- Posted by Geoff Reid
- On December 7, 2011
- 0 Comments
By Geoff Reid
Manchester City vs Bayern Munich from the Etihad Stadium, Manchester
Arguably the hardest group on paper when the groups were drawn, the visiting Bavarians may have thought they’d have a harder time in this section, but already on 13 points and undefeated, they’ve already wrapped up the group. That is the good news for Manchester City, who in their first Champions League campaign have made mistakes. The bad news is they have to rely on Villarreal, who have not picked up any points and have a -12 goal difference, to hold Napoli to at least a draw for City’s hopes of qualifying.
Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Bayern Munich
Villarreal vs Napoli from the Estadio El Madrigal, Villarreal
Napoli manager Walter Mazzarri is telling his players not to worry about events elsewhere, and just to concentrate on the job in hand in Spain. It’s quite amazing the progress the Naples side has made over the last few seasons, and if they can get through to the knockout phase of the Champions League, it will be one massive step taken. For Villarreal, they have only managed four wins in their last 25 games dating back to May 8th in all competitions, so the odds of them getting a result here, as well as giving younger players a chance like manager Juan Carlos Garrido has said, looks very slim. Napoli should end up finishing in second place, while the citizens from Manchester will end up playing in the Europa League in the new year.
Prediction: Villarreal 1-3 Napoli
Lille vs Trabzonspor from the Lille Metropole, Lille
Class this as the Group B cup final with the winner qualifying in 2nd behind Inter Milan, but a draw could also let CSKA Moscow in to 2nd if they can get a result against the Italian giants in the group’s other match. Both of these sides are competing in the tournament for the first time, and while some other groups have been tight due to big teams being in them, this one has also been tight and panned out the way many thought would; going down to the last day to decide the fate of the group.
Prediction: Lille 2-3 Trabzonspor
Inter Milan vs CSKA Moscow from the San Siro, Milan
With qualification already wrapped up, Claudio Ranieri’s Inter will be looking to play spoiler which was expected from the start of the group stages. The former Chelsea manager has said that he intends to win the game, even though it’s meaningless from his team’s point of view. What will be interesting is CSKA haven’t played in two weeks due to the Russian Premiera Liga going on winter break at the end of November, but as Russian sides have shown us all over the last few seasons, they are no pushovers and have competed well in European competition.
Prediction: Inter Milan 1-1 CSKA Moscow
Basel vs Manchester United from St. Jakob Park, Basel
In what has turned out to be a tighter group then all of us expected, everything has come down to the final matches. The home side believe not only are they playing for themselves, but for the whole of Swiss football since they were tipped to get third place behind the visitors from Manchester, and Benfica. The fact that they managed a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford is amazing in itself. Sir Alex Ferguson is relying on his players experience over the years to get his side through to the knockout phase. The atmosphere in St. Jakob Park should be cracking.
Prediction: Basel 1-2 Manchester United
Benfica vs Otelul Galati from the Estadio do Sport Lisboa, Lisbon
The Portuguese side have already secured their passage to the last 16, but they will want to finish top. Benfica have had a good season so far, but they suffered a set back this past weekend suffering their first defeat of the season 2-1 away to Maritimo in the fifth round of the Portuguese Cup. Galati have not collected a single point in their Champions League debut so far, so the odds of them getting a result in Lisbon is unlikely, which will mean Manchester United will have to win in Switzerland to conform their place in the knockout round.
Prediction: Benfica 2-0 Otelul Galati
Dinamo Zagreb vs Lyon from the Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb
With the home side already out, the eyes on this one will be on Remi Garde and his Lyon players who has openly admitted that everything has to go their way in order to qualify from Group D. Of course the only thing they can do is concentrate on their task in hand, and that is to score as many goals as possible, and then hope for the best in the other match in the group. Over the last number of years, Lyon have had some amazing results in the Champions League and experience may prove key.
Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb 0-3 Lyon
Ajax vs Real Madrid from the Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam
The Dutch champions just need one point from this final game to progress to the knockout phase, and it’s been far too long for Ajax since they were last competing against the top sides for the European Cup. The problem is this game is being overshadowed by the bitter boardroom battle between Dutch great Johan Cryuff and former manager Louis van Gaal. Real Madrid already confirmed their place, and with the small matter of a weekend match vs Barcelona to look forward to, manager Jose Mourinho should be using a lot of young players and resting their usual starters.
Predictions: Ajax 2-2 Real Madrid