UEFA Champions League Previews

UEFA Champions League Previews

  • Posted by Geoff Reid
  • On September 28, 2011
  • 2011/12 UCL

By Geoff Reid

Group E
Valencia vs Chelsea from the Estadi de Mestalla, Valencia
The talking point in this one will be the return of former Valencia midfielder Juan Mata to the Mediterranean coast with his current side, Chelsea. Both of these sides are favored to qualify for the knockout phase of the tournament, so the home side expect to win this one, and manager Unai Emery has said as much, and expecting a sold out Mestalla will put the pressure on. Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas says his side are now refreshed, and motivated ahead of tonight’s match. The weekend’s 4-1 win over Swansea City had a whole host of changes to the starting 11, with players being rested for this match in mind, so the blues should field their strongest team available.
Prediction: Valencia 1-2 Chelsea

Bayer Leverkusen vs Genk from the Bay Arena, Leverkusen
These are two teams that should have a decent knowledge on one another having faced off during pre-season. The Bundesliga outfit are firm favorites in this one, and Leverkusen manager Robin Dutt admits this much. With the other game in this group being between the favorites, Bayer know they must win their home games to have any chance to upset the odds, and do believe they can finish second. The Belgian champions however will be no pushovers, and are confident of getting a result and upsetting the established order. After collecting a point in the first outing against Valencia, this group could be more open then anyone thought.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 Genk

Group F
Marseille vs Borussia Dortmund from the Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Marseille manager Didier Deschamps has bad memories playing against Dortmund as a player having been part of the Juventus team that lost the 1997 final 3-1 to the German side. His current side have not had a good start at all this season, but admits the squad must put league play to one side for tonight, and get a win on board against the Bundesliga champions. After beating Olympiakos in the opening match, a win tonight would do very well for the Mediterranean side. For Dortmund, this season hasn’t gone quite to plan as lasts, but after picking up a 2-1 away win at Mainz over the weekend, things are on the right track for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Prediction: Marseille 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

Arsenal vs Olympiakos from the Emirates Stadium, London
Arsene Wenger admits that his Arsenal side left the train station a little late to start this season, but is eager to find more consistency now that the new signings have had the chance to be bled in properly. Slowly but surely it looks as if the gunners are starting to get there finally, with a 3-0 home win against Bolton over the weekend evidence of that. For the Greeks, they understand they are the clear underdogs in this one, but are hoping to take advantage of an Arsenal side who have struggled this season. One statistic that is not on their side however is they have lost all nine away fixtures to English sides in the Champions League, a stat they aim to put right starting tonight.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-1 Olympiakos

Group G
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Porto from the Petrovski Stadium, St. Petersburg
Zenit manager Lucio Spalletti wants his side to kick start their campaign after a disappointing opening loss to APOEL. His side created chances and were a little unlucky, but mistakes ended up costing the Russian side. Porto themselves are annoyed at their result over the weekend drawing 2-2 with arch rival Benfica at home. Both sides should be playing with a chip on their shoulders in this one.
Prediction: Zenit St. Petersburg 1-2 Porto

Shakhtar Donetsk vs APOEL from the Donbass Arena, Donetsk
The home side have become quite the European force in recent seasons in this competition, but ended up on the losing end of a 2-1 scoreline away to Porto which is not what manager Mircea Lucescu wanted. The club see this game as a perfect opportunity to put that loss behind them and fix things from their opening game. The visitors are the Cyprus champions, and having upset Zenit in the opening match will not be afraid of anyone, which should make an interesting game for the neutrals.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 APOEL

Group H
AC Milan vs Viktoria Plzen from the San Siro, Milan
After opening this season’s Champions League campaign with a 2-2 away draw at the Camp Nou to defending champions Barcelona, Milan manager Massimo Allegri believes it will mean nothing if they don’t collect three points against the Czech minnows today. With all four teams in this group on one point each currently, this game matters and is very important. Pavel Vrba, the Plzen manager, is taking some inspiration from Napoli and Udinese after both clubs have already beaten Milan this season, so even though it will be one almighty task, the attitude in the Czech camp is why not?
Prediction: AC Milan 2-0 Viktoria Plzen

FC BATE Borisov vs Barcelona from the Dinamo Stadion, Minsk
Being very bold in his predictions, BATE manager Viktor Goncharenko is pulling out all the stops and says his side are only thinking about victory here when plotting the upset of the best team in the world currently. His squad has been preparing for this fixture the last 10 days, in what clearly is their biggest game in the club’s history so far. For the Catalans, Pep Guardiola acknowledges that the group stages of this competition can be very tricky and is totally different to the knockout phase, being that the mentality and approach is very different. Barcelona will be very disappointed with the draw against Milan to start their defense of the title, but the last two league games it looks as if the side have found their scoring touch again.
Prediction: FC BATE Borisov 0-3 Barcelona