After a night of surprises, the second half of this week’s Champions League dose continues with the always entertaining group of death; Real Madrid arrive in Germany to play against Borussia Dortmund while Ajax host Manchester City. Elsewhere, battered Milan play against a red hot Malaga team and the Paris Saint-Germain show arrives in Kyiv to play Dynamo.
Group A – Porto vs Dynamo Kyiv
Porto are off to another promising start both at home and in the Champions League, with Jackson Martinez and James Rodriguez doing most of the damage; Dynamo are struggling in the domestic league, currently only third, 12 points behind Shakhtar; they don’t do very well on away fixtures in the UCL. Porto should win this one.
Group A – Dinamo Zagreb vs PSG
Zagreb are consistently one of the worst teams in the history of the competition, yet to score a goal in the first two matches. PSG are a cautious away side, but after a slow start to the season, their advantage in quality is doing its thing in France, and it should be enough for another win in Croatia.
Group B – Arsenal vs Schalke
Arsenal are hitting that stage of the season when they realize that this squad is once again inferior to the two-three teams that actually spent enough money to win the Premier League, but their group stage form in the Champions League is rarely affected; Schalke come in to the match after a big derby win over Dortmund, but more than a draw at the Emirates will be surprising.
Group B – Montpellier vs Olympiakos
Two teams without a win in the competition this season. Montpellier’s league form, currently putting them at 16th in France, suggests that they might have a hard time beating Olympiakos, who are a perfect 7 for 7 in Greece. Still, their away form in Champions League matches is never something to be proud of, or to make them very confident.
Group C – Malaga vs Milan
In one of the most surprising twists you might have expected in the progress of European football, Milan head into their match against Malaga as underdogs. The only thing they got going for them is that their away form is a bit better than their home form this season. They haven’t won a league match since later September, and simply look depressed and depressing. Malaga play the most enjoyable style in the Champions League so far, and as long as Isco, Eliseu and Joaquin remain healthy, they are the real deal, and should win this match.
Group C – Zenit vs Anderlecht
Zenit are starting to pick up wins again after quite a bit of turmoil following the arrivals of Hulk and Axel Witsel, but Hulk is probably the best player in the Russian league at the moment and the quality in that team, once the social things settles down, is too much to continue to slump. Anderlecht simply don’t have the kind of talent in their squad to handle these kind of teams.
Group D – Dortmund vs Real Madrid
One of the most anticipated matches this season from the moment we knew the draw. One on hand, Dortmund’s home form could be better, failing to win in their last two matches, losing to Schalke in the derby and falling 12 points behind Bayern Munich. Something isn’t working in the yellow machine that swept through the Bundesliga over the last two years. On the other hand, big matches like this one can bring the best out of this team, that might be a bit more focused on the UCL this year. For Real Madrid, it’ll probably be a more cautious approach than usual, which suits their traits of speed in the attack just fine.
Group D – Ajax vs Manchester City
Ajax really haven’t played that bad up to this point, but have no points to show for it. Manchester City aren’t playing well, in the Premier League or the Champions League, but keep on winning in England and this is a must win game for them if they’re to stay in the qualification race. Dzeko in the starting lineup or not, they should win this match.