencia CF v FC Bayern München)

• BATE finally recorded their first UEFA Champions League group stage victory at the 13th attempt when they defeated LOSC 3-1 on 19 September.

• The clubs' matchday one contest was the first between Bayern and Valencia since the 2001 final in Milan, which the former won 5-4 on penalties.

• Bayern or Valencia will qualify if they claim maximum points and BATE fail to beat LOSC, who must win by a greater margin than 3-1 to have any hope of overtaking the Belarusian team for third place.

Group G (FC Spartak Moskva v FC Barcelona; SL Benfica v Celtic FC)

• Víctor Valdés, Carles Puyol and Xavi Hernández were in the Barcelona side that triumphed 3-1 at FC Lokomotiv Moskva in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League first group stage – the Azulgrana's only victory from six trips to Russia.

• Celtic defeated FC Internazionale Milano 2-1 at Lisbon's Estádio Nacional in 1967 to become Britain's first European Cup winners.

• With a three-point lead over Benfica, Celtic will rubber-stamp their progress with a victory. A score draw will also suffice if Spartak do not overcome pacesetters Barcelona.

Group H (Galatasaray AŞ v Manchester United FC; CFR 1907 Cluj v SC Braga)

• Galatasaray's last home encounter with Premier League opposition brought a 3-2 success over Liverpool FC in 2006/07.

• Braga have never visited Romania before but will face a familiar rival in CFR's Portuguese trainer Paulo Sérgio, who has coached in the Liga with FC Paços de Ferreira, Vitória SC and Sporting Clube de Portugal.

• A victory for CFR or Braga could put them second, depending on the result between Galatasaray and group winners United. A defeat would end Braga's ambitions – and could potentially do the same for CFR.

Wednesday
Group A (FC Porto v GNK Dinamo Zagreb; FC Dynamo Kyiv v Paris Saint-Germain FC)

• Porto have won seven of their last ten European home games, losing only to Manchester City FC (1-2) in last season's UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg. They began the section with a 2-0 triumph in Zagreb.

• Dynamo and PSG last met in Ukraine in a UEFA Cup quarter-final second leg on 16 April 2009, when the former prevailed 3-0 with Ognjen Vukojević scoring the third. The White-Blues had a rude awakening to Group A, losing 4-1 at PSG on matchday one.

• Porto will wrap up the group if they win and PSG lose, while the French side can join the Dragons in the last 16 by avoiding defeat in Kyiv. Dynamo will be sure of at least a UEFA Europa League berth if they match Dinamo Zagreb's result.

Group B (Arsenal FC v Montpellier Hérault SC; FC Schalke 04 v Olympiacos FC)

• Montpellier had faced just one English team before this campaign. That came in the 1990/91 European Cup Winners' Cup quarter-final when they earned a 1-1 first-leg draw at Manchester United but went down 2-0 at home.

• This is the second successive season in which Olympiacos have met German opposition in the group stage. Twelve months ago they lost 1-0 to Borussia Dortmund, their fourth defeat in their five visits to Bundesliga clubs; they have failed to score in all those reverses.

• Schalke and Arsenal will both qualify with victories on matchday five. The best Montpellier can aim for is third place, and to have a chance of securing that they need to win both their remaining games.

Group C (FC Zenit St Petersburg v Málaga CF; RSC Anderlecht v AC Milan)

• Málaga have suffered only one defeat in 11 away matches in UEFA competition. They won five and lost just one of eight away fixtures in their sole previous European campaign – encompassing the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup and 2002/03 UEFA Cup – and this term have prevailed at Anderlecht while drawing at both Panathinaikos FC, in the play-offs, and Milan.

• Anderlecht would leapfrog Milan into second spot should they beat Massimiliano Allegri's men – a result that would take them tantalisingly close to a first appearance in the last 16 since 2000/01.

• Málaga, whose 1-1 draw at Milan last time out clinched qualification, require a single point to win the pool. Bottom-of-the pile Zenit need a victory. Should they fail to get one, they would be eliminated if the Rossoneri overcome Anderlecht, who would then be consigned to third position at best.

Group D (AFC Ajax v Borussia Dortmund; Manchester City FC v Real Madrid CF)

• Ajax have posted 12 wins in 13 home games against Bundesliga sides and will hope for a lucky 13th against a Dortmund team who beat them 1-0 on matchday one.

• After fighting back to draw with Dortmund and Ajax, City are unbeaten in 19 European home matches since a 1-0 loss to FC Midtjylland in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup second qualifying round.

• City must prevail to avoid a second successive group stage elimination. A draw would take second-placed Madrid through, providing that Dortmund, who require a point to advance, triumph at the Amsterdam ArenA.

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