Champions League – Matchday 2 Preview

by Ger McCarthy

The Champions League returns for Matchday 2 on Tuesday evening with a host of clubs looking to build on positive starts from a fortnight ago. There are plenty of marquee matchups to look forward to including the clashes of Bayern Munich vs. Man City, Valencia vs. Chelsea and Real Madrid vs. as Europe’s premier football tournament continues apace.

Tuesday September 27
Group A

An Aleksandar Kolarov free-kick earned Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City a 1-1 draw at home to Napoli on Matchday 1 and the Premier League outfit’s hopes of progressing to the knockout stages face their sternest test in Munich on Tuesday evening. Bayern Munich has enjoyed a terrific start to their domestic campaign and currently sit top of the Bundesliga table ahead of City’s visit to the Munich Arena.

The Germans defeated Villarreal 2-0 in Spain a fortnight ago thanks to goals from Toni Kroos and Rafinha and will fancy their chances at home to a Manchester City side that blew a two-goal lead away to Fulham recently ending with a 2-2 draw.

Sergei Ageuro is in scintillating form for City right now but much of the Manchester club’s chances will hinge on the tactics employed by their Italian manger Roberto Mancini. City have been surprisingly open and fluid in their domestic encounters thus far but a more defensive line-up may be adopted for the trip to Munich where a point wouldn’t constitute a disaster for the Premier League side.

Napoli plays host to Villarreal on the same evening with the home side looking to in-form striker Edinson Cavani to continue his recent hot streak and earn the Neapolitans their maiden Champions League victory. Giusseppe Rossi and Nilmar goals erned Villarreal their first La Liga win of the season recently overcoming Mallorca 2-0 to move up to 13th in the standings. A similar performance will be necessary for the yellow submarines if they are to get anything out of their trip to Italy.

Group A Matchday 2 predictions: Napoli 2 Villarreal 1 and Bayern Munich 1 Manchester City 1

Group B
To say it has been a turbulent few weeks at Internazionale would be the understatement of the year. Gian Piero Gasperini has been sacked following a dreadful start to Inter’s Serie A campaign which culminated in a recent humiliating 3-1 loss to newly promoted Novara.

Club owner Massimo Moratti took immediate action by removing Gasperini and installing former Chelsea and Roma manager Claudio Ranieri as Inter’s new head coach. The ‘Tinkerman’ will need to hit the ground running with his new club as Inter lost 1-0 at home to Turkish outfit Trabzonspor in their opening Group B encounter.

Inter travel to the Luzhniki Stadium in Russia to face CSKA Moscow on Matchday 2 with the home side looking to build on their opening day 2-2 draw away to Lille. A Seydou Doumbia brace earned CSKA a draw having fallen 2-0 behind to the French Champions and Moscow will hope the African striker can repeat his goal-scoring feats on Tuesday night.

CSKA currently sit third in the Russian Premier League standings just two points behind leaders Zenit St. Petersburg and the Muscovites will look to ace midfielder Keisuke Honda for inspiration on Matchday 2.

Lille faces a daunting trip to Turkey to face a Trabzonspor side still celebrating their historic 1-0 away win in Milan from Matchday 1. Eden Hazard is Lille’s primary playmaker and will be pivotal to his side’s chances in Turkey. Failing to register a win in either of their previous two league encounters against Bordeaux and Sochaux does not augur well for the Ligue 1 Champions.

Turkish football is still reeling from match-fixing allegations from the end of last season so Trabzonspor’s historic win at inter proved a welcome relief. Two draws and a defeat from their opening three Turkish Super League fixtures has Trab struggling at the foot of the table but a second consecutive Champions League win might bring about a change in fortunes.

Group B Matchday 2 predictions: Trabzonspor 2 Lille 1, CSKA Moscow 0 Inter 0

Group C
Ryan Giggs’ rolled back the years and scored a terrific individual effort to earn Manchester United a 1-1 draw away to Benfica in the Premier League Champions opening Group C game on Matchday 1. United remain top of the table in England following a whirlwind start to the season in which Wayne Rooney has been in imperious form. A second string side did just enough to earn a in Portugal last time and a first win of their European campaign is expected at home to FC Basel at Old Trafford on Tuesday night.

The Swiss side recorded a fine 2-1 win over Champions League debutantes Otelul Galati on Matchday 1 thansk to goals from Fabian and Alexander Frei. Basel currently lie in third in the Swiss Super League standings and are 6 points adrift of leaders FC Luzern after 9 rounds of fixtures. A point at Old Trafford would represent a good result for the Swiss considering how well United are playing right now.

Group C Matchday 2 predictions: Manchester United 4 FC Basel 0, Otelul Galati 1 Benfica 1

Group D
Angel DiMaria’s superb strike earned Real Madrid a hard fought 1-0 win away to Dinamo Zagreb on Matchday 1 in Group D. Jose Mourinho’s side host Ajax on Tuesday night with the Spanish giant currently enduring a miserable run in the Primera Liga. A 1-0 defeat to Levante was quickly followed by a demoralising 0-0 draw away to Racing Santander leaving Real 5 points adrift of the league leaders.

Mourinho’s expensively assembled squad need to quickly rediscover their shooting boots as Ajax are more than capable of causing an upset in the Santiago Bernabeu. The Amsterdam club were held 2-2 in a top of the table clash with PSV recently but remain in the title chase thanks to the goals of Miralem Sulejmaniand Kolbeinn Sigthórsson.

Olympique Lyonnais earned a point from their opening Champions League Group D encounter with Ajax and remains at the top end of the table in Ligue 1. The French side will be favourites to overcome a Zagreb outfit that produced a fine display in their narrow 1-0 loss to Real Madrid last time out.

Group D Matchday 2 predictions: Real Madrid 3 Ajax 2, Lyon 2 Dinamo Zagreb 0

Follow Ger on Twitter: @offcentrecircle

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