Saudi money vs Qatar money as Newcastle United Host PSG
The UEFA Champions League returns this week across Tuesday and Wednesday, as teams fight for the win to boost their chances of making it out of the group stage.
This Champions League match day is crucial in particular, as the next matches to follow from this week will be the double header matches.
As Groups A through D do battle on Tuesday and Groups E to H on Wednesday, how do the groups look so far and how will each team be feeling ahead of their next game?
Bayern Munich lead the way so far and they will travel to Copenhagen looking to make it two wins out of two – Bayern beat Manchester United 4-3 in their first match, so will feel confident against the team many feel to be the weakest in the group.
Despite Bayern’s patchy form in the Bundesliga, they have not lost in their last 35 matches in the Champions League group stages and star striker Harry Kane has nine goals in eight games.
Copenhagen and Bayern have never met in the Champions League, but the Danish side have never beaten German opposition.
The other game sees Manchester United host Turkish side Galatasaray after the latter’s 2-2 draw last time out.
United have been painful to watch in the Premier League, losing to Crystal Palace at home on Saturday, but will feel optimistic now that Antony is back in contention.
Galatasaray defeated United in the 2012/13 season and have players in the calibre of Wilfried Zaha, Dries Mertens and Mauro Icardi.
Alex’s Predictions: Copenhagen 0-3 Bayern Munich and Manchester United 1-1 Galatasaray.
Lens, in their third Champions League campaign, will host Arsenal whilst PSV Eindhoven host Sevilla.
Arsenal will be in good spirits after their dominating win over Bournemouth last weekend, but have not had ideal preparation for this game as their plane was delayed due to storms.
Thomas Partey and Bukayo Saka are both fit, so it will be a big task for Lens, who sit 15th in Ligue 1.
Meanwhile, PSV host Sevilla and will want a win after their 4-0 loss to Arsenal in match day one – PSV are top of the Eredivisie, having a perfect record from seven games, and take on a Sevilla side in bad form in La Liga.
Sevilla held Lens to a draw in Spain, but will need to perform better to challenge the Dutch side currently steamrolling in the Eredivisie.
Alex’s Predictions: Lens 0-2 Arsenal and PSV 2-0 Sevilla
Arguably the stand-out tie of Tuesday, Italian champions Napoli host Real Madrid in a blockbuster match which could go a long way to determine who wins the group.
Napoli’s head coach – Rudi Garcia – says star player Khvicha Kvaratskhelia has found his confidence again, which will worry Madrid as the Georgian winger is one of the game’s hottest properties.
Madrid will face the music without the services of David Alaba, Eder Militao and Arda Guler through injury, but Vinicius Junior will be fit and ready for the bumper tie, and Jude Bellingham is in the form of his career, looking for his ninth goal of the season.
Both teams picked up wins in their first fixtures, so whoever wins will put pressure on the losing side as they fend off the other teams.
Union Berlin, who only lost by a solitary goal to Madrid in Spain, host Braga in the early kick off, and this already has the inevitability of a battle to decide third place and a UEFA Europa League spot.
Alex’s Predictions: Union Berlin 1-0 Braga and Napoli 1-3 Real Madrid
The early kick off sees RB Salzburg entertain Real Sociedad after their impressive away win against Benfica on match day one.
Salzburg have won four of their last six games in all competitions and face a Spanish side reeling from their 1-1 draw against Inter, where they led for the majority of the game.
Salzburg were given zero hope for their first game, yet pulled off one of the shocks of the tournament so far, so an entertaining game is in prospect.
Inter Milan host Portuguese giants Benfica in the last game on Tuesday, with their striker Lautaro Martinez in hot form as he scored four goals against Salernitana in Serie A, despite only appearing as a second-half substitute.
Benfica recently earned a win over FC Porto in Portugal and will feel like they need a win to keep up with the other teams in the group after losing their opening fixture.
Alex’s Predictions: RB Salzburg 1-2 Real Sociedad and Inter 2-1 Benfica
Wednesday’s early kick off sees Atletico Madrid welcome Dutch outfit Feyenoord for their second Champions League game.
Madrid drew against Lazio when their goalkeeper scored a sensational last-minute equaliser. However, Madrid are under pressure to do better than last season when they finished bottom of their group.
Feyenoord will be optimistic about their group chances and know that this fixture will be their hardest test to get out of the group stages, even more so with Santiago Gimenez’s suspension.
Later on Wednesday, Celtic host Lazio and the Scottish champions will have to prove their worth once again after a disappointing defeat to Feyenoord.
Celtic have claimed many results at Celtic Park in the past, including wins over Barcelona and Manchester United, so with their fans behind them anything can happen.
Alex’s Predictions: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Feyenoord and Celtic 2-1 Lazio
Newcastle United’s first home match in the Champions League for 20 years could not have been much more anticipated as Paris Saint-Germain travel to the North-East.
Newcastle picked up a draw against AC Milan in Italy in their first game, whilst PSG defeated Borussia Dortmund.
United have injuries to worry about though, as Joelinton, who fans hope could still be fit, joins Callum Wilson, Sven Botman, Harvey Barnes and Joe Willock in being ruled out of this match.
PSG have had other issues to deal with in the buildup to the fixture, as four PSG players have issued apologies for joining in with disrespectful chanting after beating Marseille. The visitors are also in poor form, having only won three games out of seven so far in Ligue 1, so Newcastle supporters are dreaming of a famous night after so long away from the elite – it will also represent a battle between the Saudi-owned Newcastle and the Qatari-owned PSG.
Elsewhere, Borussia Dortmund host Milan in the other “Group of Death” match, as both look for their first wins of the campaign.
Dortmund sit fourth in the Bundesliga while Milan are second in Serie A, and like Newcastle, Milan are planning a rebuild of their midfield after a string of injuries.
Alex’s Predictions: Newcastle United 2-1 PSG and Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Milan
It is the turn of RB Leipzig to host the reigning champions Manchester City, and if recent results are anything to go by, it may be the time to host the favourites.
City surprisingly lost to Wolves in the Premier League last weekend, after they also lost to Newcastle United in the EFL Cup. However, they have had some good news as John Stones could be in line to feature after a recent injury, and Rodri could also play again.
Both of these teams picked up wins on match day one, however Leipzig will feel confident; Manchester City have not won in Germany in their last four visits. City’s Josko Gvardiol is also in line to feature against his former club after his move from Germany in the summer.
The other game sees Red Star Belgrade host Young Boys in a battle for the Europa League place; both teams are competing for the third time in the group stages and will feel like their matches are the best ones to pick up points as they push for third place.
Alex’s Predictions: RB Leipzig 0-2 Manchester City and Red Star Belgrade 0-0 Young Boys
An intriguing clash awaits, as FC Porto take on Barcelona in Portugal, with both teams sitting on three points and harbouring ambitions to reach the knockout stages.
Barcelona are currently unbeaten in La Liga, but they sit second in the table behind their bitter rivals Real Madrid. Barca will have cause for celebration as manager Xavi celebrates managing his 100th game at the club, winning 63 times so far.
Goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen will also be celebrating if he appears against Porto, as he will equal Antoni Ramallets’ number of appearances. Ramallets is known as Barcelona’s original great goalkeeper.
Group H’s early kick off sees Antwerp host Shakhtar.
Shakhtar have not lost to a team from Belgium in the Champions League since 2002, and this will be the first ever competitive meeting between the sides.
Alex’s Predictions: FC Porto 0-3 Barcelona and Antwerp 0-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
How do you think my predictions will do? Do you think there will be any surprises?
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