UEFA Champions League: A Look Ahead

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When the groups were drawn for the UEFA Champions League in late summer, Inter Milan and FC Barcelona were penciled in as the top two teams in their group. Nobody told Russian champions Rubin Kazan, who have turned Group F into a real Group of Death by taking points off of both European powers.

Due to Rubin Kazan's surprising form, Inter and Barcelona will square off today battling for their qualifying lives. If Inter loses and Rubin Kazan beats Dynamo Kiev today, Inter will go into its last group match against Rubin Kazan needing a win. Barcelona is in worse shape. If the defending champions lose and Rubin Kazan wins today, Barcelona will be eliminated from the Champions League with a match left in the group dstage.

As if that challenge weren't tough enough, Barcelona could face Inter without stars Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who are both battling injuries. If they can't play, Barca will have to lean heavily on playmakers Xavi and Iniesta, as well as handyman Thierry Henry.

Group F is just one of the group races that will clear up in today's action. Here is a rundown of today's matches and TV schedule:

UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCHEDULE

12:30pm- Rubin Kazan vs. Dynamo Kiev

2:45pm- Debrecen vs. Liverpool(Setanta Sports USA, 5pm-FSC)

2:45pm- Fiorentina vs. Lyon(Fox Soccer Channel, 6:45-Setanta USA)

2:45pm- Barcelona vs. Inter Milan(Fox Sports Espanol, 7pm-FSC)

2:45pm- Rangers vs. VFB Stuttgart

2:45pm- Unirea Urziceni vs. Sevilla

2:45pm- Arsenal vs. Standard Liege(4:45 on Setanta USA)

2:45pm- AZ Alkmaar vs. Olympiakos

GROUP E- Lyon and Fiorentina clinch second-round berths with a Liverpool tie or loss, while Liverpool would be eliminated by a Fiorentina win.

GROUP F- Rubin Kazan clinches a second round berth with a win and Barcelona loss.

GROUP G- Sevilla already has a second round berth, while Unirea Urziceni can clinch with a win and Stuttgart loss.

GROUP H- Arsenal clinches a place with a tie. Olympiakos can clinch with a win and a Standard Liege loss.

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Who do you see winning today's Barcelona-Inter clash? Think Liverpool has any chance of avoiding elimination? Do you see Arsenal taking care of business today?

Share your thoughts on today's Champions League action in the comments section below.

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20 Responses to UEFA Champions League: A Look Ahead

  1. William the Terror says:

    Liverpool is “playing” today. Cue up the Tom Petty: “free falling, free falling.”

  2. Lee says:

    “Handyman” Thierry Henry… hehehe

  3. PanchoMiguelMoralesdeConejo says:

    To the Tune of James Taylor’s handy-man

    Hey Ireland, gather round

    Watch the ball, I’ll be pushing down,

    Oh France, I’m your handy-man

    I’m not the kind to follow the rule

    I’m handy in the box, so cool

    I fix poor crosses, watch, as I truly can

    I’m your Handy-Man.

  4. JohnL says:

    lol “handyman Thierry Henry” that made me laugh. I’m hoping both Barca and Pool get eliminated, let some fresh blood in the last 16.

  5. jig says:

    not sure what to think about barca. obviously the loss of messi and ibra hurts on the face of it all, but messi hasnt really been himself this year and zlatan tends to fold under pressure.

    regardless, anything but three points today and its going to get real dicey for them.

  6. Burlington Chelsea says:

    Henry learned his handball skills at Barcalona. Just look no further than their Champions League Semi against Chelsea last year. Oh God it would make my day if Barca were eliminated today!!!

  7. Mig22 says:

    Yeah, it would be sweet. Good old Jose just plugs along, everybody says “Inter is struggling” (similar to what they say about Chelsea very often) and they fail to notice that Inter currently tops the group and of course, Serie A.

    It would be unlikely for Inter to win at Nou Camp though.

  8. Smack says:

    If there was a way to eliminate Chelsea and Manchester United then the final 16 would be great. God, those 2 (stink).

