The three sides are separated by only three points with two rounds to play, meaning a team could fail to reach the knockout stages with 12 points for the first time everAfter seeing his Arsenal side drawn alongside Borussia Dortmund, Napoli and Olympique de Marseille for the group stages 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
3. B. Dortmund
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 are still clinging on for dear life in a three-way fight for the last 16 with Napoli and Arsenal.
The Germans, who finished as runners-up last season, currently lie three points behind their English and Italian adversaries with two rounds to play.
With Dortmund this week hosting Napoli, who welcome Arsenal to the San Paolo on the final matchday, there is now the very real possibility that, for the first time in Champions League history, a team could amass 12 points and yet fail to reach the knockout stages.
However, there is also a chance that things could be decided on Tuesday night.
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 ever 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 beat Napoli, the battle for the two last 16 berths will definitely go to the final matchday - even if Arsenal overcome Marseille to move three points clear of both at the top of group because they 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 defeat Arsenal on matchday 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 have the edge on the Gunners by virtue of their 2-1 win at the Emirates. However, Arsenal are effectively 2-0 up on Napoli ahead of their 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 run 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 beat 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 a head-to-head goal difference of 4-4. 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, whilst scoring in Dortmund, in which case a two-goal victory over Arsenal would be enough to take them 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 scoreline.
Still confused? Well, everything will become a whole lot clearer this week - or even more complicated.