Champions League: Chelsea can reach knockout stage

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Chelsea can reach the knockout stage of the Champions League with a victory at Real Betis on Tuesday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:53 IST
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Chelsea can reach the knockout stage of the Champions League with a victory at Real Betis on Tuesday. Chelsea won the English Premier League last season, and the Blues are running away with the title this season. But the Champions League is a special challenge. Last season Chelsea was ousted in the semifinals by English rival and eventual champion Liverpool. "I have always dreamed about winning the Champions League, and we are desperate to go all the way this season after the disappointment of last year," Chelsea midfielder Joe Cole said. Unbeaten streak Chelsea is unbeaten in 40 Premier League games - 11 this season - and has a nine-point lead at the top. In the Champions League, the Blues have two wins, and a draw with Liverpool. The only blemish this season is a loss to Charlton in a penalty shootout last week in England's League Cup. Hammered 4-0 by Chelsea two weeks ago in the Champions League, Betis needs a victory to have any chance of finishing in the top two in Group G and reaching the knockout stage. "In Seville, it won't be a bed of roses. We have to give them a dose of their own medicine. They're not invincible," Betis winger Joaquin Sanchez said. Since losing to Chelsea, Betis has given up 10 more goals in three games and lost 2-0 to Real Madrid on Saturday. Betis will also be without five key players including Brazilian free kick expert Marcos Assuncao and midfielder Miguel Angel Lozano. He injured his knee two weeks ago at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea and Liverpool have seven points from three games in Group G, followed by Betis with three, and Anderlecht with zero. Anderlecht plays at Liverpool on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, it's: PSV Eindhoven vs. AC Milan, and Schalke vs. Fenerbahce in Group E; Olympiakos vs. Lyon, and Rosenborg vs. Real Madrid in Group F; Artmedia Bratislava vs. Rangers, and Inter Milan vs. FC Porto in Group H. On Wednesday, it's: FC Brugge vs. Rapid Vienna, and Juventus vs. Bayern Munich in Group A; Arsenal vs. Sparta Prague, and FC Thun vs. Ajax in Group B; FC Barcelona vs. Panathinaikos, and Werder Bremen vs. Udinese in Group C; Benfica vs. Villarreal, and Lille vs. Manchester United in Group D. AC Milan leads Of the four groups playing on Tuesday, Group E is the closest. AC Milan leads with five points, with Fenerbahce and PSV on four and Schalke on two. AC Milan goes to PSV, two weeks after they drew 0-0. Both teams are fresh from victories. Milan defeated Juventus 3-1 on Saturday in Serie A, and PSV won 1-0 against FC Twente. Milan striker Andriy Shevchenko missed the last two league matches with a foot injury, and is questionable for Tuesday. Coach Carlo Ancelotti can still rely on three top forwards: Filippo Inzaghi, Christian Vieri and Alberto Gilardino. "We really wanted those three points to prove we are not inferior to Juventus," midfielder Clarence Seedorf said. Lyon plays Olumpiakos In Group F, Lyon is one of only three teams with three victories - Bayern Munich and Arsenal are the others. Lyon plays at winless Olympiakos, and a victory could put the four-time defending French champion into the next round. Lyon has nine points, followed by nine-time champion Real Madrid with six, and Rosenborg with three. Real Madrid plays at Rosenborg. Real Madrid will be without injured Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and Julio Baptista. Uruguayan defender Pablo Garcia is suspended, and David Beckham is doubtful with a bruised leg and back trouble. Right back Michel Salgado is also doubtful with a bruised cheekbone. Lyon, Olympiakos and Real Madrid all picked up weekend victories. Rosenborg, however, drew 1-1 with Tromso. Rosenborg finished seventh in the Norwegian league - the first time since 1991 that it failed to win the league title. Inter Milan leads Group H is another close one, with Inter Milan leading with six points followed by Artmedia and Rangers with four, and 2004 champion Porto with three. Two weeks ago, Porto defeated Inter 2-0, and Rangers and Artmedia drew 0-0. Rangers manager Alex McLeish is fighting for his job after a 1-1 draw with Inverness in the Scottish Premier League. Rangers have fallen 10 points behind Celtic and Hearts, and six behind Hibernian. "The Rangers fans are hurting because their team is not winning and because we have lost some ground in the league," McLeish said. "They are entitled to feel that way. If I was a fan, I would be feeling that way as well." (AP)

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