This Tuesday evening the final round of group stage matches, of the UEFA Champions League promises to entertain football fans.
Barcelona and Juventus face off against each other, however, both teams have already qualified for the round-of-16 comfortably, leaving a slim chance for us to watch two of the greatest players in the history of the competition, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo renew their rivalry at opposite ends of a football pitch.
Chelsea and Sevilla have also booked their tickets to next round from Group E, while in Group F, Lazio host Club Brugge in a straight shootout to join Borussia Dortmund in the next stage.
Although, all eyes will be on the “Group of Death”, with Manchester United making the trip to Germany to lock horns with RB Leipzig. Paris-Saint Germain, Man United and RB Leipzig are level on nine points each. Istanbul Basaksehir are expected to be outclassed by the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, which leaves Man United with the equation of avoiding defeat at the Red Bull Arena to qualify, a draw would mean the Red Devils progress to the next round.
Tuesday 8 December
Chelsea will top Group E regardless of the result between Rennes and Sevilla. Frank Lampard is expected to ring the changes and give fringe players the opportunity to stake their claim going into the English Premier League’s gruelling December schedule, where squad depth will prove to be imperative.
Midfielder Billy Gilmour said, “There’s competition for places in this team, it’s hard to get in. We have to go into the game to win. Chelsea are a massive team and everyone knows the standards.” Krasnodar had moments in the reverse tie but eventually fell to a 4-0 defeat to the Blues.
Lazio welcome the Belgian champions Club Brugge to Rome, where Biancocelesti claimed victories against Borussia Dortmund (3-1) and Zenit St. Petersburg (3-1). Simone Inzaghi’s Eagles are unbeaten in the competition, sharing the spoils in all three away ties. Ciro Immobile has been in inspired form for the Italians and knows an early goal will set his team on the right track.
A point for Lazio will see them enter the last-16 for the first time since the 2000/01 season. Club Brugge will be trying gate-crash the party, only a win will change their fortunes, if not Philippe Clement’s side will resume their European adventure in the Europa League.
Zenit St. Petersburg held Lazio to a 1-1 draw that chalked up their only point and have lost their other four ties convincingly. Sardar Azmoun will spearhead the attack for the Russians and claimed his team are committed to giving their best performance, there are no friendlies in the UEFA Champions League, and they’re coming to win a football match.
Borussia Dortmund are through to the next round but; their next task will be topping this group to avoid drawing a heavyweight opponent when the competition continues early next year. Erling Haaland is still recovering from a hamstring injury so this week I’ll have to look for something other than, Haaland in the Anytime Goalscorer market.
Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros will battle it out for third spot in the group, which is valuable to clubs from Ukraine and Hungary. These sides drew 2-2 in the reverse tie with Ferencvaros clawing back from 2-0 down at half-time.
Dynamo Kiev will be better prepared on home soil as well as their experiences in previous seasons of the Champions League which gives them an upper hand over the first-timers. The visitors found the net at the Nou Camp and Turin but will now try to go one better by claiming their first UCL victory.
Barcelona dropped points in La Liga for the fourth time directly after midweek UEFA Champions League action. The Catalans look like a shadow of the team that struck fear into everyone during the past 10 years. Barca’s unbeaten record of 37 UCL games at the Nou Camp will be put to the test when Ronaldo returns to Spain.
Messi will cherish the visit of his closest rival in what could be the Argentine’s final season for the Blaugrana. Juventus suffered a 2-0 defeat in Turin, while Ronaldo was in self isolation and recovering from covid-19. The Portuguese forward has scored 7 goals in eight games since returning to action and will have his sights set on adding to the 18 times, he’s already scored against Barca in his career.
Paris Saint-Germain will top Group H by winning this match at Le Parc des Princes, due to their superior head-to-head record over both Man United and RB Leipzig. Neymar and Mbappe are fully fit which spells danger for the Turkish champions.
Istanbul Basaksehir come into the clash winless in six games across all competitions and their only UCL victory in the club’s history came against Man United, five weeks ago. Last time out, Irfan Kahveci scored a memorable hattrick in a 4-3 humdinger against RB Leipzig, but left the game with nothing as the Red Bulls stole all three points in stoppage time.
Lazio vs Club Brugge – Totals Home Team: Over 1,5 Goals 13/20
Chelsea vs Krasnodar – Both Teams to Score (Yes) 8/10
PSG vs Istanbul Basaksehir – Both Halves Over 1,5 Goals 13/10