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Advantage Ajax and Arsenal

Published: Wednesday 19 March 2003, 11.35CET
AFC Ajax and Arsenal FC are in the driving seat but any two of four Group B sides can qualify on Wednesday.
Published: Wednesday 19 March 2003, 11.35CET

Advantage Ajax and Arsenal

AFC Ajax and Arsenal FC are in the driving seat but any two of four Group B sides can qualify on Wednesday.

Hot on the heels of last night's UEFA Champions League action comes the completion of Matchday 12 tonight, games that will have profound ramifications as progress to the quarter-finals hangs in the balance for six of the eight teams.

All to play for
Qualification - and the associated rewards that come with it - is still possible for both Newcastle United FC and Internazionale FC in Group A and all four clubs in Group B where only three points separate leaders AFC Ajax from fourth-placed AS Roma.

Race for second spot
With FC Barcelona already qualified from Group A, third-placed Newcastle must win at home to the Spanish side and hope that second-placed Inter fail to beat the eliminated Bayer 04 Leverkusen in Germany. Internazionale could afford a draw or even defeat as long as Newcastle do not win.

Draw sufficient for Ajax
Ajax will go through tonight if they win or draw away to Roma; they will also qualify if they suffer a single-goal defeat of 3-2 or more and Valencia CF are beaten by Arsenal FC, the other two teams making up the group.

Four teams could qualify
In the case of second-placed Arsenal, the English champions will progress either if they win or draw in Valencia, or if they lose and Ajax also lose. For Valencia, a point below Ajax and Arsenal, it is more simple: Rafael Benítez's men must beat Arsenal, as any other outcome will not be enough. Roma, meanwhile, will advance if they win against Ajax and Valencia and Arsenal draw; or if they win 1-0 or 2-1 and Arsenal win.

Complex calculations
So, elimination or qualification is a complicated matter and as kick-off draws near coaches and managers of the teams with a chance of progressing will be dusting off the calculators while praying that results elsewhere conspire to give them hope.

Last updated: 19/03/03 21.36CET

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