- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On September 27, 2011
- 1 Comments
- 2011/12 UCL, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
Bayern Munich vs Manchester City from the Allianz Arena, Munich
No question, this is the match of the day with the Bavarian giants, who have had a fantastic start to this season both domestically and on the continent, against the blue half of Manchester. In what is the toughest group on paper, this group should come right down to the wire on the final match day before the knockout stages. Bayern couldn’t have started better with an away win against Villarreal in the first game and are the early pace setters. City on the other hand completed a tense 1-1 draw at home against Napoli where both sides looked a little nervous making their Champions League bows. This one should be more open, particularly in the second half.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-2 Manchester City
Napoli vs Villarreal from the Stadio San Paolo, Naples
Both these sides met last season in the Europa League with Napoli getting the better of the two. This time it should be a little different however, with Napoli’s players having a little bit more experience of playing in European competition under their belt. One problem the home side are facing are injuries to key players such as Marco Donadel, Miguel Biritos, Blerim Dzemaili, and Christian Maggio. The club has stated this competition is more important then Serie A, and with a 0-0 home draw to Fiorentina over the weekend, it was obvious. For the visiting Spanish side, Italian international and New Jersey born Giuseppe Rossi is a doubt for this one after picking up a knee injury during their 1-1 draw against Athletic Club on the weekend. It will be interesting to see how both sides cope with a few injuries to players.
Prediction: Napoli 2-1 Villarreal
CSKA Moscow vs Inter Milan from the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
The big talking point ahead of this one is Inter picking up their first win of the season under new manager Claudio Ranieri after Gian Piero Gasperini was fired following four losses and one draw in the first five games of the season. Have they turned the corner? It’s far too early to tell, and some will argue whether Gasperini even had a fair chance in the first place to get his ideas across. The home side do have injury troubles of their own, so it’s hard to predict the outcome of this one.
Prediction: CSKA 0-1 Inter Milan
Trabzonsbor vs Lille from the Huseyin Avni Aker, Trabzon
It’s a historic night for Trabzonspor because they are hosting their first ever Champions League game, and after coming off a 1-0 win at the San Siro against Inter two weeks ago, confidence is sky high at the moment for Senol Gunes’ side. So far in this group, the predictions on paper have gone out the window and could be some more surprises. With Lille drawing at home to CSKA a fortnight ago, everything is up for grabs here, and the French champions haven’t got off to the best of starts this season in all competitions, but their is plenty of time to put that right.
Prediction: Trabzonsbor 1-1 Lille
Otelul Galati vs Benfica from the National Arena, Bucharest
The Romanian champions are under no illusion being favorites to finish last in this group, but manager Dorinel Munteanu has special memories playing against Portuguese opposition having been part of the Dinamo Bucharest squad that knocked out Sporting Lisbon in the 1991 UEFA Cup. With a 2-1 opening loss away to Basel in Switzerland, Galati fully believe they can get something out of this game. For the Portuguese, Benfica collected what they class as a fair point at home against last season’s runners up Manchester United. They are also coming off a 2-2 away draw to rivals Porto in league play, so confidence should be good in this group.
Prediction: Galati 0-2 Benfica
Manchester United vs Basel from Old Trafford, Manchester
The red half of Manchester are already setting their sights on the final this season in Munich, and with how kind the draw was to the club, they should be able to get through this group without much trouble. Sir Alex Ferguson is short on his top two strikers with Wayne Rooney, and Javier Hernandez both ruled out through injury, so this should give Bulgarian hit man Dimitar Berbatov a chance alongside Michael Owen. Basel got off to a good start winning their first game at home against Galati on match day one, and while they aren’t expected to get anything out of this game, this is a club that have had some of the top young Swiss players come through the ranks over the last 11 years.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-0 Basel
Lyon vs Dinamo Zagreb from the Stade de Gerland, Lyon
With the French side drawing 1-1 away to Ajax in the opening match, Lyon manager Remi Grade feels that result will all go to waste if his side does not pick up the victory tonight against Dinamo. They’ve had a great start already in Ligue 1 collecting 17 points from eight matches so far, which is an improvement on the eight they collected at this stage last season. Expect Dinamo, who are competing in the Champions League for the first time in 12 years, to play their own game and try and impose their style on the final outcome. The club also has a decent record in France, last playing a competitive game against Stade Rennais in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup drawing 1-1.
Prediction: Lyon 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Real Madrid vs Ajax from the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Ajax gave up six goals in total against Real Madrid in last season’s group stages, and if the players are scared like they were then, it could potentially be a massacre according to manager Frank de Boer. Of course this squad is one year older and while some players have moved on, the core is still together. The Amsterdam side are coming off a 1-1 home draw against league rivals Twente, which isn’t the best preparation going against the galacticos from Madrid. The home side are coming off a 6-2 trouncing of Rayo Vallecano, who are newly promoted to La Liga.
Prediction: Real Madrid 4-2 Ajax