The UEFA Champions League returns with some mouth-watering encounters lined up. Arsenal will look to claim their first points in the competition, but it won’t be easy as they face Pep Guardiola’s Bavarian juggernaut.
Speaking of juggernauts, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid will lock horns at the Parc des Princes, with both teams gunning for top spot in group A, this game should be a thrilling affair. Elsewhere, a Messi-less Barcelona face BATE Borisov who come into this game off the back of a thrilling victory over Roma. Jose Mourinho will be hoping to get his Blues back to their best when they take on Dynamo Kiev, but the Ukrainian champions rarely get bullied on their own turf.
I will be taking a look at each night's fixtures separately. Tuesday night promises some great football viewing and I can assure you there’s money to be made. Let’s get to it then.
Tuesday 20th October
Russian Champions, Zenit St. Petersburg, will be looking to make it three wins from three games when they take on Olympique Lyon. The French side will be looking to improve on their European record this season. Lyon have picked up just one point from their opening two games in Group H. While Lyon will be looking for points, Zenit's Brazilian powerhouse, Hulk, will be looking to add to his two-goal tally, having netted a brace on matchday one. Lyon have endured a slow start to both their domestic and European campaigns, while Zenit have been impressive in their European outings thus far I’m tipping Zenit to come out strong and claim maximum points, against the struggling French side.
BATE are coming off the back of an impressive 3-2 home victory against Roma. The Belarusian side got off to a dream start in the match, scoring three goals in the opening half and did very well to hold on to the lead for the remainder of the game. The victory proved BATE have enough quality to compete in Europe’s elite tournament. They also demonstrated that they have an abundance of goal scoring threats. Serbian left back, Filip Mladenovic, netted a brace against Roma, and while it’s unlikely that the fullback will top the group goal scoring charts, it is handy to know he’s capable of chipping in with a few goals. Bate will look to emulate that first-half display when they take on the Catalans on Tuesday evening. They should be feeling quietly confident heading into this game, knowing that four-time Ballon d'Or winner, Lionel Messi will be sidelined due to injury. Barcelona will be missing their star player but have plenty other attacking options in their arsenal, with the likes of Luis Suarez and Neymar able to find the back of the net on a regular basis. Barcelona lead Group E courtesy of a late comeback victory over Bayer Leverkusen, last time out. Luis Suarez will be high on confidence heading into this one after scoring in both of Barcelona’s group F matches. He has proven to be vital for the Catalonian side in Messi's absence. Despite Lionel Messi missing in action, Barcelona have the depth and quality to bag all three points and I’m tipping them to come out on top.
Dynamo Kyiv 18/10
Jose Mourinho will look to get Chelsea back to their best when they take on Dynamo Kiev. Mourinho has faced a lot of criticism recently, with the Blues failing to pick up where they left off last season. There’s been loads of speculation, around, whether the Chelsea boss is the right man to lead the club forward. Thier Brazilian midfielder, Willian, has been key to the Chelsea side going forward, this season. The attacking midfielder scored in both of the Blues European games and has four goals in all competitions this season. Kiev know that they have what it takes to get past a Chelsea defence who are playing well bellow the standards they set last year. With the likes of Paraguayan youngster, Derlis González and Ukrainian International Andriy Yarmolenko, Dynamo Kiev have every chance of breaking through the London sides defence. Chelsea will be desperate to bounce back against Kiev after failing to beat Mourinho’s former team, FC Porto, in week two. The Ukrainians have an excellent record at home and are capable of challenging the Blues. A draw is predicted at 23/10.
Dinamo Zagreb 7/4
Dinamo Zagreb have hit the headlines in the Champions League, but not for the right reasons. Midfielder Arijan Ademi failed a drug test after their Group F win against Arsenal, in the first week of the competition. The midfielder has submitted a second sample for UEFA testing and if the B sample tests the same as the original, he will face a severe ban, which will subsequently rule the 24-year-old out of Tuesdays clash against Olympiacos. The Greek side will take a lot of positives from their previous match, which saw them overpower Arsenal at the Emirates. They will look to extend their fantastic run of form away from home when they travel to Croatia. While Olympiacos are coming off the back of a spectacular win, Zagreb come into this one off a 5-0 hammering from Bayern Munich. A win for Olympiacos would see them edge closer to the next round. The Greek Champions will be going all out for the win and are tipped to get the business done here.
Bayern Munich 17/20
Arsenal will look to pick up their first European points this season when they take on German giants, Bayern Munich. The Gunners have endured two losses from their opening two games. They know that this game will be their greatest challenge yet. Arsene Wenger and his charge's will be extremely wary of the threat Polish striker, Robert Lewandowski possess. The Bayern, centre forward will be looking to add to the hat-trick he picked up on Matchday two. Bayern have been in terrific form, and despite not having the combination of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery on either flank, the Bavarians still have plenty of depth and quality, with the likes of Douglas Costa, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze driving the team forward and feeding arguably the most lethal striker in the world. These sides last met in the 2013/14 Champions League, where Arsenal travelled to the Allianz Arena and stole a point. Arsenal have quite a decent record when facing German opposition but lost in that 2013/14 return leg by two goals to nil. Arsene Wenger was questioned after the game against Olympiacos, as to why he left his first-choice goalkeeper, Petr Cech, on the bench. The former Chelsea star will return to the starting eleven for this game and will be vital to the Gunners attempts to stop the attacking force, that is Bayern Munich. Guardiola’s men have been ruthless in all competitions this season and are tipped to win at Arsenal.
M. Tel-Aviv 73/4
Israeli Champions, Maccabi Tel-Aviv are yet to get off the mark in the competition. While the two losses will be giving Tel Aviv’s coaching staff some sleepless nights, their lack of goals is probably more of a worry. They have failed to score in both matches played so far. Slaviša Jokanović’s men will face a tough task when they travel to Portuguese giants, FC Porto. The Dragons will look to keep up their good run of form which has seen them beat Chelsea and pick up a point at Dynamo Kiev. In attack, Porto will look to Algerian winger Yacine Brahimi who has been described by his coach as a “technically gifted player”. Brahimi was influential in their 2-1 win over Chelsea; he was a handful for the Blues fullbacks, who just couldn’t seem to close the diminutive winger down. In defence, Porto will look to lean on the experience of goalkeeper Iker Casillas, who has previously won this tournament on three occasions. Maccabi Tel-Aviv know that they will have to go all out to steal something from this game. FC Porto are favourites at 1/7 and are tipped to get the home win.
Belgian Champions Gent travel to Valencia on matchday three, and will be looking to grab something from this game after picking up just one point from their opening two matches. Gent will need to work on the defensive side of their game, after conceding first in both of their previous Group H encounters. Valencia are coming off the back of an impressive away win at Olympique Lyon, the winning goal came courtesy of a first-half strike from Algerian midfielder, Sofiane Feghouli. Valencia will look to continue their impressive run and are tipped to get the Halftime–Fulltime Win Double at 5/2.
Bayer Leverkusen 9/10
Leverkusen were outstanding in their first fixture at home to BATE, winning 4-1. Leverkusen showed their class in the second half of that game scoring three goals in the second stanza. Roger Schmidt, was relieved to grab the victory after seeing his side concede so soon after going one nil up. Roma will look to bounce back after a shock defeat to BATE in their second match in Group E. The Italians may have scored two goals in the second stanza, but it was in vain as they went down 3-2. I’m expecting Bayer Leverkusen to get the Win with Both Teams To Score at 7/10.