Jack believes that 5 points should be enough to go through, but I would think Mark Hughes would be aiming at six points as a minimum, and probably seven to ensure a smooth progression.
I posted previously that the home games would be crucial, and I firmly believe that 2 wins is a must from the fixtures against Twente and PSG, both sides who are mid-table this season in their respective leagues.
The real big game is the trip to Schalke - a recent perennial Champions League side, who unfortunately came up against Atletico Madrid in the qualifiers. If we took a point from this game it would be a bonus - particularly coming as it does between home fixtures against Arsenal and United.
The final game - at Racing Santander could be a crucial one, although the hope is that we have done enough to secure qualification already, as despite not being a 'big side', they had a good campaign during 2007/08 and were not far off qualifying for the Champions League, and a trip there on the final day needing something to go through will not be an easy prospect.
Whilst we have the undoubted talent to go through - and it will be important to do so to get to the knock-out stages after the January window, the concern could be our lack of European experience as looking at the squad there is not a whole lot there.
The pace of games are slower than the Premier League, and we have seen so far (from lesser sides) that we do have to be patient and bide our time (particularly at home) against sides who will come with a game plan and set their stall out.
Having sounded that note of caution, I am taking us to go through in second place on seven points, along with PSG and group winners Schalke.
- Nov 6th - Twente Enschede (h)
- Nov 27th - Schalke 04 (a)
- Dec 3rd - PSG (h)
- Dec 18th - Racing Santander (a)