Knockout stage berths beckon for United, Barca



AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE

Published — Wednesday 7 November 2012

Last update 7 November 2012 6:32 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

PARIS: Manchester United can avenge the embarrassment of last year’s Champions League group stage exit with a victory in Braga today, while Barcelona can also secure their passage to the knockout stage by beating Celtic.
The fourth round of matches holds great significance for several teams in this year’s competition as defending champions Chelsea face a crunch encounter against runaway Ukrainian league leaders Shakhtar Donetsk, with beaten finalists Bayern Munich vying to keep pace in Group F when they host Lille.
United recovered from an early two-goal deficit to beat Braga 3-2 at Old Trafford a fortnight ago to record their third win in as many matches in Europe’s top club competition, having yet to reach top gear.
Successive league wins over Chelsea and Arsenal has seen United climb to the top of the Premier League table and defensive stalwart Rio Ferdinand believes there is more to come from the Group H leaders.
“I don’t think we have hit a real purple patch yet, which we are really searching for,” he was quoted as saying on the club’s website.
Despite a solid defensive display in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph over the Gunners, United’s profligacy in front of goal prevented a more convincing scoreline and Ferdinand stressed the importance of “getting it all in one package and doing it all in ninety minutes at the right times.”
“We’re still aiming for that and it will come soon, don’t worry,” added the 33-year-old in an ominous warning to upcoming opponents.
Spanish giants Barcelona also have maximum points after three rounds and may welcome back long-term absentee Gerard Pique after the defender was included in the squad for Wednesday’s tie in Glasgow.
A 3-1 win over Celta Vigo at the weekend propelled Barca to their best start to a league season and the Catalans own the distinction of being the only side to have defeated Celtic at Parkhead in the tournament’s modern era.
Jordi Alba’s stoppage-time winner broke Celtic hearts at the Nou Camp two weeks ago and another triumph for Tito Vilanova’s side would secure their progression to the last 16, leaving Celtic with plenty of work to do after a promising start to Group G.
Chelsea will be out for revenge at Stamford Bridge against Shakhtar after their first taste of Ukrainian opposition ended in a 2-0 defeat on matchday three.
Group E leaders Shakhtar are searching for a first victory on English soil, while second-place Chelsea know they cannot afford to cede any more ground if they are to repeat last year’s improbable success.
The Blues are just a point ahead of Juventus, who are in action against Danish minnows Nordsjaelland, and must still travel to Turin later in the month.
Chelsea playmaker Juan Mata billed Wednesday’s clash “like a final,” underlining the importance of collecting three points “if (Chelsea) want to finish first in (their) group.”
Meanwhile last season’s runners-up Bayern Munich find themselves level with Valencia and BATE Borisov, who meet at the Mestalla in midweek, on six points in Group F.
The German heavyweights will be aiming to regain control of the group when they host strugglers Lille at the Allianz Arena, while Rudi Garcia’s French charges must avoid defeat to prevent an early elimination.
Romanian outfit CFR Cluj can tighten their grip on the second qualification spot alongside United in Group H as they welcome bottom side Galatasaray to Transylvania.
Elsewhere Benfica are out to stop the rot against visiting Group G rivals Spartak Moscow in Portugal.
Spartak’s 2-1 win in Moscow earned Unai Emery’s side their first points of the campaign, while Benfica — who have lost two consecutive European home fixtures — are bottom with just a point to their name.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: The Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTNH) has encouraged businessmen to invest in tourism villages in Asir region.“Tourism villages are considered to be one of the most attractive options in the province,” said Mohammad A...
RIYADH: The General Presidency for Youth Welfare (GPYW) has taken part in serving pilgrims and visitors to the Two Holy Mosques as part of the organization’s voluntary and humanitarian work. In his statement, the head of the Riyadh office, Abdulrahma...
RIYADH: Prince Faisal bin Bandar, governor of Riyadh, opened on Wednesday 20 environmentally friendly entertainment projects with a total area of more than 270,000 sq. meters. Among interesting features of these new parks are replicas of the Eiffel T...
JEDDAH: Children and youths afflicted with cancer in the Eastern Province have launched a campaign against terrorist attacks. The patients, their families and doctors have slammed the attacks, which saw many killed and injured, a local publication re...
JEDDAH: Failing to report what one knows about the presence or plans of terrorists and extremists is a “grave sin” and makes the person who fails to do so an accomplice to the resulting actions, according to Abdullah bin Suleiman Al-Manae, a member o...
RIYADH: The World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY) is a major player when it comes to relief work in countries wrecked by human tragedies, Secretary-General Saleh Al-Wohaibi said on Tuesday.He was addressing some 700 guests at the 13th annual iftar pa...
JEDDAH: The General Committee for the Municipal Elections has issued new regulations to oversee the polls, which will be taking place on Dec. 12, 2015.The rules released on Monday spelled out requirements for council members, list of violations and a...
JEDDAH: The Martyrs Fund has announced that it disburses 75 percent of its annual revenues to helping the needy families of martyrs, the wounded, prisoners of war and missing persons.Approximately 25 percent of the revenues is allocated for further i...
MADINAH: Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman arrived in Madinah on Tuesday accompanied by several princes and senior officials for his first visit since ascending the throne. He was met at the airport by Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salma...
JEDDAH: The Council of Ministers has condemned the terrorist attacks in Kuwait, France, Tunisia and Egypt over the past few days.At its weekly meeting chaired by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman on Monday night, the Cabinet said that the...
JEDDAH: The father of the suicide bomber who blew himself up in a mosque in Kuwait has blamed “evil” forces for his son’s behavior.Sounding confused and sad, Sulaiman Al-Gabbaa, the father of Fahad Al-Gabbaa, said: “An evil hand has sent my son to hi...
JEDDAH: The Saudi Traffic Department has denied that it is introducing new license plates for cars.It said hackers posted pictures of the supposedly new license plates on its Twitter account on Sunday. The department said the news, which went viral,...
JEDDAH: The Al-Haramain Train project is described as the largest public transportation project in the Middle East. This vital and strategic project is one of the implementation schemes of the mass expansion of the Saudi railway across the country.Th...
JEDDAH: The number of marriages between expatriates and Saudis has dropped 84 percent to 1,928 since the start of this Islamic year that began on Oct. 24, compared to the same period the previous year.The Ministry of Justice said that there were 12,0...
JEDDAH: The General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) launched the idea of a project called Watani to link all parts of the Kingdom by air by beefing up activities at important provincial airports.Capt. Abdul Hakim Badar, assistant vice president a...

Stay Connected

Facebook