While elections for president are currently underway in the United States, 16 teams will battle it out today in Europe for control of their respective groups in the UEFA Champions League. Already half of the Group Stage fixtures have been played; the 4th being played today (groups A, B, C, D) and tomorrow (groups E, F, G, H). Everything that happens from now on will decide the result of each group and which teams will move on to the Knockout Round to possibly be crowned the European Champions.
Group A: In Group A today, Dynamo Kiev will take on FC Porto while Paris Saint Germain will play Dinamo Zagreb in 2 match-ups that will possibly decide the result of the group. The table stands with FC Porto on top with 9 points, Paris Saint Germain in 2nd with 6, Dynamo Kiev in 3rd with 3 points, and Dinamo Zagreb in last with 0.
Dynamo Kiev vs FC Porto-Dynamo must seal a win against the league leaders if they want to move on to the knockout stage. Dynamo has had a fairly bad start to the season, conceding 7 goals and scoring only 5 while managing only 1 win out of their 3 games. FC Porto has shown to be everything but that, with a strong squad both offensively and defensively. They currently harbor a 100% winning rate in the league, scoring 6 goals. But the only 2 goals conceded by Porto were consequently scored by Dynamo in their previous game (which ended in a 3-2 win for Porto), which means we could have a very exciting game ahead of us. I don’t doubt Dynamo wont be scored on, but they could just as easily score on Porto because their strengths are obviously in the offensive half.
Prediction: Dynamo Kiev 2-2 FC Porto
Paris Saint Germain vs Dinamo Zagreb-The Champions League Knockout Round is clearly not in Dinamo Zagreb’s future. Unlike Porto, they have a 100% losing record and haven’t scored a single goal. Paris, which has been very organized and done a fairly good job this season, clearly has the advantage. They have scored a total of 6 goals and conceded only 2, which is equal to that of Porto’s. Ibrahimovic is likely to score at least one goal for Paris, and with both a sloppy offense and defense, it is unlikely Zagreb will score their first. Possession will clearly be on Paris’ side, and Zagreb will probably not make any decent shots at all. Similar results from their previous game, which ended in a 2-0 win for Paris, are likely to occur.
Prediction: Paris Saint Germain 3-0 Dinamo Zagreb
Group B: Group B currently has Schalke 04 on top with 7 points, Arsenal in a close 2nd with 6, Olympiakos in 3rd with 3, and Montpellier in 4th with only 1. Today, Schalke will take on Arsenal while Olympiakos battles it out with Montpellier.
Schalke 04 vs Arsenal-This match is a must-watch for any Champions League enthusiast. Just 2 weeks ago, Schalke rose to the top with an unexpected 2-0 win over Arsenal, thanks to 2 late goals. This season, Shalke has scored 6 goals and conceded 3, while Arsenal has scored 5 and conceded 4. Schalke has been doing very good so far, with a well balanced team on both sides of the pitch. Arsenal’s loss came as a shock to them, but I feel they could redeem themselves in their game today. Giroud, Podolski, and Walcott will give Arsenal a strong offense, in which they are surly to score. A tie is very likely, but Arsenal has the enthusiasm to just edge the Germans in this match.
Prediction: Schalke 04 1-2 Arsenal
Olympiakos vs Montpellier-Because it is not likely for either Olympiakos or Montpellier to advance to the Knockout Round, this match will likely decide what squad will take 3rd place. Both teams have scored 4 times and conceded 6, and their previous Champions League match-up ended in a 2-1 win for Olympiakos. Montpellier have yet to win their first game, while the Greek side has 1 win and 2 losses. Neither team has been very strong this season, and their defenses are clearly not at their best. They don’t have many “star” players on the offensive, so it will probably be a low scoring game also.
Prediction: Olympiakos 1-1 Montpellier
Group C: Anderlecht will play Zenit Petersburg while AC Milan will take on Malaga once again in Group C today. The group has Malaga in a clear lead with 9 points, AC Milan in 2nd with 4, Zenit Petersburg in a close 3rd with 3 points, and Anderlecht in last with 1.
AC Milan vs Malaga-Milan need to step up their game if they want to secure a place in the knockout round. With a 4 point disavantage under league leaders Malaga, a win is vital for them to stay in 2nd. For Malaga, the Knockout Round is just a few games away, and even if they sustain their current results, they will likely make it in with ease. Malaga has an amazing 7-0 record for scoring, while Milan has scored and conceded 3. Their previous matchup saw Malaga just edge Milan with a 1-0 win. Malaga has had a great season, with 3 wins out of 3, but it may be Milan’s time to shine. They both have fairly strong squads, but the game could possibly not see many goals scored.
Prediction: AC Milan 1-0 Malaga
Anderlecht vs Zenit Petersburg-Petersburg still has a chance to make the Knockout Round if they manage a win over Anderlecht today. Zenit has scored 3 goals so far and conceded 6, while Anderlecht has yet to score their first. Their match-up 2 weeks ago had Zenit beat Anderlecht with a score of 1-0. Neither team has shown they have a very strong squad this season, and although it is possible, it is unlikely for either team to advance to the Knockout Round. This match will probably not decide much, and because both teams don’t have much strength in their offenses, it will probably also be a fairly low-scoring game.
Prediction: Anderlecht 0-2 Zenit Petersburg
Group D: And finally, the “Group of Death.” Group D will see Real Madrid take on Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City play Ajax today. The Group has Borussia Dortmund on top with 7, Real Madrid in a close 2nd with 6, Ajax in 3rd with 3, and Manchester City in last with only 1 point.
Real Madrid vs Borussia Dortmund-Dortmund’s previous game with Real Madrid came as a shock to all Champions League fans, which gave Dortmund the win after hard-fought game that ended with a score of 3-2. Dortmund has scored 4 goals and conceded 2 so far, while Real Madrid has a record of about double that: 8-5. Both teams are contenders of winning the entire Champions League, and this game is likely to decide who will stay on top of their group. After their loss, the odds will likely be on Madrid’s side today. The most valuable players during today’s game will probably be Ronaldo and Di Maria for Madrid and Götze and Reus for Dortmund.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-1 Borussia Dortmund
Manchester City vs Ajax-Manchester City are in desperate need of a universal comeback in Champions League if they want to advance to the Knockout Stage. They need to win at least 2 or even 3 of their next 3 games in order to do that, and they need to improve both their offense and defense starting with today’s game. Both teams have scored 4 goals apiece, and Ajax has conceded 6 while City has let in 7. Ajax delivered a shocking win in their previous game together 2 weeks ago, which was probably the last blow to City. Balotelli and Erikson will be vital to their respective teams today, and it is hard to predict how many goals will be scored in this match-up.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-0 Ajax