Considering Chelsea have qualified to the knockout rounds of the Champions League with 9 points, Arsenal can count themselves very unlucky not to have booked their spot having bagged four wins in the group stages.
Arsene Wenger’s side have negotiated the “Group of Death” in fine style and it has live up to its billing – undoubtedly including three of the finest sides in Europe.
And then there is Marseille.
OM have been a major disappointment. Losing every game. And on Tuesday night they held back some of their best players to save them for bigger challenges in Ligue 1.
As a result, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli can all still qualify from Group F although the Gunners and Germans look like clear favourites to do it.
Above is a graphic explaining the permutations.
Below is the ESPN’s take on Group F – click here for permutations of all the Champions League groups as it currently stands.
Group F Remaining fixtures: Napoli vs. Arsenal, Marseille vs. Dortmund
Has any team qualified yet? No, though Marseille have been eliminated from Europe altogether with zero points.
Who can still qualify? It’s exceptionally close and the group is still on track for an amazing three-way 12-point tie at the top. Arsenal and Dortmund are very strong favourites to go through though. Arsenal only need to avoid defeat to Napoli by three or more goals to guarantee their place, while Napoli will go through if they better Dortmund’s result. However, if both Napoli and Dortmund win then we have three teams on 12 points and a mini-league is created just involving the results of those teams. In that scenario Dortmund are guaranteed to qualify, as their mini-league goal difference is +1 and cannot change; Arsenal have +2 and Napoli -3. Because of this Napoli can only qualify from the mini-league if they beat Arsenal by three goals, which would dump the Gunners into the Europa League.
Finally, here are the official tie break rules from UEFA on the Champions League group stages:
1) higher number of points obtained in the group matches played among the teams in question;
2) superior goal difference from the group matches played among the teams in question;
3) higher number of goals scored in the group matches played among the teams in question;
4) higher number of goals scored away from home in the group matches played among the teams in question;
5) If, after applying criteria 1) to 4) to several teams, two teams still have an equal ranking, criteria 1) to 4) are reapplied exclusively to the matches between the two teams in question to determine their final rankings. If this procedure does not lead to a decision, criteria 6) to 8) apply;
6) superior goal difference from all group matches played;
7) higher number of goals scored from all group matches played;
8) higher number of coefficient points accumulated by the club in question, as well as its association, over the previous five seasons.