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Chelsea On Brink Of Champions League Exit

The defending European Champions are on the cusp of making history. No team that has ever won the Champions League has failed to progress to the group stages. Chelsea might well be the first.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side lost 3-0 in Turin, and that defeat combined with a Shakhtar win over Nordsjælland means that Chelsea are no longer in control of their own destiny. A Juventus draw against Shakhtar next month will send Chelsea to the Europa League regardless of how they do against Nordsjælland.

It was another shockingly bad display by Chelsea tonight. Playing their first big game in probably 10 years without Terry, Lampard or Drogba, Chelsea lacked inspiration, leadership and heart.

The defensive woes that Chelsea have struggled with all season were there for all to see. Chelsea have conceded 21 goals in its last 10 games, and have only two wins in their last eight. With Manchester City coming to Stamford Bridge on Sunday, will that be Di Matteo’s last game in charge?

In other action, Barcelona, Valencia, and Bayern Munich all joined Shakhtar Donetsk in reaching the round of 16.

Valencia knew their progress was assured ahead of kick-off against Bayern after Lille won 2-0 at BATE Borisov in the early game. The side Chelsea beat to the title last season, Bayern still needed a point to put BATE out of reach, and although they fell behind with 13 minutes left, they quickly equalised to book their progress. BATE have the consolation of a Europa League place due to their superior head-to-head against Lille.

Barcelona, like Valencia, went through before the bulk of tonight’s matches thanks to a 3-0 win at Spartak Moscow in another early fixture, Lionel Messi striking twice to join Cristiano Ronaldo on five goals. Celtic could have joined them with a draw at Benfica, but the Portuguese side won 2-1 to go ahead of their Scottish visitors on head-to-head, a result which confirmed Barcelona in first place. On the final day, Benfica visit Barcelona and Celtic welcome eliminated Spartak.

Manchester United had already secured top spot in Group H before tonight and Sir Alex Ferguson used the opportunity to give some of his squad players some much needed playing time. So it was not a big surprise to see United lose 1-0 loss at Galatasaray. CFR ended Braga’s hopes with a 3-2 victory courtesy of a Rui Pedro hat-trick, but trail Galatasaray on head-to-head. Galatasaray now visit Braga with CFR at United.