Posted December 11, 2013

Dortmund storms back to take Group of Death; Champions League down to 16

Champions League
Kevin Grosskreutz

Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskreutz brought his side from the brink of elimination to the top of the Group of Death with his clutch goal. (Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Borussia Dortmund’s run to the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League final including plenty of last-gasp drama and heroics, so it should not come as a major shock that the German power endured an emotional final day of the Champions League group stage before winding up in a familiar place: On top.

Kevin Grosskreutz’s 87th-minute goal lifted Dortmund from the brink of elimination and to a 2-1 victory over Marseille, breaking Napoli’s heart, which needed a Dortmund loss or draw, in addition to its own win over Arsenal, to advance. Despite having 12 points in the tournament’s Group of Death, Napoli missed out on the knockout stage via goal differential and will be resigned to the Europa League knockout round, which manager Rafa Benitez navigated successfully last season with Chelsea and emerging as champion.

With the day’s results in the bag, the field for the Champions League round of 16 is set, and it is predictably stacked. Four Bundesliga, four Premier League and three La Liga teams are through, while AC Milan is the lone competitor left from Serie A as Juventus and Napoli both went out in heartbreaking fashion Wednedsay.

Here is the breakdown of who remains:

As for those dropping down to the Europa League group stage, those eight third-place finishers are:

Juventus, Porto, Benfica, Napoli, Basel, Ajax, Viktoria Plzen and Shakhtar Donetsk.

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