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Make or break at the Mestalla

Published: Tuesday 7 December 2004, 16.00CET
Valencia CF and Werder Bremen, who meet at the Mestalla, are among five domestic champions facing a nervy night. features

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Published: Tuesday 7 December 2004, 16.00CET

Make or break at the Mestalla

Valencia CF and Werder Bremen, who meet at the Mestalla, are among five domestic champions facing a nervy night.
Valencia CF, Werder Bremen, Arsenal FC, Panathinaikos FC and FC Porto each celebrated league titles in 2003/04 but all find themselves united by an unwanted bond tonight.

Much to prove
Despite domestic dominance last season, the five have yet to convince they have what it takes to reach the first knockout round, let alone the latter stages. With seven sides in all going for the three places on offer in the last 16, it promises to be a fascinating evening.

Changing picture
As usual, will be the best place to keep up to date with the qualifying picture as it unfolds across Europe. To get a full view of the state of play prior to kick-off in the first eight Matchday 6 fixtures, click here.

Winner takes all
For Valencia and Bremen in Group G, it is an either/or situation although Claudio Ranieri and Thomas Schaaf will take comfort from the fact they hold their destiny in their own hands at the Mestalla. For all the permutations, both clubs will be going for the win that would in visiting Bremen's case, and could in Valencia's, take them through along with FC Internazionale Milano.

Slight advantage
Arsenal can be thankful in Group E that they get to welcome already eliminated Rosenborg BK for their final fixture while Panathinaikos have to play host to section leaders PSV Eindhoven, who have already qualified. With Arsenal holding a one-point advantage on Panathinaikos, they would appear favourites but will take nothing for granted.

Tense time
Reigning European champions Porto find themselves at the mercy of others in Group H. The Portuguese side must go for a victory at home against pool winners Chelsea FC and hope Paris Saint-Germain FC do not match them against travelling PFC CSKA Moskva. With all of the trio in with a realistic chance, Porto know they could become the first title-holder to fail at the group stage.

Matters undecided
Group F is more clear-cut. With AC Milan and FC Barcelona, on the road at FC Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic FC respectively, safely through the main issue to be decided is who will finish in first and second place, which matters for seedings in the first knockout round. Also of interest is which of Shakhtar and Celtic will enter the UEFA Cup along with the other teams ending the group stage in third position.

Last updated: 07/12/04 23.00CET