The second round of group stage matches in the 2012-2013 Champions League begins with Chelsea travelling to face Nordsjælland in Denmark, Juventus hosting Shakhtar, Bayern Munich travelling to Borisov, Benfica hosting Barcelona in a very intriguing match while Manchester United travel to Cluj.
Group E – FC Nordsjælland vs Chelsea
Anything but a Chelsea win, who are leading the Premier League and coming off an impressive away win over Arsenal, will be a huge surprise. The Danes hardly troubled Shakhtar in their debut UCL match, losing 0-2 in Ukraine. For Roberto Di Matteo, who might make a few changes from Saturday, this should be the first win in the Champions League this season.
Group E – Juventus vs Shakhtar
Two teams in excellent form – Juventus have won five of their first six matches in Italy, including a 4-1 thrashing of Roma last Saturday, continuing their undefeated streak (now 46 matches) in the Serie A, while impressing many with their style and composure in the 2-2 draw against Chelsea. Shakhtar’s best player at the moment, surprisingly, isn’t Brazilian, but Armenian Henrikh Mkhitaryan who scored twice against the Danes two weeks ago. Still, Juve are a very strong team, maybe on the verge of title contender strong, and should have enough to claim their first Champions League 3 points since 2009.
Group F – BATE Borisov vs Bayern Munich
Borisov stunned Lille last week with a 3-1 win, but it was one of those matches in which everything they did went right, scoring three times out of the five chances they created, while Lille just missed and missed. Luck won’t be enough against Bayern Munich, who have won their first six Bundesliga matches, not conceding once in their last three games.
Group F – Valencia vs Lille
Valencia were clearly out of their league in their visit to the Alianz-Arena, but at home against Lille Pellegrino’s side should be the better side in an entertaining match, with Valencia still undefeated at home this season. Lille aren’t doing too well in France, winning only one match from the opening 7, especially struggling to score goals with only 8 so far. They’ll lose for a second consecutive time at the Mestalla.
Group G – Spartak Moscow vs Celtic
Spartak Moscow, somehow, managed to score two goals at the Camp Nou while hardly crossing the halfway line for 90 minutes. They aren’t off to the best of starts in Russia (5th, 19 points) but they have won their last two matches, and should continue that trends against a very weak Celtic side, leading the SPL at the moment, which doesn’t indicate too much about their actual strength.
Group G – Benfica vs Barcelona
Benfica struggled in their first UCL match of the season at Celtic, but a troubled Barcelona side isn’t guaranteed a victory at the Estadio Da Luz because of the defensive problems showcased in the 2-3 win at Sevilla, partially thanks to the referee. Benfica lead the league in Portugal, along with Porto, scoring at least two goals in each of their league matches. Barca are favorites, but a draw wouldn’t be surprising.
Group H – CFR Cluj vs Manchester United
Cluj didn’t play well in their win over Braga, lucky to come away with the shocking 2-0 victory by counter attacking and brave defending. They’re off to a terrible start in Romania, currently ranked 8th, nine points behind the league leaders. United are coming off a home loss and will probably be resting quite a few players, especially in the midfield, but still should be the favorites to win this one although not by much.
Group H – Galatasaray vs Braga
Galatasaray suffered a stunning loss to Orduspot in their last Turkish league match, but their impressive and attacking display at the Old Trafford (still lost) and their good start in the league (1st place) make them confident and favorites against a Braga side that lost at home to Cluj, although might be dangerous through counter attacks and not having to dominate possession and build up play like against the Romanians.