UEFA Champions League: All we can do is focus on winning, says Higuain

Napoli’s last-16 hopes hang in balance as they meet Arsenal in must-win clash


Afp December 10, 2013
ALL TO PLAY FOR: If both Napoli and Dortmund win, all three teams (including Arsenal) would finish on 12 points and the standings would be decided by head-to-head clashes and goal difference. PHOTO: AFP

MILAN: Napoli striker Gonzalo Higuain is hoping to avoid the ‘horrible’ situation of beating Arsenal but still failing to advance to the last 16 of the Champions League when the sides meet on Wednesday.

A 3-1 defeat away to Borussia Dortmund a fortnight ago has left Rafael Benitez’s Napoli third in Group F on nine points, the same as the second-placed Bundesliga side and three adrift of leaders Arsenal.

It means Arsenal, Dortmund and Napoli still have everything to play for, and there will be as much attention paid to proceedings in Marseille as Napoli’s San Paolo stadium.

While Arsenal need only a draw to go through as leaders, Napoli need to beat the Gunners to have any chance of securing a runner-up spot which Dortmund could hold onto a spot with victory in France.

The stark reality though is that Napoli could finish on 12 points and still finish third and out of the competition — a scenario striker Higuain cannot come to terms with.

“I’ve never seen a side eliminated from the competition with nine or 12 points – it’s a horrible situation to be in,” said Higuain.

“All we can do is focus on winning our match. If we win and still go out with 12 points, then there’s not much we can do.”

Cahill challenges Chelsea to cut out mistakes

Chelsea defender Gary Cahill has warned his teammates they must cut out their habit of making careless mistakes if the Blues are to make a serious bid to win the Champions League.

Chelsea have already qualified for the last-16 of the Champions League, but a victory against Steaua is essential to ensure Chelsea finish top of group, and in theory secure an easier draw in the knockout stages.

“Losing games is a concern,” said Cahill. “We’ve kept a lot of clean sheets this season, but in the last two games we’ve let too many goals in. That’s unlike us and it’s down to individual mistakes.

Barca still has a ‘point’ to prove

Barcelona welcome Celtic to the Camp Nou on Wednesday still needing a point to mathematically ensure they finish top of Group H.

The Catalans appeared to be cruising to first place and the benefit of having the second-leg of their last-16 tie at home having beaten AC Milan 3-1 to qualify on match day four.

“We know that we have lost, but we are professionals, we have great players in the squad and we know we how to focus ourselves once more,” said midfielder Alex Song.

“We have been critical of ourselves but now we need to look forward to improve things. That is what we do every day in training along with the management team.”

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