The group of death in the 2012-2013 champions league goes into the second round of play, as a stuttering Manchester City host a struggling (in Germany) Borussia Dortmund side, while Real Madrid travel to Amsterdam, facing Ajax but thinking about Barcelona. Arsenal will try and put the Chelsea defeat behind them when hosting Olympiacos.
Group A – Dynamo Kiev vs Dinamo Zagreb
Not the greatest of seasons, or periods in general for Dynamo Kiev, having to play second fiddle to Shakhtar in Ukraine. Niko Kranjcar is having a good start to his career in Ukraine with 4 goals up till now. Both teams looked very bad in their opening matches, but Kiev are the better side and should come out with their first points of the group stage.
Group A – FC Porto vs Paris Saint-Germain
Porto keep selling their biggest stars and keep finding players to replace them, with Colombian Jackson Martinez being tipped as the next big hit. They had trouble in their first away match against Zagreb, but found a way to win. In Portugal, they won their two home matches 4-0, so expect to see goals. Meanwhile, the PSG project is running smoothly after a patchy start, winning their last four matches and not conceding in three of them. A draw looks likely in this one.
Group B – Arsenal vs Olympiacos
Arsenal hit their first road bump of the season in their home loss against Chelsea, but their attacking and defending problems shouldn’t be as meaningful when Olympiacos, naturally the league leaders in Greece, come to visit the Emirates, with hardly a chance of coming away with a point.
Group B – Schalke vs Montpellier
Schalke, except for their match against Bayern Munich, have looked very good in both the Bundseliga and their away win against Olympiacos in Greece, and look like a team that can even finish first in this group. Montpellier won’t win any league titles in France this season, and are likely to finish last in this group. They won’t come away with any points from Germany.
Group C – Zenit vs Milan
Things are going pretty bad for both sides. Since the purchase of both Hulk and Axel Witsel, there’s somewhat of a revolt going on at the President’s team, not winning their last three league matches and getting shackled against Malaga. For AC Milan, it’s simply depressing to watch, winning only two of their first six matches this season. Luckily for them, they’re better when away from the San Siro. A draw, maybe a win for Milan.
Group C – Anderlecht vs Malaga
Don’t let the 0-0 draw at Milan fool you. The Belgian champions are as usual a step below most of the competition in the Champions League, but they’re still undefeated this season in league play, so a red-hot Malaga, backed by their 3-0 win over Zenit and an undefeated La Liga campaign so far, might struggle to come away with the 3 points, but still, their class should get them through this one eventually.
Group D – Manchester City vs Dortmund
Manchester City, despite the draws in the league and the 90th minute loss to Real Madrid, are a very strong team. When they actually play Edin Dzeko in the starting lineup, they might find it easier to close out matches. For Dortmund, just like last season, there are early problems, but their 5-0 win over Monchengladbach means their coming into City high in confidence. Anything can happen in this one, but City will probably edge out a win.
Group D – Ajax vs Real Madrid
Ajax still haven’t lost in the Netherlands this season, but the gaps of quality with Real Madrid are so big it’s hard to think about the Dutch side winning this one, losing to Real Madrid four consecutive times in recent seasons. Last season was part of the big conspiracy, as two legal Ajax goals were disallowed while Lyon went on the rare scoring rampage in Zagreb. For Real Madrid, leaving some key players out of the lineup, with the Clasico looming in the weekend, isn’t out of the question. They still should win this, although a draw isn’t out of the question.