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Group stage places up for grabs

Published: Sunday 26 August 2012, 19.19CET
The ten remaining spots in the UEFA Champions League group stage will be filled this week as the play-offs conclude, with Málaga CF, Celtic FC and FC Dynamo Kyiv all well placed.
Group stage places up for grabs
Dynamo Kyiv are in pole position to progress ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Sunday 26 August 2012, 19.19CET

Group stage places up for grabs

The ten remaining spots in the UEFA Champions League group stage will be filled this week as the play-offs conclude, with Málaga CF, Celtic FC and FC Dynamo Kyiv all well placed.

Ten teams will grasp hold of spots in the UEFA Champions League group stage on Tuesday and Wednesday as the play-off round concludes, with Málaga CF, Celtic FC and FC Dynamo Kyiv all in seemingly good shape to progress.

Manuel Pellegrini's charges look a fair bet to claim a maiden group stage appearance after they overwhelmed Panathinaikos FC 2-0 last week, while a 3-1 deficit will be difficult to overcome for VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach as they journey to Ukraine to take on Dynamo Kyiv. As for Helsingborgs IF, they must overcome the weight of history and a two-goal deficit in order to get past Celtic, who have lost just one of their last eight European home games, winning six.

CFR 1907 Cluj were 2-1 home winners against FC Basel 1893 in the 2010/11 group stage, and their first-leg victory by the same scoreline has left them in a strong position. Udinese Calcio host SC Braga striving to vanquish memories of their defeat by Arsenal FC at this juncture last year, while FC Spartak Moskva will defend a 2-1 lead at Fenerbahçe SK with an 11th UEFA Champions League campaign in sight.

The group stage draw, which includes holders Chelsea FC as one of 22 automatic entrants, takes place on 30 August in Monaco.

Tuesday

Hapoel Kiryat Shmona FC v FC BATE Borisov (0-2)
• Gil Landau's men are bidding to follow in the footsteps of Maccabi Haifa FC, Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC and Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC and become the fourth Israeli club to compete in the group stage.
• In this season's qualifying phase, BATE have kept clean sheets in both of their away games at FK Vardar and Debreceni VSC and their last qualifying defeat by two clear goals came in 2007.

RSC Anderlecht v AEL Limassol FC (1-2)
• John van den Brom's Anderlecht can take heart from a run of four wins from their last five European fixtures at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium – including a 5-0 defeat of FK Ekranas in the third qualifying round. 
• This is AEL's first meeting with Belgian opposition but Anderlecht have played three previous knockout ties against teams from Cyprus, winning them all. 

NK Maribor GNK Dinamo Zagreb (1-2)
• The last time Maribor turned a tie around was back in the 1995/96 UEFA Cup preliminary round when, after going down 1-0 at Skonto FC, they prevailed 2-0 on home soil. 
• Dinamo's 2-1 first-leg home success was a repeat of the scoreline when they last hosted Maribor, in the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round. 

Udinese Calcio v SC Braga (1-1)
• At this identical stage 12 months ago, Udinese's UEFA Champions League ambitions ended with a home defeat by Arsenal FC, but they subsequently went five games unbeaten at the Stadio Friuli in the UEFA Europa League.
• Braga can draw encouragement from their away record in last season's UEFA Europe League, where they earned two wins and three draws.

Panathinaikos FC v Málaga CF (0-2)
 This is only Málaga's second European campaign. In their first, in the 2002 UEFA Intertoto Cup and 2002/03 UEFA Cup, they won five and lost just one of eight away fixtures. 
• Panathinaikos's history offers a glimmer of hope, given that they have twice overturned a two-goal deficit in recent UEFA Champions League campaigns.

Wednesday

CFR 1907 Cluj v FC Basel 1893 (2-1)
•  Ionuţ Rada and Lacina Traoré scored twice inside 12 minutes to set up CFR's victory against Basel on 15 September 2010. Valentin Stocker pulled a goal back but it was not enough.
• CFR's first-leg triumph was the first time a Romanian club had won in Switzerland in UEFA competition; the previous four victories had all come at home.

Celtic FC v Helsingborgs IF (2-0)
• Ominously for Helsingborg, Celtic have lost only one of their last eight European home games, winning six of them. 
• Henrik Larsson hit 242 goals in 315 competitive appearances for Celtic during a career which featured two spells with Helsingborg – first from 1992-93 and then from 2006-09.

Fenerbahçe SK v FC Spartak Moskva (1-2)
• Fenerbahçe's record in their six ties at this stage is W4 L2 and they have won on their last two attempts – beating FK Partizan (4-3 agg) in 2008/09 and RSC Anderlecht (3-0 agg) in 2007/08.
• Spartak are looking to advance to an 11th group stage campaign, while Fenerbahçe are seeking their first involvement since 2008/09 and seventh in total.

FC Dynamo Kyiv v VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach (3-1)
• While Mönchengladbach finished fourth in the 2011/12 Bundesliga, Dynamo were runners-up in Ukraine last season and beat Feyenoord 3-1 on aggregate in the third qualifying round.
• For Mönchengladbach, this is their first taste of European football since the 1996/97 UEFA Cup campaign, when they eliminated Arsenal FC before losing to AS Monaco FC in the second round.

LOSC Lille Métropole v FC København (0-1)
• LOSC have not won in their last four home European games (a defeat and three draws), a run which includes last season's UEFA Champions League group stage and a 2-2 draw at home to PSV Eindhoven in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League round of 32.
• København, meanwhile, are unbeaten in three European away games (a win and two draws) since a 3-0 reverse at R. Standard de Liège on matchday two of last season's UEFA Europa League.

Last updated: 28/08/12 16.56CET

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