Champions League: Manchester United, Juventus, PSG target place in last 16

A win against PSV will secure United's berth in the last 16.

Champions League: Manchester United, Juventus, PSG target place in last 16

AFP Sports looks ahead to Wednesday’s action in the Champions League with Manchester United and last season’s runners-up Juventus among the sides looking to qualify for the last 16.

Group A

At Malmo, Sweden

Malmo (SWE) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)

This game is all about the return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic to face his hometown club and the team where he started his glittering career before leaving for Ajax in 2001.

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The interest in this fixture is huge in Sweden -- after the draw was made there was talk of moving it to Stockholm to allow more fans to attend and tickets have reportedly been going on the black market for as much as 20,000 kronor ($2,289, 2,146 euros).

PSG's 1-0 defeat at Real Madrid three weeks ago remains their only loss this season but a win here will take Laurent Blanc's side through to the last 16 and a draw would suffice depending on the result in the other game in Ukraine.

Defeat however would leave their qualification hinging on the closing set of results next month. Marco Verratti and David Luiz will be missing for the visitors. Meanwhile, Malmo, whose domestic season ended last month, need to win to stay in contention.

At Lviv, Ukraine

Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Real Madrid (ESP)

The pressure on Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez is intense in the wake of Saturday's 4-0 trouncing at the hands of Barcelona in the Clasico at the Santiago Bernabeu.

That came after a 3-2 defeat at Sevilla and has left Madrid six points adrift of leaders Barca in La Liga.

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Los Blancos are in crisis and president Florentino Perez felt compelled to call a press conference on Monday to give Benitez the dreaded vote of confidence.

At least they can head to Ukraine with the pressure off having already secured their place in the last 16, although a win in Lviv will guarantee top spot.

Shakhtar are top of the Ukrainian league but realistically need a win to maintain any hope of reaching the knockout stages themselves. Sergio Ramos and Marcelo have been ruled out for the visitors.

Group B

At Moscow (1700 GMT)

CSKA Moscow (RUS) v Wolfsburg (GER)

In one of the closest groups to call, CSKA are bottom but could move into second place if they beat Wolfsburg at the Arena Khimki and other results go their way.

However, they could also be eliminated in case of a defeat. Wolfsburg, meanwhile, are third but just one point behind leaders Manchester United.

CSKA are looking to avenge a 1-0 defeat in Germany in September and also lost at the weekend -- a 2-0 home reverse against Krylya Sovetov Samara was their third defeat on the bounce but they remain top of the Russian Premier League.

Wolfsburg, in contrast, travel east after crushing Werder Bremen 6-0 in the Bundesliga at the weekend.

At Manchester, England

Manchester United (ENG) v PSV Eindhoven (NED)

For all the criticism aimed their way this season, Louis van Gaal's United are just one point off the top of the Premier League and a win against PSV will secure their berth in the last 16 with one game to spare in Group B.

Louis van Gaal's side won 2-1 at Watford at the weekend despite being without Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney due to injury and illness respectively.

United lost 2-1 in Eindhoven in September when Luke Shaw suffered a horrific leg break and PSV remain right in contention.

Coach Philip Cocu, who played under Van Gaal at Barcelona, is looking for his team to leapfrog United with a win.

Held to a 2-2 draw by Willem II at the weekend, PSV are four points behind Dutch league leaders Ajax just now.

Group C

At Astana (1500 GMT)

Astana (KAZ) v Benfica (POR)

Benfica have saved their best form for Europe this season and a fourth win in five Group C outings when they make the long trip to Kazakhstan will take the Portuguese giants through to the last 16.

A draw will also be enough if Galatasaray fail to win at home to Atletico Madrid later on Wednesday, but Rui Vitoria's side have lost captain Luisao for two months with a broken arm and lost 2-1 after extra time to Lisbon rivals Sporting in the Portuguese Cup at the weekend.

Since they last played in the competition, Astana have retained the Kazakh title and lost to Kairat in the national Cup final.

They are still to win in the group stage but have already held Galatasaray and Atletico at home. However, they need to win this time to keep their hopes alive.

At Madrid

Atletico Madrid (ESP) v Galatasaray (TUR)

Beaten 2014 finalists Atletico need only draw against Galatasaray at the Vicente Calderon to secure their place in the last 16, although they may have to win to retain a chance of finishing top of the section.

Diego Simeone's side, who welcome back Juanfran for this match, are eight games unbeaten in all competitions after a Koke goal secured a 1-0 victory at Betis on Sunday to leave them second in La Liga behind Barcelona.

Galatasaray must win but these are turbulent times for the Turkish champions, who sacked coach Hamza Hamzaoglu last week and drew 3-3 at home to Antalyaspor at the weekend despite leading three times.

Since then Mustafa Denizli, 66, has been named the new coach as he returns for a third spell, 23 years after his last stint in charge.

Group D

At Turin, Italy

Juventus (ITA) v Manchester City (ENG)

With Manchester City already through, Juventus can join them in advancing from Group D with a win in Turin.

A draw will also suffice as long as Sevilla do not win their game in Germany, and the current form guide suggests Juve are the favourites.

After a slow start to the campaign, the reigning Serie A champions and last season's Champions League runners-up made it three straight league wins at the weekend by beating AC Milan 1-0.

City, in contrast, travel on the back of a chastening 4-1 home defeat to Liverpool in which their defending was shambolic.

However, a win for Manuel Pellegrini's men here will secure them top spot, an important objective as they aim to avoid a tricky tie in the last 16. Samir Nasri is out for several months for City while Hernanes is suspended for Juve.

At Moenchengladbach, Germany

Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) v Sevilla (ESP)

Sevilla's only points so far came in a 3-0 win at home to Gladbach in September and they must win again in Germany, and hope Juventus fail to beat Manchester City, to maintain any hope of reaching the last 16.

Gladbach, meanwhile, cannot reach the last 16 but can still pip Sevilla to the consolation of a berth after Christmas in the Europa League, a competition Sevilla have won in each of the last two seasons.

Gladbach are fifth in the Bundesliga after beating Hanover 96 2-1 at the weekend thanks to a late Raffael winner.

Sevilla have been dogged by inconsistency all season long, and lost Italian defender Marco Andreolli to a ruptured achilles tendon in a 2-0 weekend defeat to Real Sociedad.

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