At center stage of the second day in the Champions League’s group stage third round are Real Madrid and Juventus, a rather one-sided rivalry over the last decade and probably more, and the struggles of Manchester United carrying on to Europe as they face a disappointing Real Sociedad side.
There are still questions about where and when Manchester City and CKSA Moscow will play their match, but there’s no doubt that the European champions, Bayern Munich, hosting Viktoria Plzen, has the least “surprise” factor in it than any other match we’ll see in the competition this season.
Bayer Leverkusen vs Shakhtar Donetsk
Leverkusen got to be in the European spotlight these last few days thanks to the phantom goal by Stefan Kiessling. Their Bundesliga form has been fantastic so far this season, winning 7 matches out of nine, but Shakhtar, who have been struggling slightly when compared with the past in local matches, are a different challenge. Their head coach has said he’s less worried about Champions League matches because there’s no need to motivate his players. Shakhtar are a better team, but Levekusen should be good enough to force a draw at home.
Manchester United vs Real Sociedad
It’s been an awful start to the season for the Basque side, winning only twice in the league (including this weekend against Valencia), while Manchester United’s troubles are well recorded and known. Luckily for them, European teams don’t ave the strong midfield and centre back duo most Premier League sides possess, which should make this a rather comfortable three points while David Moyes continues to try and figure out what the hell he’s doing.
Galatasaray vs FC Copenhagen
Galatasaray are only 11th in Turkey, but at some point the shock of losing Feith Terim will wear off, and performances like in their 2-2 draw with Juventus will come to light a bit more often. Copenhagen aren’t even doing well in their local league, so even a draw against a much better side, especially away from home, seems out of the question.
Real Madrid vs Juventus
The last few weeks haven’t been kind to Juventus, who are suddenly a team without a defense that seems almost impregnable, and a legendary goalkeeper who might not be that good anymore. Real Madrid are winning without style but still picking up the points; with or without Gareth Bale, they’re massive favorites to keep up with their perfect start.
Anderlecht vs Paris Saint-Germain
Anderlecht can play some impressive football at home like they did against Olympiakos, but the end result is no different, having not scored a single goal so far in the Champions League this season. PSG are hitting their stride, claiming the lead in France, and should have no problem carrying on with the Zlatan & Cavani show in Brussels.
Benfica vs Olympiakos
Olympiakos got three chances when they played in Belgium against Anderlecht, all three of them converted by Mitroglou. Benfica aren’t playing very consistently this season, but they’re a much better side than the Belgian champions, especially at the Estadio Da Luz, and their brand of football which is a bit more cautious than what Olympiakos encountered three weeks ago will be enough to pick up a second win.
CSKA Moscow vs Manchester City
It’s not quite clear when and where this match will be played and even if it will be played, although it’s unlikely UEFA will give in to Manchester City’s pleas. However, even on a bad pitch, the English side are huge favorites, as the quality gap between them and the Russian champions is just too great, regardless of the venue.
Bayern Munich vs Viktoria Plzen
Bayern keep getting pieces back from injury (Mario Gotze), making this matchup the easiest and most predictable out of all the matches we’ll have this season in the Champions League group stage.