- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On November 23, 2011
- 1 Comments
By Geoff Reid
Valencia vs Genk from the Mestalla, Valencia
In what looks to be a tighter group then expected, Valencia know that three points at home against Genk are a must if they want to control their own destiny before the final match day of the group, and qualify for the last 16. The previous meeting between the two sides in Belgium ended in a draw, and both sides cannot afford the same result this time out. Over the weekend, Valencia lost their first game at home this season to Real Madrid 3-2, which ended their 4 match winning streak. For Genk, anything but a win will mean they won’t have a chance to qualify for the next round, but the Europa League is still a possibility.
Prediction: Valencia 3-1 Genk
Bayer Leverkusen vs Chelsea from the Bay Arena, Leverkusen
Both of these sides sit top of the group, and both will be eying their pace in the last 16. Chelsea are top on eight points, while Bayer are second on six and a win for both is what they’re looking for to cement themselves atop of the group before match day six. The home side are rising up the Bundesliga table, unlike their counterparts from west London. However, manager Robin Dutt isn’t taking that for granted, and fully expects his team to win. For Chelsea, the home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday was a massive blow, but putting it right in the Rheinland can certainly begin to turn the corner for Andre Villas-Boas.
Prediction: Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Chelsea
Marseille vs Olympiakos from the Stade Velodrome, Marseille
Depending on how things go, if Marseille collect more points then Borussia Dortmund do in the other group match, the Mediterranean side can qualify for the next phase with one match left. Manager Didier Deschamps however is not worrying about what isn’t in his team’s control. The 1-0 loss away to Montpellier over the weekend was not of too much concern because focus was more so on this game. Olympiakos on the other hand know that if they don’t win, they have no chance of qualification for the knockout rounds, so today is their final, and they will play to win.
Prediction: Marseille 2-0 Olympiakos
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund from the Emirates Stadium, London
These two teams have nearly mirrored each other in how slow they started domestically, and have now hit top form in just the right time on all fronts. If this one ends in a draw, Arsenal will be through which would be just fine by Arsene Wenger after the poor start they had. Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp believes the gunners won’t play for a draw because it’s not their style, and he’s right. For the German champions, it’s now or never, and a must win before their final game against Marseille.
Prediction: Arsenal 3-2 Borussia Dortmund
Zenit St. Petersburg vs APOEL from the Petrovski Stadion, St. Petersburg
There is no doubt about it, the Cyprus champions APOEL have been the surprise package of the Champions League so far this season, and all they need is one point today to advance to the knockout round for the first time in history if Porto fail to beat Shakhtar Donetsk. Zenit themselves sit one point below in second place on seven points, and Luciano Spaletti’s squad know they must win today to try and distance themselves from Porto and if they’re going to do that they need to find the right balance between attack and defense.
Prediction: Zenit St. Petersburg 1-1 APOEL
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Porto from the Donbass Arena, Donetsk
It’s been a strange change of events with these two sides originally favored to take the top two spots in the group and advance, and it hasn’t happened so far. The hosts currently sit bottom of the group on two points, and it’s do or die for Shakhtar today so only a win will do for the home side. Porto sit in third place on four points, and they know the circumstances. After getting beat in the Portuguese cup this past weekend, Vitor Pereira’s side need to bounce back quickly if they want to take it to match day six before deciding their fate in this season’s tournament.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-2 Porto
BATE vs Plzen from the Dinamo Stadion, Minsk
In what will be a match to go a long way in deciding who will finish third and take that Europa League spot, both sides have struggled in their Champions League debuts this season, and honestly anyone would do being placed in the same group as Barcelona and AC Milan. It’s the home side BATE that hold third place on two points, and a win would solidify third place for them. The visiting Czech champions however, know they must go for broke and play aggressive, it is after all what made them Czech champions last season.
Prediction: BATE 2-2 Plzen
AC Milan vs Barcelona from the San Siro, Milan
With both sides already through to the knockout rounds, the only thing left to play for is who will finish first and second, and who will get seeded before the draw. The big story in this one is Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic playing against his old club from Catalonia. Barcelona currently sit top on 10 points, and a win will give them first place in the group, but Milan have picked up their game in the last few weeks after a slow start, so as predicted on paper, this one should turn out to be a good, entertaining match.
Prediction: AC Milan 2-3 Barcelona