Champions League preview

Image: Andre Villas-Boas: Will keep to his attacking style in vital clash against Valencia

Chelsea will be desperate to join Arsenal in qualifying for the last 16 on the biggest night of Andre Villas-Boas' short reign at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea face Valencia in crucial final group game

Chelsea will be desperate to join Arsenal in qualifying for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League on the biggest night of Andre Villas-Boas' short reign at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea were hoping when they recruited Villas-Boas over the summer that he could finally deliver the European trophy that has proved agonisingly elusive, but they are now in danger of falling at the first hurdle. The Blues appeared to be making serene progress towards qualifying for the knockout stages for a ninth successive year, only for a 2-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen last month to leave their qualification hopes in the balance. They are level on eight points with Valencia going into their final Group E clash at home to the Spaniards, knowing that a victory would be enough to go through. A goalless draw would also leave Chelsea with a better head-to-head record against Valencia, but Villas-Boas has vowed to stick to his attacking philosophy after a confidence-boosting 3-0 win at Newcastle in the Premier League on Saturday. Bayer Leverkusen are guaranteed a top-two finish despite being just a point above Chelsea and Valencia, but they will be looking to advance as group winners ahead of their trip to bottom club Genk. Arsenal do not have to endure a nervy night like Chelsea as they are the only English team to have already booked a place in the next round, but it will still be a special occasion for Arsene Wenger on Tuesday as he brings up his 200th European game as manager. The Gunners, who had to negotiate a two-legged play-off against Udinese just to make the group phase, have already been confirmed as Group F winners ahead of their meeting with Olympiakos. Wenger plans to make changes to his side in Greece but has promised to respect the competition and try to win the game. The second qualification berth is still up for grabs, with Marseille travelling to Germany to face Bundesliga champions Borussia Dortmund in the night's other match. Dortmund are very much the outsiders as they have four points and need a convincing victory over Marseille, as well as a favour from Arsenal. Marseille are firmly in control of their own destiny on seven points, but if they fail to win Olympiakos are just a point behind and could take advantage by beating Arsenal.

Surprise package

In Group G, Porto and Zenit St Petersburg will battle it out on Matchday Six for the one remaining qualification spot. Zenit St Petersburg have a one-point lead going into their clash and only need a draw, but it is Porto who have home advantage as they go in search of victory. Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia have been the surprise package and are already certain to have Champions League football in the New Year, although they would love to clinch top spot by beating a Shakhtar Donetsk team that has fared surprisingly poorly. There is nothing left to be resolved in Group H in terms of qualification for the next phase, with reigning champions Barcelona already assured of finishing first ahead of their home fixture against BATE Borisov. AC Milan are also through already in second place, but Viktoria Plzen will still be determined to see off the Italians and protect their two-point lead over BATE to guarantee a Europa League spot.

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