The second night of the Champions League features groups E-H, including the match in focus, as European champions Chelsea host the returning Juventus, undefeated in 42 straight matches in Italy. Finalists Bayern open the year at home against Valencia, just like Barcelona, with an easy opener at home against Spartak Moscow.
Group E – Shakhtar Donetsk vs Nordsjælland
The Danes, who won their first ever league title last season, following two consecutive Danish Cup victories and some Europa League experience, haven’t had the best of starts in the league, currently ranked third behind FC Copenhagen and AaB. Shakhtar, who have won the Championship the last three seasons are perfect so far in the league this season, 9 wins in 9 matches, led by a red hot Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Should be an easy one for the home side.
Group E – Chelsea vs Juventus
The last time Juventus made it into the knockout stage in the Champions League, it was Chelsea who knocked them out, back in 2009. The Italian champions make their return to the big stage after two years on the sidelines, so far handling the second season syndrome well, winning the first three Serie A matches, keeping their undefeated streak (42 matches) alive. Chelsea have been winning (10 points from 12) but haven’t been playing very well.
Group F – Lille vs BATE Borisov
After two consecutive seasons of losing their best player to richer clubs, Lille are beginning to stutter, winning only one match from the opening five in Ligue 1. BATE, making their third appearance in the Champions League, might be a bit troublesome to Rudi Garcia’s side, and a draw isn’t out of the question.
Group F – Bayern Munich vs Valencia
For Bayern, winning back the league title after two consecutive Dortmund championships is probably the main goal for this season, but they’ve also been to two of the last three UCL finals, losing them both. A few expensive tweaks here and there (Javi Martinez, Mandzukic), and they’re favorites once again. Valencia haven’t been off to the best of starts in Spain (5 point from 12), and shouldn’t impress to much against a much better side.
Group G – Barcelona vs Spartak Moscow
Spartak, under new manager Unai Emery make the group stage of the Champions League for the second time in three seasons, but shouldn’t pose any kind of problem to Barcelona, who have won their first four league matches with a +9 goal difference. Anything but a big win for Barca should be a huge surprise.
Group G – Celtic vs Benfica
Long gone are the days when Celtic were a consistent and hard to beat Champions League side. They haven’t fallen like Rangers, but Celtic are not even leading the SPL, five matches into the new season, winning only 8 points from a possible 15. Benfica are off to a good start after another second place finish last year, co-leading the league with Porto. They should come out with at least a draw from this away fixture.
Group H – Manchester United vs Galatasaray
After an opening day loss at Everton, United are back on the winning track with three consecutive victories, and an approach to the Champions League that should be different than the arrogant one they took last season, with a few new players to prevent the group stage debacle from happening again. For Gala, it’s been a promising start to the season in Turkey, winning 10 points from a possible 12, but they won’t comeback with any from Old Trafford.
Group H – Braga vs Cluj
This is the second time for Braga in the Champions League, hoping to make it as memorable (third place finish) as it was two seasons ago, if not better, with a good chance of finishing behind United when it’s all said and done. They’ve won only one match from the opening three in the league, but that’s too few to indicate anything. This is Cluj’s third UCL group stage appearance, but it hasn’t been the best of starts for them in Romania, falling behind Steaua (6 points) after 8 league matches. Braga will probably be too good for them in the opening match.