It's hard to imagine, but nine-time winner Real Madrid, domestic champions Arsenal and Valencia and defending titlist FC Porto have just one more chance to reach the second round. \nStar studded Madrid, an Arsenal team that won the Premier League without losing a game, Spanish champion Valencia and Porto, which won the UEFA Cup and Champions League back to back, are chasing four of the remaining seven places in the last 16 going into Tuesday's and Wednesday's final group matches. German champion Werder Bremen is another team that could lose out. \nNine teams have already qualified -- Italian clubs AC Milan, Inter Milan and Juventus, England's Chelsea and Manchester United, Germany's Bayern Munich, Spanish league leader Barcelona, French champion Lyon and Dutch club PSV Eindhoven. \nThe draw for February's knockout stage will be made Dec. 17. Third-place teams drop down into the UEFA Cup. \nToday is the must-win day for Arsenal, Valencia and Porto, while Bremen only needs a draw to advance. \nArsenal hosts Rosenborg at Highbury needing a win to advance from Group A. Panathinaikos can edge out the Gunners is if they beat PSV Eindhoven in Greece and Arsenal loses. A draw will not be enough for the Greeks, even if Arsenal lose. \nThe Gunners, which won for the first time in five matches with a 3-0 victory over Birmingham on Saturday, will be without influential midfielder Patrick Vieira and defender Lauren through suspension. \n"When things are bad, you have to dig in and come out of it. You can't perform all the time and be one of the best on the pitch," Arsenal striker Thierry Henry said. "But when you play for Arsenal, everyone expects you to win -- no matter what." \nManuel Almunia could start again in goal after displacing Jens Lehmann on Saturday. The Spaniard kept Arsenal's first clean sheet in 14 matches, but didn't have a lot to do. Lehmann had played in all of Arsenal's 49-match unbeaten league streak. \nGroup H is the only group where all four teams could reach the next round. Chelsea is certain of the top spot, with Paris Saint-Germain, Porto and CSKA Moscow fighting for second. \nPSG can assure itself of staying in second place by beating CSKA Moscow in Paris. CSKA will progress if it beats PSG and Porto doesn't beat Chelsea. Porto can qualify if it beats Chelsea in Portugal and PSG draws or loses. \nJose Mourinho returns to Porto after guiding the club to the Champions League title last season. He's likely to rest several players in preparation for the top-of-the-table league clash with Arsenal next Saturday. \nMourinho has also called on extra security for the match after he was spat at during Chelsea's 3-1 win at Stamford Bridge. \nPorto will be without defender Nuno Valente and midfielder Raul Meireles. \n"It will be a decisive game for Porto and knowing Jose Mourinho like I do, even though Chelsea are in he will not make things easier for us," striker Maciel Cunha said. \nIn Group G, Inter Milan is already through and will only finish second if it fails to beat Anderlecht -- which has yet to earn a point -- and Werder Bremen wins in Spain. \nValencia has to beat Bremen by more than one goal to earn second place over the Germans on goal difference. Valencia beat Albacete 1-0 on Saturday to extend its unbeaten run to five matches. In Group F, AC Milan and Barcelona are already through. Celtic, which hosts AC Milan, needs to match or better Shakhtar's result to secure third place. Shakhtar hosts Barcelona. \nTomorrow, Real Madrid will ensure its place in the next round with a win over Roma in an empty Stadio Olimpico in Group B. The Spaniards will finish second if Leverkusen or Dynamo Kiev win their last match -- but will top the group if the two draw in Germany. If Madrid draws with Roma, a point will be enough for Leverkusen and Dynamo to go through on goal difference. \nMadrid welcomes back Zinedine Zidane, who had missed the club's last two matches with back trouble. \n"I think they'll see the game as an important one because they are playing against Real Madrid and their players will give 100 percent even though they've got nothing to play for," Zidane said. \nRoma has one point from five games and will finish bottom.
‘CRIMINAL ACT’: The UCI said it ‘strongly condemns’ Dylan Groenewegen’s ‘dangerous behavior,’ which left Jakobsen in critical condition and injured other cyclists Dutch cyclist Fabio Jakobsen was in a coma on Wednesday, in “serious” condition, after he was thrown into and over a barrier at 80kph in the conclusion to the opening stage of the Tour de Pologne. Footage showed 23-year-old Jakobsen, of the Deceuninck-Quick-Step, racing elbow-to-elbow with fellow Dutchman Dylan Groenewegen of Jumbo-Visma as both men frantically tussled in a tight sprint to the line in Katowice. However, Jakobsen came off worst, somersaulting over the barriers before colliding with a photographer after Groenewegen had veered suddenly to the right, squeezing his rival into the security wall. “His condition is very serious. His life is
Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
LEAVING IT LATE: Rakuten added late runs last night to add to wins on Wednesday against the Brothers and the Lions on Friday that went down to the last batter The Rakuten Monkeys rallied to post three late runs for another close win, prevailing 5-3 over the Uni-President Lions yesterday as Taiwan’s second-half CPBL season got started with lower scoring output, but exciting finishes. It was Rakuten’s third win in a row. In two games this week, they seized victory in dramatic fashion with their last at-bat and have drawn level with the CTBC Brothers on top of the table after yesterday’s results, 0.5 games in front of the Fubon Guardians and 1.5 games ahead of the Lions. It was tied at 1-1 early, with Rakuten hosting the Lions at the Taoyuan Intenational
STAYING COOL: Hamilton said that his ‘heart nearly stopped’ when he noticed the puncture, but he kept going to beat Alain Prost’s total of six home wins in France Lewis Hamilton said he feared he might not make it home when a last lap puncture almost derailed his charge to a record seventh British Grand Prix victory on Sunday. “I didn’t think I would make it round the last two corners,” the world champion said. The front left tire of his Mercedes had delaminated and deflated on his final lap, leaving the six-time world champion to nurse his vehicle to the finish as second-placed Max Verstappen hunted him down. “I just can’t believe it,” Hamilton said. “It was heart-stopping. I backed off and stayed chilled and was so glad it happened on