Champions League is finally back tonight after a couple week hiatus and there are some intriguing matchup to follow tonight. With eight games on Tuesday and eight more on Wednesday these are crucial games for numerous teams and one could say that this is the week where pretenders and contenders separate themselves.
Below are the short previews of tonight’s games with the Garbersports prediction (sure to go wrong):
ARSENAL – BAYERN
The marquee matchup on Tuesday pits the mighty Bavarians, who have yet to lose this season, against an in-from Arsenal squad in a must-win game for the Gunners. Arsenal have no one to blame here but themselves as they lost both games against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiacos. It’s been well documented that they took both games very lightly and paid a hefty price for it, needing 3 points minimum out of the two games coming up against Bayern. In the Premier League Arsenal have been great but have not been able to translate that form to the Champions League.
Bayern on the other hand have played 11 games this season and won all 11. Without a doubt “Die Rotten” are the in-form team across Europe but this is the biggest test thus far. It’s a desperate Arsenal squad, one relatively healthy, while Bayern will be without their two superstars in Robben and Ribery. Add to that Mario Gotze being out and a late scratch of Kingsley Coman and Pep Guardiola’s bench is looking considerably weaker.
Be that as it may Bayern is simply on another level this season and I think that trend continues on Tuesday. I think Arsenal will show great spells and have the backing of a raucous crowd, unfortunately for them no one in Europe has been able to solve the trio of Costa/Muller/Lewandowski. It’s vital for Arsenal not to concede early on in the game because that will suck the air out Emirates and the negativity could spread to the pitch.
German mentality, along with world class strikers in Muller and Lewandowski (something Arsenal don’t have in Walcott or Giroud) and the best goalkeeper in the world propel Bayern to a narrow victory in north London.
Garbersports prediction : Arsenal 1 Bayern 2
BATE BORISOV – BARCELONA
Yes Messi is missing but Barcelona still have 2 of the top 10 players in the world in Neymar and Luis Suarez. Neymar scored 4 over the weekend and will continue that trend against the Belarusian champions, who over the weekend secured their 10th successive title.
Bate will come into the game full of confidence as well as having beaten Roma on Matchday 2 but this is a different beast in itself. Sure the best player in the world is missing but there is enough there for Barca expose Bate’s defensive frailties and escape Belarus with 3 points.
Garbersports prediction: Bate 1 Barcelona 3
BAYER LEVERKUSEN – ROMA
This could be the most entertaining game on Matchday 2. Roma have been in good form in the league but have not hit the ground running in the Champions League with a draw against Barcelona and surprising loss to Bate. Having Edin Dzeko there could be helpful, as the Bosnian has Bundesliga experience and quite frankly there is no one on the team who can play the central striker role like he can.
As for Leverkusen they will come into this game still bitter about the way they lost at Barcelona on Matchday 2. That display in itself will give them confidence and in my opinion Leverkusen are the favorites in this game. A sold out BayArena will be rocking, urging the players to defeat Roma and establish themselves as the second best team in the group with the home matchup against Barcelona still on the horizon.
Garbersports prediction: Leverkusen 2 Roma 1
DYNAMO KIEV – CHELSEA
Chelsea won over the weekend, so everything is back to normal, right? Wrong! Their display against Aston Villa was anything but convincing and I think the mediocrity continues in Kiev. Dynamo is a tricky opponent, especially at home, and Chelsea has shown us nothing great this season.
The questions will be asked about Jose Mourinho’s lineup selection and whether the likes of Hazard, Cahill and Matic return to the starting 11. Chelsea will be slightly favored here and should be just based on the quality they have in the team, however, until they prove it over and over again it’s hard for me to pick them.
Garbersports prediction: Dynamo Kiev 1 Chelsea 1
PORTO – MACCABI TEL-AVIV
Porto is for real and anyone who doubts them can do so at your own risk. I’m not saying they are one of the favorites to reach the final but they have plenty of power to get by Maccabi in this game. Estadio do Dragao has been a fortress for them and Maccabi will get to experience that on Tuesday. I simply can’t see the Israeli team coping with the quality of Porto in that stadium and as a result this should be relatively easy for them.
Garbersports prediction: Porto 4 Maccabi 0
VALENCIA – GENT
Valencia are coming off a surprising loss at home to Zenit and I’m not sure if that says more about Valencia’s lack of ability or Zenit’s power. Today they face the Belgian newcomers Gent and will need to get the 3 points at home, anything other than that would be catastrophic. Valencia has the better players but have yet to play up to their potential. I think they right the ship tonight, although I do see the Belgian side coming out of this game with a decent display. This will not be a convincing victory the squads would suggest.
Garbersports prediction: Valencia 2 Gent 1
ZENIT – LYON
Zenit sit atop of the group and are favored in this game. Hulk has been the main man for the Russian side and proved his worth against Valencia with some powerful strikes. A win in this game would almost certainly qualify Zenit through and that alone will be enough motivation.
Lyon on the other hand have underachieved in the league and in particular in the Champions League. They lost at home to Valencia (albeit they were very unlucky in the game) and Alexandre Lacazette missed a penalty late in the game against Gent. Basically with a couple more fortunate bounces Lyon could have been sitting at 4 points or even full 6. I think Lyon show up in Russia and get away with a point.
Garbersports prediction: Zenit 2 Lyon 2
DINAMO ZAGREB – OLYMPIACOS
What looks like the most forgettable matchup of the night could be an intriguing game in the Croatian capital. Both teams have beaten Arsenal and both have been equally thumped by Bayern. The opportunity is there for both squads to grab the second spot in the group with Arsenal facing of against Germans over the next two games. That is exactly why both teams will go for it. If one of these teams wins tonight and Bayern were to beat Arsenal they would be 6 points ahead of the Gunners. It should be an up and down affair at the Maksimir Stadion with goals on either side but I have to go with my former Yugoslav ties.
Garbersports prediction Dinamo 3 Olympiacos 2