Arsenal are 7/10 to qualify from what is being called this year’s Champions League group of death and they will need to draw on all their reserves to emerge from a pack that includes last season’s finalists Borussia Dortmund and Serie A leaders Napoli.
Here are three other tales of unexpectedly bold qualification campaigns to hearten the Gunners.
SPL champions Celtic had previous form navigating difficult groups as they edged ahead of Benfica and Copenhagen six years earlier and saw off Shakhtar Donetsk and the Portuguese side again the following season.
The Stadium of Light club must have feared the worst after drawing the Hoops in last year’s Group G, alongside the then second-best side in Russia Spartak Moscow and Barcelona.
Benfica held Neil Lennon’s Bhoys to a stalemate in Glasgow and beat them in Lisbon, but home and away wins against Spartak and an astonishing 2-1 defeat of Barca at Parkhead saw Celtic through to the knockout stages in second place.
Based on UEFA coefficients Olympiakos were ranked 28th of the 32 teams taking their places in the group stage six years ago and were expected to finish fourth in a group that contained Real Madrid, Werder Bremen and Lazio.
However, Takis Lemonis’ Greek Super League champions had clearly not read the script and beat Bremen home and away, as well as taking four points against the Biancocelesti.
A 4-2 loss at the Bernabeu was Olympiakos’ only Group C reversal and they qualified with the same points tally and goal difference as Real, but Los Blancos’ superior goals-scored record kept the plucky Red-Whites off top spot.
Lokomotiv Moscow 2003/04
With Premier League giants Arsenal, then 13-times Serie A champions Inter Milan and 1999 Champions League semi-finalists Dinamo Kiev to deal with there would have been few people betting on Lokomotiv Moscow emerging from Group B with anything but pride.
A 2-0 loss in Ukraine in the opening set of fixtures seemed to confirm this notion, but after holding Arsene Wenger’s side to a 0-0 draw in Russia Lokomotiv went on to stuff Inter 3-0 at home and take a point off them at the Giuseppe Meazza.
They gained revenge over Dinamo with a 3-2 home win and qualified from the group in second place, ahead of the Nerazzurri on goal difference.