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09.12.2008 23:39

Chelsea or Inter, first possible rivals


With half the Champions League groups complete, Barça already have a fairly good idea of who they might be meeting in the first knockout round.

FCB could well be renewing contact with last year’s finalists Chelsea, who they met in consecutive seasons in 2004/05 and 2005/06. Scolari’s side may have beaten Cluj tonight (2-1) but that was not enough to prevent AS Roma, who beat Bordeaux, from finishing first in the group.

Mourinho and Inter

111730-500.jpgWhen Barça last met Chelsea, the Londoners were being managed by José Mourinho, but the Portuguese coach is now in charge of Inter, who finished second group B and are another potential rival. The Milanese outfit lost to Werder Bremen tonight (2-1) and have been edged off the top by Panathinaikos, who won against Anorthosis (1-0)

Group D

Atlético Madrid drew away to Olympique Marseille (0-0) and coupled with Liverpool’s comeback away to PSV (1-3), Aguirre’s side will have to make do with second spot in the group. Being fellow Liga sides, Barça and Atlético cannot meet each other in the first knockout round, teams competing in the same domestic league being kept separate until the quarter final stage.

More to come on Wednesday

On Wednesday the remaining four groups will be sorted out. There are no doubts as to which eight teams will be going into the second round draw, but in none of the groups has it been decided which side will be seeded due to finishing in first place.

First place up for grabs

In Group E, Manchester United and Villarreal can both top the group. If the Spaniards come second, they would not be able to meet Barcelona in the last sixteen. In Group F, it is Olympique Lyon and Bayern Munich that will be vying for top spot as they clash head-to-head, with the French side going into the final day with the lead, but only on goal difference. And then in Group G it is Porto and Arsenal that are playing for first place, the Londoners currently enjoying a two-point advantage over the side from Lisbon.

If Group H were to remain as it is, then Barça would not meet either top seeded Juventus or fellow Liga side Real Madrid. Only a Juve loss and a Madrid win under new manager Juande Ramos would be able to change things around, and the ‘Old Lady of Turin’ would be another of Barcelona’s potential opponents in the next round.
Chelsea or Inter, first possible rivals
Draw on December 19
Once the Champions League group stages have concluded, there will be a week-long wait for the teams before the draw for the second round is made on Friday December 19.

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