UEFA Champions League: United on brink, City looks for help and more

ManUBasel (Getty Images)

After seeing Chelsea avoid embarrassment with a convincing UEFA Champions League victory on Tuesday, Manchester United will hope to follow in its fellow English club's footsteps when it takes on FC Basel in Switzerland (2:45 p.m., Fox Soccer Channel).

Both teams trail Benfica in Group C, and while either team could win the group with a result and a Benfica loss to underdog Otelul Galati, the reality of the situation is that the game is a de facto second-place match. Not many expected Basel to contend for a knockout berth, and a win to eliminate Manchester United would be the most shocking development of the tournament.

In order for United to advance, it will need to overcome some adversity up top as both Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov are unavailable through injury. 

Should Basel pull off the shocker and defeat United, Sir Alex Ferguson's side will look back to the teams' earlier meeting, when Basel battled back from a 2-0 deficit to earn a draw at Old Trafford, as a giant missed opportunity.

Here's a closer look at the rest of Wednesday's UCL matches:

GROUP A

The group finale between Bayern Munich and Manchester City (2:45 p.m., Fox Soccer Plus/FoxSoccer.tv/DirecTV) lost most of its luster now that the German side has already wrapped up first place in the consensus Group of Death.

City still has much to play for, though, as it needs to win and hope that Villarreal can work some magic in its home match against Napoli (2:45 p.m., FoxSoccer.tv/DirecTV) in order to advance to the knockout stage. Napoli is currently a point ahead of City in the group standings.

GROUP B

Inter Milan is already through to the next round as the group winner. After that, it's anybody's game.

Three teams are vying for one knockout spot, as Trabzonspor, Lille and CSKA Moscow are all in position to advance if results go their way. CSKA faces the longest odds, needing to come away with a win over Inter Milan (2:45 p.m., FoxSoccer.tv/DirecTV) at the San Siro while hoping that Trabzonspor and Lille play to a draw in their meeting (2:45 p.m., FoxSoccer.tv/DirecTV).

The Turkish side currently holds onto second place by a point over Lille but must go on the road to France in order to secure an unlikely berth in the next stage.

GROUP C

Benfica looks like a sure bet to win the group, as a victory over point-less Otelul Galati would seal the Portuguese side's place among the top pool for the knockout-round draw. A home slip-up, though, would pave the way for the United-Basel winner to claim first place in the group.

GROUP D

Real Madrid and Ajax figure to be the group's two entrants into the next phase, but a glimmer of hope remains for Lyon, which needs to defeat Dinamo Zagreb (2:45 p.m., FoxSoccer.tv/DirecTV) and hope that Ajax loses to Madrid (2:45 p.m., FoxSoccer.tv/DirecTV) all while making up a three-goal differential. 

Ajax losing to Madrid is hardly a given. Like Barcelona did on Tuesday, Madrid should rest most of its regulars with nothing to play for and a massive Clasico a few days away.

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Do you think Basel can prevent Manchester United from making the knockout round? Which other teams do you see advancing?

Share your thoughts below.

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3 Responses to UEFA Champions League: United on brink, City looks for help and more

  1. Lorenzo says:

    My father-in-law’s team is Benfica. His other son-in-law’s team is Porto. I can’t wait for more arguing when we all meet back up for the holidays.

  2. David says:

    Utd need to sign a central midfielder who can draw defenders out and create cover problems going forward.

    If Wayne Rooney drops any further they’ll have him in goal by seasons end.

  3. GW says:

    Rooney loves to play goalkeeper during training sessions, so that wouldn’t be so bad.