When the groups were drawn for the UEFA Champions League in late summer, Inter Milan and FC Barcelona were penciled in as the top two teams in their group. Nobody told Russian champions Rubin Kazan, who have turned Group F into a real Group of Death by taking points off of both European powers.
Due to Rubin Kazan's surprising form, Inter and Barcelona will square off today battling for their qualifying lives. If Inter loses and Rubin Kazan beats Dynamo Kiev today, Inter will go into its last group match against Rubin Kazan needing a win. Barcelona is in worse shape. If the defending champions lose and Rubin Kazan wins today, Barcelona will be eliminated from the Champions League with a match left in the group dstage.
As if that challenge weren't tough enough, Barcelona could face Inter without stars Lionel Messi and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who are both battling injuries. If they can't play, Barca will have to lean heavily on playmakers Xavi and Iniesta, as well as handyman Thierry Henry.
Group F is just one of the group races that will clear up in today's action. Here is a rundown of today's matches and TV schedule:
UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SCHEDULE
12:30pm- Rubin Kazan vs. Dynamo Kiev
2:45pm- Debrecen vs. Liverpool(Setanta Sports USA, 5pm-FSC)
2:45pm- Fiorentina vs. Lyon(Fox Soccer Channel, 6:45-Setanta USA)
2:45pm- Barcelona vs. Inter Milan(Fox Sports Espanol, 7pm-FSC)
2:45pm- Rangers vs. VFB Stuttgart
2:45pm- Unirea Urziceni vs. Sevilla
2:45pm- Arsenal vs. Standard Liege(4:45 on Setanta USA)
2:45pm- AZ Alkmaar vs. Olympiakos
GROUP E- Lyon and Fiorentina clinch second-round berths with a Liverpool tie or loss, while Liverpool would be eliminated by a Fiorentina win.
GROUP F- Rubin Kazan clinches a second round berth with a win and Barcelona loss.
GROUP G- Sevilla already has a second round berth, while Unirea Urziceni can clinch with a win and Stuttgart loss.
GROUP H- Arsenal clinches a place with a tie. Olympiakos can clinch with a win and a Standard Liege loss.
Who do you see winning today's Barcelona-Inter clash? Think Liverpool has any chance of avoiding elimination? Do you see Arsenal taking care of business today?
Share your thoughts on today's Champions League action in the comments section below.