A week that brings us the bigger matches, at least on paper, in the group stage, with the number one and two seeded teams clashing. This means Arsenal and Dortmund, the two best teams in the group of death, playing in London, while the classic yet less evened out match between Milan and Barcelona at the San Siro will surely draw plenty of attention.
There’s also Cheslea, hoping their winning ways from the league continue, visiting the very injured ranks of Schalke, while Atletico Madrid, 2-for-2 so far in the Champions League, will hope that their first loss of the season in the league won’t affect them here.
Schalke vs Chelsea
Even though Schalke are the only perfect team in this group, it’s hard to say they’re favorites for this match, especially with Jefferson Farfan not playing. Chelsea’s only potential problem might be Ashley Cole, still doubtful for the match. Schalke are in good form of late, winning their last two Bundesliga matches, and with Chelsea winning but not playing well, a draw seems like the most likely solution.
Steaua vs Basel
An excellent start to the season for Steaua doesn’t really change the fact that they’re clearly out of their depth in the Champions League, especially in this group. Basel are in excellent league form as well, and are a side that’s built to play better, at least in Europe, when they’re away from home, and should come up with the win in Bucharest.
Arsenal vs Dortmund
THE match of the week, as the gunners, leading the Premier League and doing it with style, face off against the joint leaders in Germany. Dortmund aren’t winning in the same way they’ve done earlier this season, but when their lineup is healthy, they’re one of the top 5 sides in Europe, something Arsenal still haven’t proven they belong to get in. With Dortmund being an excellent counter attacking team, this is going to be a lot more difficult for the gunners compared to their win over Napoli, and a draw won’t be very surprising.
Marseille vs Napoli
Two teams not arriving in the best of form, as Marseille have lost their last two league matches, while Napoli are also rebounding from their loss in Rome and handling badly the famous Rafa Benitez rotation. If Gonzalo Higuain doesn’t start again, Napoli have no chance of winning.
Austria Wien vs Atletico Madrid
The home side have one point, but they’ve won only one match out of their last five in the Bundesliga, while Atletico Madrid won’t be too shaken up by losing to Espanyol and missing out on a chance to lead the league in Spain. Too much quality gap and experience between the two sides, as Atletico shall win for a third time in the competition this season.
FC Porto vs Zenit
As expected, both teams are doing quite well in Portugal and Russia, leading the league. Zenit have a Portuguese star, Danny, to lead them with nine goals so far. In Porto it’s Jackson Martinez doing most of the damage wit 7 goals this season. As tradition usually dictates in meetings between second-tier teams in groups they have no chance of winning, the home side usually comes out with the 3 points.
AC Milan vs Barcelona
Milan finally won a league match, beating Udinese 1-0. However, this team isn’t at the tactical level we saw from the Rossoneri last year in the round of 16 when they faced Barcelona. The Catalans are probably going to put Lionel Messi back in the lineup but with the Clasico waiting for them four days later, it won’t be surprising to see them playing a slower, more cautious style in this one, not feeling too bad about a draw.
Celtic vs Ajax
Ajax are rebounding from a very slow start to the season in both competitions, while Celtic, due to the very weak rivals they have in the SPL, have to yet again make a major adjustment in terms of style and set of mind. Celtic Park isn’t as enchanting when Barcelona don’t come to play, and Ajax shouldn’t find it too difficult to pick up their first win in the competition.