Champions League preview

04 November 2009 10:21
// A bit of a hack but it works// The article snippet is wrapped onto a second line, even when #article-sub is emptyif( $("div#article-sub").children().length == 0 ) {$("div#article-sub").remove();} Liverpool and Rangers are drinking in the last-chance saloon while Arsenal are hoping to toast their progress into the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League.

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Liverpool and manager Rafa Benitez are staring into the abyss ahead of their clash with Group E leaders Lyon in France, where defeat would leave the 2005 champions facing almost certain elimination from Europe.

With the Reds having lost six of their last seven games, Benitez's future is coming under ever-increasing scrutiny and the Spaniard can ill-afford to see their Champions League bid evaporate in the same manner as their Premier League title tilt.

Claude Puel's side snatched a last-gasp 2-1 success over Liverpool at Anfield and knows a point on Wednesday night would be enough to seal their place in the last 16 of the competition.

Second-placed Fiorentina, who already hold a three-point cushion over Liverpool, are at home to pointless Hungarian outfit Debrecen, which makes Benitez's need for victory even more acute.

PassageArsenal will be hoping to join Manchester United and Chelsea in the knockout stages when they host AZ Alkmaar at Emirates Stadium, where victory would put them on course to book their passage from Group H.

It would take an utterly improbable series of results to deny the Gunners if they do take all three points, and their progress will be assured if Standard Liege fail to defeat second-placed Olympiakos in Belgium in the group's other game.

Wenger's men were only denied victory against Ronald Koeman's side by a last-gasp leveller two weeks ago and will be determined to make amends for that slip when the former PSV Eindhoven boss brings his team to North London.

Rangers tackle Unirea Urziceni in Romania knowing defeat would end their Champions League hopes for another season in the wake of two miserable defeats on home turf.

Walter Smith's side suffered humbling 4-1 hammerings at the hands of Sevilla and then Dan Petrescu's European newcomers to leave them languishing at the foot of Group G.

ScrambleAll-conquering Sevilla already have one foot in the knockout stage of the tournament and will be aiming to extend their 100 per cent record to be assured of reaching the last 16 when Stuttgart travel to Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan.

The scramble to qualify from Group F looks destined to go right down to the wire with just one point separating the four clubs going into their final two fixtures.

European champions Barcelona kick-off proceedings with their away date against Rubin Kazan having suffered a shock Camp Nou defeat at the hands of the Russian outfit which blew the qualification battle wide open.

Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan, who have not won in the Champions League for over a year, must drop their reputation as draw specialists when they face Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine where the former Chelsea boss will once again be up against ex-Blues striker Andriy Shevchenko

Source: SKY_Sports