Soccer

5 things to know about Group B of Champions League

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MADRID (AP)

Real Madrid will be without Cristiano Ronaldo when it tries to secure a spot in the next round of the Champions League against Galatasaray.

Madrid, which holds a six-point advantage at the top of Group B, needs only to draw against Galatasaray to advance from the group stage. A loss could be enough for the nine-time champions, depending on the other result.

Juventus leads the Italian league but must beat FC Copenhagen on Wednesday to maintain its chances of reaching the last 16.

Here are five things to know about Group B:

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RONALDO OUT

Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo will not play against Galatasaray because of injury.

Ronaldo hurt his left hamstring in Saturday's 5-0 victory at Almeria, and Madrid coach Carlos Ancelotti said the Portugal international would not be available on Wednesday.

''We don't want to take the risk with him of making it worse,'' Ancelotti said Tuesday.

Defender Raphael Varane was also ruled out. The Frenchman will be sidelined for 10-12 days to rest his sore right knee.

Madrid is already without injured midfielder Sami Khedira and fullback Fabio Coentrao, and Luca Modric is unavailable because of suspension.

Midfielder Xabi Alonso and defender Marcelo were included in Ancelotti's 19-man squad despite injury concerns.

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FINDING FORM

Juventus is hitting top form with its European season on the line.

The Italian champions have turned around a slow start and have won five league matches without conceding a goal to move into first place following a 2-0 win at Livorno on Saturday.

Fernando Llorente scored one goal and set up the other for Carlos Tevez, signs of a promising partnership between the two following a difficult start to the season for the Spaniard.

''Every time that we play together it's better for us,'' Llorente said. ''Our form improves and with that also our performances. Now we have to continue like this, and in the Champions League, too, because we have to win against Copenhagen.''

Juventus will assure itself a spot in the last 16 if it wins its final two matches, including an away game at Galatasaray.

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CHEERY MANCINI

Galatasaray coach Roberto Mancini is full of hope that the Istanbul side can reach the final 16 of the Champions League.

Following a 2-1 Turkish league win over Sivasspor on Saturday, the former Manchester City manager said he was still trying to acquaint himself with the team.

''Galatasaray is on a good path. (But) I still need a little more time to know the players and the team,'' Mancini said. ''Playing against Real Madrid away is never easy, but if we strive as we do, as Galatasaray does, we can win.''

Ancelotti said he expects Mancini's experience to lift Galatasaray.

''He has a lot of experience, especially in international football,'' Ancelotti said Tuesday. ''This is a new stage for him, a new experience in Galatasaray, but I'm sure he will do very well.''

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COPING COPENHAGEN

Of all the teams hanging on to hope of claiming a spot in the last 16 from Group B, FC Copenhagen must be the big surprise.

The Danish champions held Juventus to a draw to open group play before stumbling to consecutive defeats, but a victory over Galatasaray in the last round of games kept it in contention.

Copenhagen, which beat Viborg 4-1 on Saturday, has lost on its only previous two trips to Italy, conceding five times.

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FINDING HIS STRIDE

After the start to his career at Madrid was marked by injuries, Gareth Bale is certainly snuggling into the Spanish team's attack effortlessly.

Now Bale, playing on the right flank, will have the chance to take control with Ronaldo injured.

''It's a comfortable position for him to play off the striker and tomorrow he can play,'' Ancelotti said. ''I prefer that he plays on the right side so that he can cross into the center and shoot easier. That's the better side for a player who can use both feet.''

Bale has scored five goals and provided five assists to be one of the catalysts to Madrid's recent goal haul up front alongside Ronaldo and striker Karim Benzema.

''Now I'm enjoying myself after overcoming that injury I had to start the season,'' Bale said.

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Follow Paul Logothetis on Twitter (at)PaulLogoAP

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