- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On September 14, 2011
- 0 Comments
By Geoff Reid
Manchester City vs Napoli from the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
This is going to be a special match for both clubs, as it’s the first time they have both taken part in the European Cup in many, many years, and the first time under the reformed Champions League. Of course the budget that the hosts have is far superior then their counterparts from southern Italy, but nevertheless the occasion should not phase the side from Serie A. For City, the start to the season has been incredible, and will look to keep up the momentum tonight. Napoli themselves are coming off a 3-1 away win against Cesena, so confidence will be very high amongst this group of players. Expect a very entertaining game.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Napoli
Villarreal vs Bayern Munich from the Estadio el Madrigal, Villarreal
Most certainly the group of death, this contest should also prove to be a very entertaining match. The hosts in-particularly could be one of the sleeper sides in this season’s tournament if things go their way in this group. They will be nobody’s favorites to win, and that’s okay because they haven’t really been the last few seasons. Coming off a 2-2 draw on the weekend against Sevilla, the yellow submarine will be lead on the front line by New Jersey born Giuseppe Rossi and hoping he can get behind the Bayern defense who has been slow and shaky over the last few seasons. For the Bavarians, they are coming off a 7-0 drubbing of Freiburg, and will not be short on confidence. As mentioned, the problem has never been about scoring goals, it’s been conceding them. With some new signings this offseason, that part of the problem should be somewhat improved.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-2 Bayern Munich
Lille vs CSKA Moscow from the Lille Metropole, Lille
In what should be one of the more tighter groups, the French champions kick off their European campaign against the Russians with pundits saying they’re one of the favorites to qualify out of the group. Manager Rudi Garcia is not buying it,saying that CSKA, and Turkish champions Trabzonspor are both worthy clubs of being here. Lille are coming off a 3-1 away in at St. Etienne with new signing Joe Cole coming off the bench and setting up one of the goals. The Russian side however are coming off a 4-0 defeat to city rivals Dynamo Moscow which obviously isn’t good. They have a lot of injured players, and it looks to be taking it’s toll on the squad.
Prediction: Lille 2-0 CSKA Moscow
Inter Milan vs Trabzonspor from the San Siro, Milan
The 2009/10 winners have not gotten off to the best of starts domestically by losing 4-3 away to Palermo over the weekend, however, this is only the second competitive game of the season due to the players strike in Italy. Manager Piero Gasperini just thinks it’s trying to iron out the small details and shake the rust out of the squad that has clear quality in there with players like Wesley Sneijder, and new signing Diego Forlan replacing the outgoing Samuel Eto’o. Both players combined nicely for the Uruguayan’s first goal in Italian football. For the Turkish side, a 1-1 draw against Manisaspor in league play over the weekend might not have been the best preparation, but most eyes were on this game anyway, so with both sides in a little transition phase incorporating new coaches, and players it should be a good one.
Prediction: Inter Milan 3-0 Trabzonspor
Basel vs Otelul Galati from St. Jakob Park, Basel
Both of these sides are hoping to cause some upsets in this season’s competition, with second place looking like it’s up for grabs behind Manchester United. The Swiss champions have been here before a few times, and understand what the Champions League is all about. They are in fact a very confident group right now having beaten Servette 4-0 away from home warming up for this one. Manager Thorsten Fink believes his side can stay in European competition beyond the winter, either in this tournament or the Europea League which will be classed as a success for this club. For Otelul, they haven’t been in good form as of late, with a 4-0 defeat at home to CFR Cluj, and are the favorites to get the wooden spoon in this group.
Prediction: Basel 2-0 Otelul Galati
Benfica vs Manchester United from the Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon
The Portuguese side are undaunted by the opposition they face today, as they are also veterans of the Champions League, and manager Jorge Jesus believes this competition is the goal for any player to reach, and should embrace the occasion. While both clubs are the favorites to get out of this group, both managers don’t believe it will be that easy. United manager Sir Alex Ferguson likes the current format of the tournament, playing against the best sides in the world. His team are on a tare right now just coming off a 5-0 thumping of Bolton Wanderers this past weekend.
Prediction: Benfica1-4 Manchester United
Dinamo Zagreb vs Real Madrid from the Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb
The home side are ending a 12 year absence from the Champions League, and plan to surprise the Spanish giants in this encounter. They will have their work cut out for them in this group, and are expected to finish bottom come December. They do however have a very good record in all competitions this season with the only defeat coming against Malmo in the Champions League qualifiers. For the galaticos, their coming off a 4-2 home win against Getafe at the weekend, and while they admit they don’t know much about Dinamo, playing in front of their home crowd in this tournament for a long time means they’ll have to be at their best to win here tonight.
Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Real Madrid
Ajax vs Lyon from the Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
The Dutch champions are expected to qualify from this group, at least in their minds, and manager Frank de Boer is curious to see how his side compares against Lyon, who have played in this tournament for many seasons. Almost looking at this match as a measuring stick, de Boer knows his side must get three points tonight and at home to have a chance get getting to the last 16 in the new year. For Lyon, manager Remi Garde knows how Ajax will play, as they’ve had the same style and principles for many years now, and it’s all about how his side will counter the attacking play that has made Ajax famous for so many years.
Prediction: Ajax 2-2 Lyon