While in most groups things are quite clear, the “group of death” offers us three teams with the same amount of points. Borussia Dortmund host Arsenal in what is the best this week has to offer, while Napoli should have less of a challenge in their match against Marseille.
Despite the disparity, the match between Barcelona and AC Milan obviously draws plenty of attention, while Chelsea and Jose Mourinho try to bounce back from their loss to Newcastle in a home match against Schalke.
Chelsea vs Schalke
Look for some changes, as usual, in Jose Mourinho’s lineup compared to the one that lost to Newcastle in the Premier League, in defense (David Luiz off) and probably in his attacking midfield as well, with Willian or Andre Schurrle coming in for Juan Mata. Schalke are coming off a 2-0 away win against Hertha, but their matches against Dortmund and the previous one against Chelsea gave no indication of being good enough to win in this match.
Basel vs Steaua
Playing at home for only the second time in the competition, Basel aren’t winning matches in Switzerland (two consecutive draws) but still lead the table. However, form doesn’t matter in this case, as the Swiss side are simply much better than whatever Steaua have to offer, which isn’t much at this level.
Napoli vs Marseille
Things are going quite badly for Marseille, who look well behind the rest in this group, not to mention without a win in four consecutive matches in France, dropping to 5th. Napoli have won their last three league matches in the Serie A, and are huge favorites to advance to one of the top two spots after tonight.
Dortmund vs Arsenal
We can talk about how much Jurgen Klopp loves Arsene Wenger and his football, but Dortmund, unlike most German clubs, aren’t a naive, attacking team. They’re one of the top 4 teams in Europe, as they’ve shows last year and on their visit to the Emirates; Arsenal leading the table in the Premier League won’t mean anything as they’ll find themselves in trouble at third place.
Zenit vs Porto
Usually it comes down to home advantage when clubs of this level meet, but Porto have declined compared to last season, and their recent form in Portugal (two draws in five matches) hasn’t been too encouraging as well, which gives a chance for Zenit to come very close to qualifying with a home win. (Early match)
Atletico Madrid vs Austria Wien
Most unfair fight of the week, as the second place team in Spain take on a team they’ve beaten quite convincingly last week, while Austria Wien are already 15 points behind the league leaders in their local competition.
Ajax vs Celtic
Last chance for Ajax to hop on board the train to the Europa League after securing only one point from the first three matches. They’re a much better team than Celtic and there’s no doubt who’ll be the dominant side, but it all depends on how well Celtic defend in Amsterdam.
Barcelona vs AC Milan
Sometimes big challenges get the best out of broken teams, and something is obviously broken for AC Milan. Their ability to defend like their lives depend on it is easier at home, and the vast spaces of the Camp Nou are going to be too difficult for a team in a downward spiral to cope with.