- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On October 18, 2011
- 0 Comments
- 2011/12 UCL, Geoff Reid
By Geoff Reid
Napoli vs Bayern Munich from the Stadio San Paolo, Naples
The Italian hosts are currently the best side in Serie A, according to Bayern head coach Jupp Heynckes. He believes that Napoli do not play the traditional Italian way, and instead of setting up a side to be broken down and hit on the counter, they’re a team with a lot of attacking options and have shown that so far this season. In a match that so far looks like the two sides that will qualify from the group onto the knockout rounds, this should be one of the ties of the day. Napoli have had a very impressive start to the season, but on the weekend suffered a 2-1 home loss at the hands of Parma. Bayern on the other hand have had a blistering start in all competitions, and with impressive wins away to Villarreal, and at home against Manchester City, but will be without Dutchman Arjen Robben. The good news for the Bavarians is that Frank Ribery should be back after a calf problem.
Prediction: Napoli 2-2 Bayern Munich
Manchester City vs Villarreal from the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
With the drama of Carlos Tevez looking like it’s fully behind them, Manchester City will look to push on, and pick up their first win in the Champions League. Their European form has been vastly different from where they sit domestically being top of the English Premier League currently. With a 4-1 win over previously unbeaten Aston Villa on the weekend while resting some starters, and Mario Balotelli now in hot form, City will be looking to get ahead early in this one. The Spanish visitors however, are not in a good run of form, having only picked up two wins in their last 15 fixtures in all competitions going back to last season. If the time to turn things around is needed, the time is now.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Villarreal
CSKA Moscow vs Trabzonspor from the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
It’s not quite do-or-die for the Russians, but with only one point from their opening two games, it’s time to kick start their campaign at home against the surprise group leaders from Turkey. The next two matches will be key if they want to fulfill their dreams of getting to the knockout phase. If that happens, their defense has to improve after a 2-2 draw on the weekend to FC Terek which manager Leonid Slutski says was down to fatigue in not rotating his squad. While Senol Gunes should be pleased with his side’s start to this group, he seems very annoyed at his defense having given up two goals in a 3-2 win over the weekend and demands his back four must do better.
Prediction: CSKA 1-1 Trabzonspor
Lille vs Inter Milan from the Lille Metropole, Lille
In what is a very even group so far, Lille know that a win is the only that will do today in order to give them a little breathing room after two draws in their opening two games. Their stadium has become quite the fortress recently, and will be looking to continue that against the 2010 Champions. In the words of Inter manager Claudio Ranieri, Lille are “very prolific” and “the most prolific team in France.” The good news for the Italians is that playmaker Wesley Sneijder will return after a three week absence from the team, but Walter Samuel suffered a thigh injury on Saturday in the 2-1 loss away to Catania and will be out for two weeks.
Prediction: Lille 3-2 Inter Milan
Otelul Galati vs Manchester United from the National Arena, Bucharest
The big worry for the home side today is the Romanian champions will be outdone by the occasion hosting last season’s runners-up. Head coach Dorinel Munteanu says his side are well prepared and will give the Engish champions a good game, but in all honesty, they’re not expecting to get anything out of this game, having lost the first two in this group. Sir Alex Ferguson’s side are coming off a 1-1 draw away at arch rival Liverpool on Saturday, with many of the attacking players rested having been on the bench for that one. It was only in the second half that Javier Hernandez, Nani, and Wayne Rooney came on and got a vital goal to collect a point from Anfield. With this game in mind, these players should be fresh and ready to go.
Prediction: Galati 0-3 Manchester United
Basel vs Benfica from St. Jakob Park, Basel
The surprising factor? Both of these clubs are joint top of the group on four points. With Manchester United collecting two draws in their opening two games, both of these clubs will took to keep the momentum going before United start kicking into gear because they won’t be third for much longer. It should be a cracking atmosphere in Basel like it always is, and their 3-3 draw at Old Trafford on match day two has given the home side confidence in this group. Benfica on the other hand is wary of the home side, even after the change of manager with former gaffer Thorsten Fink moving onto manage Hamburg.
Prediction: Basel 1-2 Benfica
Real Madrid vs Lyon from the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
One thing Real manger Jose Mourinho has kept quiet is will he start Frenchman Karim Benzema, who has been out since picking up an injury in match day two, or in form Argentine hit man Gonzalo Huguain who has scored three hat-tricks in his last four games for club and country. He could potentially start with both, and the objective is to qualify as quickly as possible and sitting atop of the group on six points from their first two games it looks like that will happen. Lyon have been in this position so many times before, and are veterans of the Champions League, also having beaten Real Madrid in the Spanish capital in recent seasons. This should be a good one.
Prediction: Real Madrid 2-1 Lyon
Dinamo Zagreb vs Ajax from the Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb
With both sides not looking like they’ll reach the next round, the aim now must be the Europa League qualification. Dinamo Zagreb know if they’ll have any chance in this group, they need to collect points off Ajax, and maybe hope for the best against the other two and manager Krunoslav Jurcic has said as much. For Ajax, manager Frank de Boer has said this is a must win game having only collected a point from their first two matches. With a win, and a Lyon loss, the Dutch club will be right back in this group.
Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb 1-2 Ajax