Tue, Oct 23, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Champions League giants looking for wins to progress

ALL STILL TO PLAY FOR Manchester United travel to Kiev, Arsenal host Slavia Prague and Barcelona take on Rangers in today's big European games


European giants Barcelona, Manchester United and Arsenal can all take a huge step toward qualifying for the Champions League knock-out phase if they win their respective matches today.

All three have a perfect six points from their first two matches and another victory will leave them virtually assured of progression.

United face arguably the toughest task with a trip to Ukraine to face Dynamo Kiev, a task made all the more difficult due to a host of injury problems that sees the likes of Gary Neville, Owen Hargreaves and Louis Saha certain to miss out and Nemanja Vidic doubtful.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson did get the chance to rest key winger Cristiano Ronaldo, though, during Saturday's 4-1 thrashing of Aston Villa, meaning the mercurial talent should be fresh and raring to go in Kiev.

United also have England striker Wayne Rooney in fine form following his double strike against Villa and a spectacular goal in England's 2-1 defeat in Russia in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

Most worrying for United is Vidic's absence as he is still struggling from a blow to the head he received against Wigan two weeks ago.

"Vidic is a doubt for Tuesday. He is still feeling some reaction to the knock he got against Wigan and in that situation you can't take a chance," Ferguson said. "He will be close but I'm not so sure he will be ready to play in Kiev."

Kiev are bottom of Group F after losing their first two games -- 2-0 at Roma and 2-1 at home to Sporting Lisbon, teams United beat 1-0.

In London, Arsenal take on Slavia Prague with manager Arsene Wenger admitting that last year's defeat to PSV Eindhoven in the knock-out stages is motivating his team this time around.

"The big frustration in our throats is how we went out last year against PSV Eindhoven," Wenger said. "That frustration is still very lively."

"To get that out, I do not think we will have any chance to relax against teams like Slavia Prague because we have been knocked out last season by PSV," he said.

Arsenal lead group H by three points from Slavia and Sevilla.

They have Robin van Persie currently sidelined through injury, meaning Wenger may turn to English teenager Theo Walcott for some attacking spark, following the forward's star showing against Bolton as a substitute at the weekend.

"He has found the injection of pace he had before and he uses his body better," Wenger said. "When you see what he brings when he came on, you are very excited."

In group E Barcelona travel to Glasgow to face Rangers, who like the Catalans boast a perfect record from their first two matches.

Barca are missing key players Samuel Eto'o, Deco, Yaya Toure and Gianluca Zambrotta and are heading into the game off the back of a 3-1 defeat to Villarreal, while Rangers dominated their arch-rivals Celtic 3-0 on Saturday.

Barcelona leftback Eric Abidal knows his team are in for a battle.

"I've played against Scotland with France and we lost twice. Their football is very aggressive and very physical," he said.

"Barca has to develop its play and not fall into playing their style of game, based on the counter-attack and physical battles."

In the other game Inter Milan travel to Russia to play CSKA Moscow in group G.

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