Ahead of week 4 of the Champion's league HITC's Rana Malook reviews all the fixtures and predicts a shock defeat for one of the European big wigs.
For football fans all over the World the UEFA Champion's league is like Christmas, Diwali, Eid, Hannukkah and any other joyous festival all rolled into one. In fact one could argue it's better since it comes around more often. The footballing carnival is upon us once again as the competition serves up more delicious encounters for us all to sink our teeth into. Below is the menu on offer today, and a short description of possible ingrediants involved.
Real Sociedad vs Manchester United
A shock defeat on the cards for United.
Real Sociedad have their backs against the wall being bottom of the group and know nothing but a win will suffice. They also come into the game brimming with confidence having thumped Osasuna 5-0 at the weekend. Manchester United will be without Johnny Evans and Rafael, both being ruled out with injury.
Manchester City vs CSKA Moscow
A comfortable win for City a respectable hypothesis
Bayern Munich gave the blues a harsh but fair lesson in Champion’s league football just over a month ago. It appeared to be just what the doctor ordered as they’ve since gone on to win 5 out of their 6 games. With the likes of David Silva and Sergio Aguero in sublime form it’ll be a tough night for the Moscow defence.
Shaktar Donetsk vs Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen might sneak an away win
Such was the importance of this game, Leverkusen coach and ex Liverpool stalwart Sammy Hyppia rested most of his 1st XI and lost the game at the weekend as a result. However Sidney Sam, Stefan Kiessling as and Son Heung-Min all look set to return to the starting XI today in a game they should win comfortably. Shaktar haven’t beaten German opposition in Europe for 30 years, their last win coming over Eintracht Frankfurt in the 1980/81 UEFA Cup first round with a 1:0 victory. That’s unlikely to change today.
FC Copenhagen vs Galatasaray
Ddorgba can see the Turks home.
It’d be a monumental achievement if Galatasaray progress through to the next stages of the competition ahead of Juve and Real, not least for club coach Roberto Mancini. Having been let go by Manchester City earlier this year, the prospect of coming up against his old club in the next round must be very appetizing. Despite being without 1st choice Goalkeeper Fernando Muslera (broken toe) and ex Dutch International midfielder Sneijder (thigh) the Turks have enough quality to get an away victory. Furthermore they also have fond memories of Copenhagen, it was here they beat Arsenal on penalties and were crowned UEFA Cup Champions back in 2000.
Juventus vs Real Madrid
Pogba and Tevez crucial for the old lady of Italian football
Real nearly conceded 3 goals in the second half at the weekend, and will be without left back Fábio Coentrão. For Juventus, coach Antonio Conte has already reiterated this is a must win game for the Bianconeri if they want to qualify to the next stage. Despite being without the suspended Chiellini Juventus will be looking to the likes of Tevez, Giovinco and Pogba to provide a bit of magic to stun the Madrid giants.
Olympiakos vs Benfica
Mitroglou Magic may prove even too tricky for Jesus
Despite strong words defending his side ahead of the game, Benfica coach Jorge Jesus will be well aware of the size of task at hand. The game also presents another chance for football fans to see a player we all once admired. Ex Barcelona star and pint sized genius Javier Saviola will be looking to put one over his former Portugese side where he spent 3 seasons, winning four trophies and scoring 39 goals. All eyes will however be on the inform Kostas Mitroglou. The first Greek to ever register a Champion’s league hat trick the 25 year old has also struck a remarkable 13 goals in just 9 league games. With all due respect to Olympiacos, if he continues to perform in this manner a move to a bigger European club seems imminent.
Paris Saint Germain vs FC Anderlecht
More Ooh la la from Ibracadabra?
PSG look formidable this season and are firm favourites to win the competition for many. They haven’t lost in the league, they have a 100% record in Europe and whilst all the limelight rightly goes to Zlatan Ibrahimovic they also have Edison Cavani. The Uruguayan scored twice at the week end, taking his season tally to 9 and consequently topping the goal scorer charts. With Ibrahimovic returning having being rested at the weekend, it’s difficult to see a romantic ending for the Belgians in Paris.
Expect a Blitzkrieg in Pilsen
The title holders thumped the home side 5:0 in the previous meeting without reaching top gear. The group stage thus far has been a formality for the Germans. An easy win should solidify their claims for a spot in the next qualifying phase, where they’ll face sterner opposition and the fun for the neutral can really begin.
image: © El Ronzo