English trio take aim in UCL

Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea will be looking to complete a Premier League quartet in the Champions League knock-out stage this week.

England’s teams are among several who could clinch progress on matchday five of the group stage – while several sides could find themselves already out.

Premier League side Manchester City are already assured a place, alongside defending champions Bayern Munich, and the Spanish duo Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, but several teams are on a knife edge for the penultimate group games.

They include last season’s losing finalists Borussia Dortmund, who take on Serie A side Napoli Tuesday knowing if they fail to win and Arsenal beat Marseille their Champions League campaign will end at the group stage.

Napoli top Group F on nine points next to Arsenal and need a point in Dortmund to secure progress. The Gunners meanwhile can move to 12 points but still not be sure of progress if Dortmund win.

Both Napoli and Dortmund crashed at home at the weekend – Borussia losing 3-0 to Bayern Munich while Parma edged Napoli 1-0 – but the Italian team’s coach Rafael Benitez said: “I am not worried, this is football. I only know that we want, can and must play better.”

Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla meanwhile warned his teammates not to take Marseille lightly, despite the French side’s failure to win a point so far.

“It may be tough and if we’re not careful we might slip and then we might not be able to get through to the next round. We need to understand that it’s a vital match,” he told Arsenal’s official website.

Chelsea travel to Basle in Group E Tuesday, looking for revenge for their defeat at home to the Swiss side.

Jose Mourinho is waiting on the fitness of striker Fernando Torres, knowing victory will put them through to the next stage. Germany’s Schalke would then also progress providing they win at Steaua Bucharest.

Manchester United hope to have striker Robin van Persie back fit for the visit to Bayer Leverkusen and are looking to bounce back from a disappointing draw with lowly Cardiff in the league Sunday.

A win in the Group A game Wednesday will secure progress – and also first place if Shakhtar Donetsk fail to win at home to Real Sociedad. Leverkusen meanwhile also know that a victory would put them through.

Real Madrid greet Galatasaray in Group B Wednesday, needing a draw to guarantee top spot, but could be without Cristiano Ronaldo, who limped out of Saturday’s 5-0 defeat of Almeria with a pulled thigh muscle.

Italian champions Juventus remain confident of qualifying despite sitting bottom of the group ahead of a home game against Copenhagen.

Keeper Gianluigi Buffon, who celebrated his 500th Serie A game as Juve went top ahead of Roma, said: “We are expressing ourselves very well and this is an excellent signal for the Champions League.”

Injury-hit Barcelona need a point at Ajax to finish top of Group H after already clinching progress, while AC Milan are at Celtic seeking a win to put them through.

Bayern Munich and Manchester City will likely rest players after securing qualification from Group D, with Bayern at CSKA Moscow and City greeting Viktoria Plzen.

Goalkeeper Joe Hart will start in goal for City after losing his place in the league side. Bayern meanwhile can set a Champions League record of 10 successive wins if they prevail in Moscow.

Atletico Madrid – who have maximum points and are the only confirmed group winners – visit Zenit St Petersburg, while Porto take on visiting bottom side Austria Vienna in Group G.

The battle for Group C could be decided, with Paris Saint-Germain needing to draw at home to Olympiakos to qualify as group winners. A draw could also be enough for the Greek champions if Benfica fail to win at Anderlecht.

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