real, milan not safe yet

PARIS - Real Madrid and AC Milan have 16 Champions League titles between them, but both have work to do today if they are to book their places in the next round of this season's competition.

PARIS - Real Madrid and AC Milan have 16 Champions League titles between them, but both have work to do today if they are to book their places in the next round of this season's competition.

The teams are neck-and-neck on seven points in Group C and will both go through if Real overcome Swiss champions FC Zurich at the Bernabeu and Milan beats Marseille at the San Siro.

Neither side can afford any slip-ups, though, as Marseille are just a point back in third place with two games left.

Fate drew Real and Milan together at a time when both clubs were reeling from disappointing showings last season.

Real, nine-time champions, could only look on aghast as Barcelona romped to a glorious and unprecedented treble, while seven-time winners Milan saw city neighbours Inter cruise to their fourth straight Serie A title.

A summer of soul-searching saw new coaches pitch up at both clubs, while new Real manager Manuel Pellegrini was also granted a multi-million Euro squad makeover.

Three months into the season, both sides appear to be back on track, with Milan having bounced up to third place in Serie A after a stuttering start and Real leading La Liga by one point from Barcelona ahead of next weekend's first "Clasico" of the season at Camp Nou.

Unlike Milan and Real, four-time champions Bayern Munich are staring down the barrel of early elimination as they lie four points behind Juventus in the battle to nail down the final qualifying place in Group A.

Bayern host Israeli outfit Maccabi Haifa, but Juventus visit already qualified group leaders Bordeaux knowing that victory will take them into the next round.

Last season's runners-up, Manchester United, welcome Turkish champions Besiktas to Old Trafford.

Chelsea and Porto have already secured their progress from Group D, but the Premier League leaders can secure top spot in the group when they meet at the Estadio do Dragao in northwest Portugal.

Atletico Madrid will make sure of a consolation berth in the Europa League if they win in Cyprus against Apoel Nicosia. - Sapa-AFP

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