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‘Group of Death’ permutations for Arsenal, Napoli and Dortmund

The three sides are separated by only three points with two games to play, meaning a team could fail to reach the knockout stage with 12 points for the first time.

After seeing his Arsenal side drawn alongside Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Olympique de Marseille for the group stage of the Champions League, Arsene Wenger mused, “Every game will be of huge importance because it could come down to a point or goal difference in the end.” The Frenchman was not wrong.
GROUP F FIXTURES & STANDINGS
Arsenal
Dortmund

Marseille
Napoli
v
v

v
v
Marseille
Napoli

Dortmund
Arsenal
Team
1. Arsenal
2. Napoli
3. B. Dortmund
4. Marseille

Played

4
4
4
4


Points

9
9
6
0

GD
+3
+1
+2
-6

Group F always promised to be one of the tightest groups in the history of the tournament – and so it has proven, because while the "Group of Death" has already claimed one victim, Marseille, Borussia Dortmund is still clinging on for dear life in a three-way fight for the last 16 with Napoli and Arsenal.

The Germans, who finished as the runner-up last season, currently lie three points behind their English and Italian adversaries with two games to play.

With Dortmund this week hosting Napoli, which welcomes Arsenal to the San Paolo on the final match day, there is now the very real possibility that, for the first time in Champions League history, a team could amass 12 points and fail to reach the knockout stages.

However, there is also a chance that things could be decided Tuesday.

Confused? Well, luckily Goal is here to provide you with all of the permutations relating to one of the most complicated groups the Champions League has seen ...

- Should Napoli beat Dortmund on Tuesday, the Italians will progress along with Arsenal, as long as the Gunners don't lose to Marseille.

- A draw would also see Napoli qualify for the last 16, and Arsenal would go through as well with a win over Marseille.

- If Dortmund beats Napoli, the battle for the two last 16 berths will definitely go to the final match day - even if Arsenal overcomes Marseille to move three points clear of both at the top of group because the Gunners have an inferior head-to-head record against Dortmund.

- Indeed, Dortmund seeing off Napoli would mean that all three teams could finish on 12 points, if Jurgen Klopp's men then get the better of Marseille, and Napoli defeats Arsenal on match-day six.

- In the event of a three-way tie, qualification would come down to points and goal difference accumulated from the six direct clashes between the three sides.

- Despite losing 1-0 at home to Arsenal, Dortmund has the edge on the Gunners by virtue of its 2-1 win at the Emirates. However, Arsenal is effectively 2-0 up on Napoli ahead of its trip to the San Paolo, but the Partenopei have a 2-1 advantage over Dortmund ahead of Tuesday's meeting at Signal Iduna Park.

- Assuming that Arsenal and Dortmund both win their respective games against Marseille, Napoli runs the most risk of being eliminated via any potential three-way head-to-head. Should BVB beat Napoli 1-0 on Tuesday, the Italians would have to beat Arsenal by three goals to qualify in their place. If BVB beats Napoli by two unanswered goals, the Azzurri would need a four-goal win versus the Londonders. And so on. 

- Should, working from the premise of Marseille losing both games, Dortmund beat Napoli 1-0 and the Italians defeat Arsenal 2-0, all three sides would finish level on points and head-to-head goal difference. In this scenario, Napoli would be eliminated having scored no away goals to Dortmund's three and Arsenal's one. 

- But this would change should Napoli lose by a single goal while scoring in Dortmund, in which case a two-goal victory over Arsenal would be enough to take it through. Arsene Wenger's men would be eliminated with a two-goal defeat, unless they scored two goals or more of their own in the process, in which case they would qualify at Dortmund's expense. A three-goal defeat or more would mean an instant exit for the Gunners, regardless of the score line.

Still confused? Well, everything will become a whole lot clearer this week - or even more complicated.

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