Knockout stages already in sight for Euro big guns

Barcelona team
Paris, Oct 18: Several Champions League knockout stage regulars can take a step closer to the last 16 on Wednesday, with Barcelona, AC Milan and Chelsea all in strong positions coming into matchday three.

Pep Guardiola's defending European champions entertain Viktoria Plzen at the Camp Nou in a Group H clash that has all the makings of a major mismatch. After losing 2-0 to Milan at the San Siro three weeks ago, the odds against Viktoria winning in Catalonia are as high as 66-1 with some bookmakers.

Barca remain unbeaten this season, and stayed on top of La Liga following a comfortable 3-0 victory over Racing Santander on Saturday. Now Eric Abidal says the task for an injury-hit Barca -- Gerard Pique is the latest man on the treatment table -- is a simple one ahead of a double-header against the Czech outsiders.

"There are six points at stake in these games. If we win them both, we will have ten points which will be enough to take us into the last 16," said the France full-back. Meanwhile, Milan will be looking for Antonio Cassano, Robinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to reproduce the form they showed in Saturday's 3-0 success against Palermo as they prepare to host BATE Borisov in the other Group H meeting at the San Siro.

Chelsea defend their unbeaten record in Group E when they host Belgian champions Genk at Stamford Bridge. With all the focus on the two Manchester giants, the west London outfit have been making steady progress under Andre Villas-Boas, and have scored eight goals in winning their last two Premier League games. 


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