Week 2 of the Champions League begins with matches in group E to H; Barcelona visiting Glasgow to play Celtic takes center stage considering the drama of last season in the same encounter, although the highest quality match should be Napoli travelling to London to play Arsenal.
Other intriguing matches should be Chelsea’s attempt to pick up their first points of the competition in Romania, while the red hot Atletico Madrid play another undefeated team in Porto.
FC Basel vs Schalke
The leaders of the group meet in Basel, as Schalke are coming off their 3-0 win over Steaua but without a win in the Bundesliga for the last couple of weeks, drawing against Hoffenheim and losing at home to Bayern Munich. Basel, on the other hand, are doing quite well, leading the Swiss league, winning two of their last three. Considering Schalke’s poor form, a draw seems likely in this one.
Steaua vs Chelsea
Steaua have had a fine start to the league campaign, winning six of the first seven matches, including a 3-0 win over Timisoara last weekend. Even if Chelsea’s form is poor, drawing 1-1 at Tottenham and being in a must-win situation when travelling to Romania, the differences between the sides are too great, and the Europa League title holders will come away with the win.
Arsenal vs Napoli
Gonzalo Higuain comes to play against the team he looked very likely to sign for earlier this summer. Napoli have had a fine start to the season, inlcuding a 2-0 win over Genoa last weekend with a brace from Goran Pandev. However, Arsenal are playing some fantastic football at the moment, and if Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud are fit for the match, it should be another win for the gunners.
Dortmund vs Marseille
Dortmund are in trouble due to the suspensions to their goalkeeper and their head coach, but their form in the Bundesliga, which included a 5-0 win over Freiburg last weekend and some brilliant football from Marco Reus, should be too much for the visitors from France, who are doing quite well in France (3rd, behind Monaco and PSG), but haven’t been looking like the most convincing of sides.
Zenit vs Austria Wien
Zenit are weaker than they were last season, but despite their 3-1 loss at Atletico Madrid in the previous round, are a much stronger team than the Austrian champions. Zenit are doing very well in the Russian Premier League, leading the table after a bit 4-2 win over Spartak Moscow, with Danny scoring 8 goals in the competition up till now. In Austria, the visitors have won only four matches out of the opening 10, losing to Admira Wacker on their most recent away match.
Porto vs Atletico Madrid
It’s hard to find two teams coming in so high on confidence at the moment; Porto are leading the league in Portugal following a 1-0 win over Vitoria, and are still undefeated this season. Atletico Madrid are tied for the lead in Spain with the red hot Diego Costa winning the match against Real Madrid. However, Porto haven’t been convincing in their form, and Atletico should have the edge in this one.
Ajax vs AC Milan
Ajax are still adjusting to life without Christian Eriksen, but they always have slow starts to the season, and rebounded well against Go Ahead Eagles with a 6-0 win, putting them one point behind the leaders in the Netherlands. Milan are struggling to do anything when Mario Balotelli isn’t involved, so far only 9th in the Serie A. A draw seems like the likeliest of outcomes.
Celtics vs Barcelona
Last year’s victory is still something Celtics fans dream about at night, but it won’t happen again. Even without Lionel Messi, Barcelona are heavily favored to withstand whatever Celtic throw at them, which shouldn’t be much considering that despite their recent 5-2 win at Kilmarnock, they haven’t looked very impressive in the SPL.