The return of the Champions League puts the focus on two groups: The group of death, where Arsenal should have no problem at home against Marseille and Dortmund try to get over their league slump against a similarly dropping club like Napoli. In the ‘vintage’ group, Barcelona and Ajax should put on quite an interesting show, while Milan will try to get something out of their tough away trip to Glasgow, facing Celtic.
Chelsea, playing in Basel, the only team to take points off them in the competition so far, can clinch a spot in the next round, while Zenit are hoping that Atletico Madrid have lost interest after a perfect run through the first four matches, helping them create some separation from Porto.
Basel vs Chelsea
When the competition began, Basel stunned Europe with a win at Stamford Bridge. What’s changed? They haven’t won again, while Chelsea have taken control of the group, leading it comfortably. Chelsea, comfortably beating West Ham 3-0 in their most recent league match, only need a draw to clinch a spot in the next round. Basel do lead the league in Switzerland, winning their last two matches, but being over zealous to find the net will result in a loss.
Steaua vs Schalke
Schalke haven’t been doing too well in the Bundesliga, but they have managed to climb to sixth, and need a win to clinch their place in the round of 16, unless Chelsea don’t beat Basel in Switzerland. Steaua aren’t a team good enough for the Champions League and these opponents, and they’ve failed to win in their last two league matches as well, falling to second place.
Arsenal vs Marseille
Marseille are back on the winning track after a rough stretch, beating Sochaux and Ajaccio. In the Champions League? They’ll probably remain with 0 points by the end of the evening, while Arsenal probably clinch their round of 16 spot with a win that won’t look too glorious.
Dortmund vs Napoli
The problems in the back have been crippling for Dortmund, who now are in a must win situation against a Napoli that’s recently been slipping in the league, losing two matches in a row. Due to their better position and shaky confidence, except a defensive performance from Napoli, resulting in a draw, which serves the visitors better.
Zenit vs Atletico Madrid
Atleti are already in the next round, clinching the top spot in the group, which means they won’t really have to give it their all while Zenit, who lead the league in Russia despite their disastrous form, will try and distance themselves away from Porto. Feels like a draw.
Porto vs Austria Wien
Easiest match to call, even if Porto have been struggling to pick up wins in recent weeks.
Ajax vs Barcelona
The problem for Ajax is that their is no second plan for them. Attacking football to the end, and against certain opponents, it just won’t work with sufficient quality. Barcelona shouldn’t have too many problems winning in what should be a very entertaining match.
Celtic vs AC Milan
The poor form Milan are coming in to this match with suggests that Celtic’s home form in European competition will be too much for the Italians, but Milan have no qualms about playing “ugly” football, which will result in a necessary draw for them.