The second night of Champions League football, which includes eight matches from groups E to H, puts the group of death with Marseille vs Arsenal and Napoli vs Dortmund at the center of attention, while the ‘classic’ group featuring Barcelona vs Ajax and AC Milan vs Celtic should be quite interesting as well.
Chelsea open what should be an easy qualifying campaign at home against FC Basel, a team they beat last season in the Europa League, while Atletico Madrid mark their return to the competition with a home match against Zenit.
Chelsea vs Basel
Despite the return of Jose Mourinho, it hasn’t been a smooth start for the ‘happy one’ as Chelsea have failed to score on their last two matches (both away), not to mention losing their last one. Still, hosting Basel they should be able to have that easy start to the group stage they’re looking for, as Basel haven’t been exactly lighting it up on the domestic front with three wins from their first seven matches.
Schalke vs Steaua
Despite their so-so start to the season, which saw them barely make it past PAOK in the playoffs or win only two matches out of five in the Bundesliga, Schalke are huge favorites to come away with the win against the Romanian champions, who have won four of five in Liga 1 to start off the season.
Marseille vs Arsenal
Marseille invested a lot of money by bringing in mostly young French talent this season, and have started off with 10 points from their first five matches this season. However, it won’t be enough to keep up with PSG and Monaco, while it won’t be enough to beat a very confident Arsenal team that has won six matches in a row, and should come away with the three points once more.
Napoli vs Dortmund
Two teams that have enjoyed perfect starts to the season in their respective leagues, but Dortmund are the better side, with a lot more cohesion and continuity compared to last season. However, the San Paolo is a special venue on a European night, and it should give the home side enough of a boost to manage a draw against the hottest team in Europe right now.
AC Milan vs Celtic
Anything Celtic do on the local front is not an indication to how they’ll do in the Champions League, which will be defend like mad when they’re away from home and feed off energy from the crowd to be a bit more daring at Celtic Park. The real problem for Milan is the lack of talent and creativity in their midfield, which makes it a very likely 0-0 or 1-1 match that will increase the pressure on Allegri.
Barcelona vs Ajax
Ajax don’t usually do too well at the beginning of seasons, and this year is no different with three wins out of the first six matches in the league, not to mention losing Christian Eriksen. With the Dane, they might have had a chance to do something in the group, but without him, they’ll easily lose at the Nou Camp to Barcelona and struggle to finish above third.
Atletico Madrid vs Zenit
Atletico are red hot in the Spanish La Liga, while Zenit are currently second in Russia with five wins from their first eight matches. Atletico aren’t an experienced bunch when it comes to Europe’s premier competition, but Zenit don’t do well in it when they do get there, so it shouldn’t be a factor, unlike quality, and Atletico have plenty of it; enough to come away with the win.
Austria Wien vs Porto
Porto, as expected, are off to a perfect start in Portugal, having no problems replacing the departing James Rodriguez and Joao Mourinho. They’ve conceded only one goal in four matches, making them big favorites as they visit Vienna against a side that’s won only three times from their first 8 matches in the Bundesliga, and are making their Champions League debut.