- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On November 1, 2011
- 0 Comments
- 2011/12 UCL
By Geoff Reid
Valencia vs Bayer Leverkusen from the Mestalla, Valenica
The home side are in a tough position with only two points taken from three games so far in the group and currently sit in third place four points behind their opponents who sit in second place. However, manager Unai Emery believes his side will win and potentially blow the group wide open. The consequences of losing though would probably end up knocking the Spanish club out of the competition. Bayer manager Robin Dutt is saying the same thing to his squad, and knows this time his players must defend set pieces better after Valencia caused them a lot of problems in their previous game. Both sides warmed up to this tie with wins over the weekend.
Prediction: Valencia 2-1 Bayer Leverkusen
Genk vs Chelsea from the KRC Genk Arena, Genk
Today, Genk could also be eliminated if results go against them, but manager Mario Been has been trying to keep things positive in the training sessions, and to enjoy the home match against Chelsea. When both sides met two weeks ago, the west London side ended up winning 5-0. The home side haven’t been in the best of form as of late, but with their 5-4 victory away to Club Brugge on the weekend, confidence should be high. Chelsea on the other hand are coming off two successive league defeats to London opponents, and questions are piling up about the back line for Andre Villas-Boas and his club. This could potentially have a lot of goals from both sides.
Prediction: Genk 1-4 Chelsea
Arsenal vs Marseille from the Emirates Stadium, London
This clash will be interesting to see as both clubs top the group with Arsenal on seven points, while Marseille have six. With the other two sides in the group on one and two points, a win for either side could see them wrap up a place in the knockout round. The home side are in a rich vein of form currently, and especially after topping Chelsea 5-3 on the weekend, Arsene Wenger’s men have their swagger back. Marseille on the other hand are a team that seem to be better suited playing away from home then actually at home with the counter attacking style. They are also in form having won three on the bounce domestically, so their season is finally starting to turn around.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Marseille
Borussia Dortmund vs Olympiakos from the BVB Stadion, Dortmund
The reigning German champions have not had it easy this season domestically or in Europe, and with only one point from three matches, Dortmund know this is a must win game if they’re to have any chance of progressing to the next round. Manager Jurgen Klopp points out rightly that they have been their worst enemies in the competition so far making silly mistakes, but it’s a vital part in his young side maturing. The visitors from Greece on the other hand believe they also need to win to keep with the pace of the other two teams in the group to bolster their chances of progression.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Olympiakos
Zenit St. Petersburg vs Shakhtar Donetsk from the Petrovski Stadion, St. Petersburg
In what has turned out to be one of the more even groups of the tournament, first and last place are only separated by three points, and these two clubs by just two points. Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti is looking forward to locking horns against his opposite number today, Mircea Lucescu. Zenit themselves are unbeaten in all competitions since their match day one defeat to APOEL. Shakhtar will have a difficult time being that three key defenders are out injured; Fernandinho, Jadson, and Dmyto Chygrynsky, but lucescu is hopeful their luck will start to turn.
Prediction: Zenit St. Petersburg 3-1 Shakhtar Donetsk
APOEL vs Porto from the GSP Stadium, Nicosia
No doubt the surprise package of the competition so far this season has been the play of the Cyprus champions APOEL topping the group at the half way stage. Manager Ivan Jovanovic says his side do not feel pressure ahead of this tie, but motivation playing in front of their home crowd, and with another three points available, could go a long way in seeing a historic achievement become reality with qualification to the knockout rounds. Porto themselves are only a point behind in a very tight group, so the outcome of this one will be very interesting to see.
Prediction: APOEL 1-1 Porto
BATE vs AC Milan from the Dinamo Stadion, Minsk
In what has been one of the more predictable groups, the day’s visitors sit atop with seven points, and the hosts are joint bottom on just one point. In their last outing, BATE got destroyed by the defending champions Barcelona 5-0, and manager Viktor Goncharenko will be hoping for a much better performance from his team. After their slow start to the season, Milan have hit a good run of form having won five in a row in all competitions, and will be looking to stretch their lead in the group to get to the knockout phase.
Prediction: BATE 0-4 AC Milan
Plzen vs Barcelona from Eden, Prague
It’s been a tough start for the Czech champions Plzen in the Champions League, and manager Pavel Vrba says he will be satisfied with at least a point in this contest, as long as he sees an improvement on their 2-0 loss to the Catalans in Camp Nou. For Barcelona themselves, this will mark Pep Guardiola’s 200th match in charge, and in typical Guardiola fashion, only a win will do, and guarantee them a place in the last 16.
Prediction: Plzen 0-3 Barcelona