It is rare that sides are eliminated from the group stage of the Champions League with 12 points, but Rafa Benitez believes it could happen as Napoli aim to pip one of Arsenal and Dortmund to automatic qualification.
Whilst Arsenal have a massive task ahead of them away to Borussia Dortmund tonight, the other match in their group could have huge ramifications for their Champions League destiny.
Napoli take on Marseille at the Stadio San Paolo with Napoli boss Rafael Benitez saying that a side could be eliminated from Group F having accumulated 12 points. A lot of managers usually see ten points as a minimum requirement but given the high standard of the group so far, the former Liverpool boss discussed the possibility that one of the sides may be unlucky.
Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal and Napoli have all taken six points from their opening three group games leaving Marseille rooted to the bottom of the group with no points, leaving their chances of qualification looking bleak. So if Napoli were to drop points against Marseille, it could turn out to be a massive result for the Gunners.
Benitez said ahead of his side’s game: ‘We’ve been talking a lot about numbers but then we decided we only need to focus on the match against Marseille. Win, and see what the other teams will do; and then we can think about numbers once again. We could see a scenario where a team makes 12 points and is eliminated.’
Benitez also said that striker and former Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain is nearing 100% fitness. Higuain has scored in both of Napoli’s Champions League wins so far this campaign, but missed out on the 2-0 loss to Arsenal.
Benitez said: ‘We change our players every match if we have to because everybody is ready to play. Certainly those who have been playing a lot will play again in this match. Higuain is getting better every week, every day in fact.
‘Earlier he was saying he felt at 80%. He is still lacking something to get at 100% fitness but it is looking a little bit better after every single training session.’
image: © Doha Stadium Plus