Champions League, Chelsea, Premier League

Champions League: Chelsea Advance Despite Defeat

uefa-champions-league-logoChelsea have put last season’s Champions League group stage elimination behind them as they became the fifth side to make the round of 16 despite losing 1-0 at Basel. Elsewhere an injury riddled Barcelona suffered a rare European defeat while Arsenal and Dortmund picked up big victories.

Qualified for last 16: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, FC Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Manchester City FC

Guaranteed at least UEFA Europa League spot: Basel, Schalke , Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Napoli, Zenit, Porto, Ajax, AC Milan

The only section that began play with all four sides knowing they could still either go through or be eliminated was Group E and now Chelsea are in the last 16 while Steaua, held 0-0 by Schalke, can no longer make it. Chelsea fell to a late goal at Basel, who moved one point ahead of Schalke, at home to the Swiss club on 11 December. Chelsea, a point in front of Basel, will end up in the top two following Schalke’s failure to win but Steaua cannot finish above fourth even if they win in London next month.

In Group F no teams are through despite Arsenal having a three-point lead after ending Marseille’s European campaign with a 2-0 victory while Dortmund beat Napoli 3-1 to overtake them on head-to-head record. If the Gunners lose in Naples in a fortnight and Dortmund beat OM, either Arsenal or Napoli will be the first club to ever fail to reach the knockout stages with 12 points.

Atletico Madrid remained unbeaten in Europe as they draw 1-1 to Zenit to guarantee first place in Group G. Porto remain a point behind second-placed Zenit with an inferior head-to-head record, so must beat Atlético and hope Zenit do not win at Austria.

Barcelona were already through from Group H at have not locked up first place after a surprising 201 defeat to Ajax.  AC Milan comfortably beat Celtic 3-0 in Glasgow to stay a point clear of Ajax, who they host on 11 December. Celtic will finish bottom of the group, but they can potentially deny Barcelona first place in the group, if the win at the Camp Nou in two weeks.