The BIG Question: Which Premier League Sides Will Make It Through To The Champions League Knockout Stage?

Chris Wright

6th, December 2011


By Chris Wright

With precious little margin for error, Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea are all left needing specific results to fall into their lap to progress, with many online gambling companies offering fairly tempting odds on a complete, three-way Anglo-centric balls-up.

After stocking the Champions League with exactly half of it’s finalists over the course of the past seven years, there is a very real possibility that the Premier League could be left with one sole representative in this year’s tournament come tomorrow night, with Arsenal the only English club to have ensured themselves a place in the knockout phase as we wade into the last round of group games.

First up, with the two teams level on points in Group E, Chelsea will take on Valencia at Stamford Bridge later tonight knowing that a win is the only outcome that will definitely take them through, following Bayer Leverkusen’s final-minute parade/urination act the last time out.

Didier Drogba, seen here after trying to get his head around the next two paragraphs

Seeing as ‘head-to-head’ records will take precedent over goal-difference in the final standings, the other permutations are as follows:  If Leverkusen beat Genk (who are already out), a goalless draw would also be enough to see Chelsea through courtesy of Frank Lampard’s away goal in their 1-1 draw at the Mestalla back in September.

Any scoring draw would take Valencia through at the expense of Chelsea on goal difference, but if Genk (who have scored one and conceded 15 goals in five games as is) manage to beat Leverkusen, both the German side, Chelsea and Valencia could all finish on nine points if the latter two draw – which would mean that it would have to be a goalless draw to take Chelsea through due to their superior ‘head-to-head’ record against Leverkusen (2-0 home, 2-1 away).


Given all that rigmarole, it’d be better a lot easier on everybody’s frayed, misfiring synapses if AVB’s mob just managed to squeak out a win – that said, Valencia are unbeaten in their last four visits to England. Make of that what thou wilt.

This is what ‘plodding’ looks like…

On Wednesday evening, United travel to Switzerland to face FC Basel with a one-point advantage over their opponent’s in the Group C pile, thus needing only to stave off defeat on the night in order to seal themselves a spot in the knockout stages – which may not prove to be quite so straightforward, especially given that Basel gave them the run-around in the first fixture, which ended 3-3 at Old Trafford back in September.

Benfica go into the final game level on points with United at the top of the table, but the Portuguese side have a superior ‘head-to-head’ record against both Sir Alex’s side and Basel meaning they are already through. However, they can (and probably will) go through as group winners if they manage a win at the Estadio da Luz against Romanian also-rans Otelul Galati who are, quite literally, pointless.

…and this is what ‘trudging’ looks like

As for City, they look, for all intents and purposes, pretty much buggered. Roberto Mancini’s side are a point behind Napoli in Group A with a worse ‘head-to-head’ record thanks to a 2-1 defeat in the San Paolo a fortnight ago, and will square off against comfortable group winners Bayern Munich tomorrow knowing they simply must win and retain faith in Villarreal either beating or holding Napoli to a draw.The Spaniards have lost all five of their games so far.

As I say; ‘Pretty much buggered’ – though stranger things have happened at sea.

So, the question goes out: Which way do you see it going over the next two nights of European football Pies’ fans? Personally, I’ve had a little flutter on only Chelsea going through and both United and City biting the big one – chiefly because Gab Marcotti told me to in his hushed Italian-American tones after the Chelsea/Leverkusen game. In Gab I trust!

And you?

Posted in Champions League, Chelsea, Featured, Man City, Man Utd, Opinion

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  1. Archbishop Betty Snagcock says:

    u met marcotti? lucky bugger

    i’m gonna put a fiver on all 3 goin through

  2. MaxMad says:

    Can’t see United going through, they’ve been quite shit anyway. Seeing as City are pretty much in a pickle, it’s going to be tough to call, though I’d be willing to bet they can pull it off and go through. Chelsea? I don’t really care for them, so they can do what they want.

  3. Harsh says:

    United to go through easily, Chelsea too if they dont partner luiz alongside Terry and City to get the boot. And since i’m a United fan, City to lose 6-1.

  4. Manolo Garnix says:

    man utd and chelsea going through, man city out.

  5. Anonymous says:

    When will ye learn. Even if united don’t play well they will get the result. Waste of your money. You should know better than to listen to an american about football even if he is only half.

  6. Steve K says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t a 0-0 be good enough for Chelsea if Bayer Leverkusen lose?
    Chelsea won 2-0 against them, then lost 2-1 away, so we’d have the superior record between the two. We’d be equal on points with Bayer Leverkusen, but with better goal difference and a better head-to-head.

    Just trying to work out how panicked I should be at the game tonight. This is all irrelevant, if Leverkusen need a result, they’ll get it against Genk, they’re bloody useless!

  7. Svenster says:

    Gabrielle Marcotti is the same guy who said “running the score up” is unnecessary unless its versus a rival but yet is a huge Barcelona fan. A team that regularly runs the scores up on everyone they play.

  8. Svenster says:

    Also as everyone else is saying United will squeak through on account of some “shady” penalty call in Fergie tim…..I mean in added time. They will then draw Apoel in the next round and will avoid the big 2 Spanish teams until in the final where they will rightfully lose….again.

  9. Chris says:

    @Steve K: You’re quite right. A 0-0 draw will put Chelsea through whatever happens in the Leverkusen vs Genk match.

  10. Titus says:

    United will definitely go through! Why? Because that’s just how things ALWAYS seem to work out for them in these sort of situations. Whether it’s the Premier League, Champs League or whatever, whenever they are written off, the universe intervenes and somehow all the results end up going their way and are right there competitive at the end. As for Chelsea, they are probably going to go through but I think this is the biggest wild card of the three Premier League teams. Man City will be playing Europa League football and they won’t be in that competition too long either

  11. Davy says:

    Man U & Chelsea will go through, but I doubt Man City can make it….They’ll probably win their game but it’ll make no odds as Villareal will get beat

  12. e212 says:

    whoever is naive enough to think united will fail to qualify is…well…quite naive. chelsea will definitely go through as well. and as for shitty, well lets just say shitty can go suck a bible.
    bayern have played small(er) clubs before and even if the game carried no importance, they never let the opposition take it. german mentality!

  13. Jimbo says:

    Chelsea through, United through, scum out

  14. dave says:

    @Svenster: Okaaayy, what does that have to do with anything in this article, apart from the fact that it mentions Marcotti? I don’t see how his opinion on running up the score relates to his insights into who’s going to make it through the group stages.

  15. Redskywalker says:

    Im going for Arsenal.

  16. Jonas says:

    Kinda eating your words eh 3212

  17. Andy Carroll's Ponytail says:

    I’m typing this on Thursday morning and I want to know: who’s Gab Marcotti and is he involved at any levels with the bookies???

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