  9. nick g. says:

    “Handyman Thierry Henry” HAHAHAHA love it Ives!

  10. K Bone says:

    Well, I think that’s the point though, Inter have it pretty easy in Serie A (which they should since they have by the far the talented team), but they consistently underacheive in the Champions League. Why else did they get Jose, it certainly wasn’t for the league title. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they go out in the next round. And in my opinion, everything I read usually refers to Chelsea as unstoppable. Of course when they lose one game they are struggling, but then when they destroy a crappy team at home the next game they are “unstoppable” again…

  11. Dave says:

    still whining huh?

    I am super nervous about this match-to be w/out Messi and Zlatan at this critical stage is scary. But this is what it’s all about-step up or go home. We’ll see what this Barca team is made of today-I’m excited-forca barca

  12. Mig22 says:

    And I see it that if Chelsea doesn’t look utterly convincing in winning matches, that they are seen as struggling. ManU is hailed as ‘finding a way’ when they manage a late goal against some victim but Chelsea doesn’t get that same response. The press on Chelsea is almost universally doubting and negative until it’s utterly clear, as now, that they are the class of the league this year.

    We shall see what this weekend brings though. Blues-Gunners should be a treat.

  13. K Bone says:

    Interesting, I tend to think, at least this season so far, that United’s performances has been scrutinized heavily, especially when they haven’t won convincing. I see a lot of “United squeaks by again at the last minute” type of stuff, but maybe it’s because I’m a United fan and I’m slightly biased (although I try not to be). Anyway, I’m definitely hoping for a Chelsea loss or tie so United can make up some ground, assuming they beat Portsmouth. If they don’t, I will weep. I feel like Chelsea has gone largely untested so far this season. All their big games have been at home so far, and they were quite lucky to win against United. The Arsenal game will be a great indicator I think…

  14. Mig22 says:

    Oh, we can both try to be unbiased but while reasonable, I’m pretty certain we see the world thru blue or red glasses. ;)

    Portsmouth will have a new coach this week…maybe they get a result. Tee hee.

    Chelsea may have not been tested but the title is going to go to the team that gets the easy results and don’t get tripped up. Chelsea can lose this week and it’s not a huge deal….as long as no other games like the Wigan debacle happen. Or Burnley in your case.

  15. brentmcd says:

    Rubin Kazan is a fun team to watch. They remind me of Barcelona with their fluid passing

  16. slymer says:

    Barcelona vs. Inter Milan is on FSW in HD!

  17. Catenaccio says:

    Two big matches in the same week for Barca. First Inter then this weekend is the long awaited match vs. Real. Should show what this team is made of and if they can duplicate what they did in ’09.

  18. madmax says:

    Barca destroyed Inter 2-0, without Ibra and Leo. The score is not reflective of how one-sided the game was. I believe Inter needs to win at Kazan to stay in. I believe Liverpool are officially out now that Fiorentina won 1-0.

  19. BurlingtonChelsea says:

    Yes. I think it is these feelings that make me a fan. you?

  20. Dave says:

    sure, that’s fair-I’m just sick of people blaming that match on the referee-not saying you are, but that handball was slightly different-just slightly.

    The ref was horrible for both teams-yes more horrible for Chelsea-but as has been hashed out over and over again-Chelsea were up a man for almost a half an hour in that match and failed to put it away, and Ovrebo didn’t take any goals away from the blues-he just didn’t award any (obvious) penalties.

    What a masterclass from Barca today-granted I’m really not sure what happened to Inter-Mourinho’s blank face gave no indication as to what he thought of the proceedings-they are a better team than that. Regardless-the display in the first half from Barca was epic-that second goal an absolute work of art. Iniesta is truly becoming something special every time he steps on the pitch.

    I would not be surprised if the Blues meet Barca again in one of the knock out rounds-be interesting to see what types of tactics Ancelotti opts for-I can’t see him parking the bus like Mother Guus.