State of Play for Arsenal, Napoli and Dortmund

State of Play for Arsenal, Napoli and Dortmund

State of Play for Arsenal, Napoli and Dortmund

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The fight for the Big Ears trophy gets very interesting on the penultimate round of the Champions League group stages. Group F, the Group of Death. Things could get clearer tonight, or very, very twisted.

 Arsenal, SSC Napoli and Borussia Dortmund are only separated by three points and have, thus, ensured the group lives up to its billing. Forget Olympique de Marseille, the points the Les Phocèens have collected so far are between zero and nil.

 The Gunners victory at the Westfalenstadion, three weeks ago, though not an orchestra performance, was enough to overwhelm Jurgen Klopp’s heavy metal and make Arsene Wenger’s side favorites to qualify. Having said that, if results go according to the wicked plan we’ve been served, no team is yet guaranteed of qualification.

 Picture this. Dortmund, on the back of a three-match losing streak, are playing host to Rafael Benitez’s Societa Sportiva Calcio Napoli, who are, themselves, seeking a result to better their back-to-back Serie A defeats.

 A win over the Italians will take the Black and Yellows to 9 points, anything less virtually seals Europa League spot for last season’s runners up. It’s a must win game for BVB. It’s that simple, for a side that has been ravaged by the loss of their starting defense through injury; Mats Hummels, Neven Subotic, Lukasz Piszczek and Marcel Schmelzer.

 If Die Borussen win tonight, the risk shifts to Benitez and his Naples’ side, as long as Arsene Wenger’s charges defeat the battering rams, though potential banana peel, that is Marseille.

 If the above happens, Arsenal would then head to Stadio San Paolo in the last group match seeking a point that would cement their progress to the second phase. A loss to Napoli in that match, coupled with BVB’s win over Marseille, would then leave all teams level on 12 points;

 That will be the first time in the competition a team will not qualify with that number of points. Time for head-to-head?

 With all three teams presumed to have 12 points, Dortmund will have had a better head-to-head over Arsenal, the Gunners over Napoli and Benitez’s team over BVB (the latter depending on tonight’s score line). Goals scored will have to come in, and that’s where it could get complicated for the Emirates outfit. We could go on…

 It looks complicated, the permutations, that is. Yet again, everything could be settled tonight by a draw for Napoli and a win by Arsenal. If not, the gods surely must be crazy.

 Tuesday 26th November

 10:45pm          Ajax Amsterdam – FC Barcelona, Amsterdam ArenA, SS3

10:45pm          Arsenal – Marseille, Emirates Stadium, SS5

10:45pm          FC Basel – Chelsea, St. Jakob Park, SS6

10:45pm          Celtic – AC Milan, Celtic Park, SS7

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