English Premier League club Arsenal booked their place in the first knock-out round of the UEFA Champions League this year and now know the complete list of potential opponent for the next round. The draw for the knockout stages will now be held on Dec. 16 in Nyon, Switzerland. This season's Champions League will conclude at the Allianz Arena in Munich, Germany.
The biggest shocks of the group stages must certainly be the premature exits of former champions Manchester United and their nouveau riche local rivals, Manchester City, from groups C and A, respectively.
The English challenge, however, was kept alive by the Gunners, who finished on top of Group F with 11 points from a possible 18, ahead of French side Olympique Marseille. The other teams in the group, Greece's Olympiacos and Germany's Borussia Dortmund, have been knocked out of this year's campaign to rule Europe.
In Group A, Italian Serie A club Napoli secured their passage to the last 16 for the very first time in their history with a 2-0 victory over Spanish side Villarreal. This result also ensured that Manchester City, under the management of Roberto Mancini, would exit this season's Champions League. City, however, ended their campaign with a 2-0 win over German heavyweights Bayern Munich. Napoli finished second in Group A and Bayern as its winners.
In Group B, both Inter Milan and CSKA Moscow, standing first and second, respectively, sealed their places in the next round. CSKA made their entry with a dramatic 2-1 win over Inter, with Russian Vasili Berezutski firing home the winner in the 87th minute. Turkish side Trabzonspor A.S. and French club Lille, however, were knocked out.
The results from Group C were a shock to most football fans, with championship contenders and last year's runners-up, Manchester United, eliminated from the competition after a 2-1 loss to Swiss champions FC Basel. Romanian champions Otelul Galati also went out of the competition. Both Benfica and Basel, first and second respectively, go on to the next round.
In Group D, French side Lyon thrashed Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb 7-1, to finish second in the group. The group is led by Spanish giants Real Madrid, who have won all their games in the group and finished with an impressive 18 points, while Dutch heavyweights Ajax have been eliminated.
Group E saw London side Chelsea ending the group stage as leaders with 11 points from six games, to be followed by German club Bayer Leverkusen who ended second after a 1-1 draw against Belgian champions KRC Genk. Spanish side Valencia and Genk bid adieu to this year's competition.
Group G saw the end of Portuguese club FC Porto and Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk, while Cypriot First Division champions APOEL FC and Russian side Zenit St Petersburg, which is also the former club of Arsenal man Andrey Arshavin, finished first and second respectively.
Group H had little surprises in store, with Spanish and Italian giants, Barcelona and AC Milan, strolling through the group stages successfully. Barcelona went through undefeated, with five wins and one draw. Milan came second with nine points after securing a 2-2 draw against Czech champions Viktoria Plzen. Both Plzen and Belarusian champions BATE Borisov have now been knocked out of the competition.
Last 16 Teams Roundup: Bayern Munich and Napoli (Group A), Inter Milan and CSKA Moscow (Group B), Benfica and FC Basel (Group C), Real Madrid and Olympique Lyon (Group D), Chelsea and Bayer Leverkusen (Group E), Arsenal and Olympique Marseille (Group F), APOEL FC and Zenit St Petersburg (Group G), Barcelona and AC Milan (Group H).