Champions League – Matchday 4 Preview

by Ger McCarthy

Matchday4 of the Champions League sees Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea looking to maintain their positions at the top of their respective group. Borussia Dortmund enter the last –chance saloon with a must win game against Olympiacos while AC Milan and Barcelona should secure their places in the last 16.

Tuesday, 1st November

Group E

Victory away to Genk on Matchday4 of the Champions League will solidify Chelsea’s passage to the knockout phase of the competition. Andres Villas-Boas’ side have saved their best displays for Europe this year underlined by their ruthless 5-0 hammering of Tuesday’s opponents at Stamford Bridge. Fernando Torres looked back to his best that night scoring two goals and only denied a merited hat trick by some excellent goalkeeping.

A recent Premier League 1-0 reversal away to QPR at Loftus Road has served to re-focus Villas-Boas and his squad ahead of their trip to the KRC Genk Arena. The Belgian side is currently 10 points off the pace in their domestic league but displayed enough resolve in their 0-0 draw at home to Valencia on Matchday1 to suggest Chelsea will not have it all their own way on Tuesday night.

Valencia host Bayer Leverkusen in the Mestalla on the same evening in a pivotal encounter for both clubs. The Spanish club desperately needs a win to re-ignite their flagging Champions League season that has seen Unai Emery’s team record only two draws to date. Valencia lost 2-1 to Leverkusen at the Bay Arena on Matchday3 and are struggling to keep pace with the Primera Liga front-runners despite some impressive performances. Just two goals from Jonas and Roberto Soldado are all the Blanquinegros have mustered in Group E this term suggesting Leverkusen are in the driving seat to grab the runners-up spot in the group.

Victory for the Bundesliga club would all but guarantee a place in the last 16 and with Stefan Kiessling and Eren Derdiyok combining well up front the ‘Werkself’ look set for the knockout phase.

Group E – Matchday 4 predictions: Genk 0 Chelsea 2, Valencia 1 Bayer Leverkusen 1

 

Group F

Arsenal’s struggle in the Premier League this season has contrasted with some decent displays in Europe culminating in the Gunners topping Group F heading into Matchday 4. Marseille are the visitors to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night with a late Aaron Ramsey goal proving the difference between the sides in the last round of group matches. A second consecutive win for Arsene Wenger’s outfit would leave Arsenal requiring a single point from their final two group fixtures to clinch a spot in the last 16.

Arsenal’s hopes for the remainder of the European campaign rest on the form and fitness of Robin Van Persie. The Dutch international is Arsenal’s top scorer this term and playing some of the best football of his career so a home win looks the likeliest outcome.

Back-to-back wins over Borussia Dortmund and Olympiacos saw Marseille top Group F until their late capitulation at home to Arsenal on Matchday 3. Andre Ayew and Loic Remy have impressed this season for Les Olympiens in the Champions League this year and a point at the Emirates Stadium would keep Marseille on course for a second round berth.

The meeting of Olympiacos and Borussia Dortmund in the BVB Stadion on Tuesday night represents a crucial fixture for the Bundesliga club. Last season’s German Champions have failed to obtain the results their performances have deserved in Europe and Jurgen Klopp’s team are still looking for their first victory of the 2011-12 CL campaign.

Olympiacos produced one of their best ever Champions League performances to defeat Dortmund 3-1 on Matchday3 in Piraeus. A point would be enough for Ernesto Valverde’s side to keep their German opponents at bay ahead of Olympiacos’ crucial encounter with Marseille on Matchday5.

Group F – Matchday 4 predictions: Arsenal 3 Marseille 1, Borussia Dortmund 3 Olympiacos 2


Group G

APOEL host FC Porto in the GSP Stadium in Nicosia on Tuesday evening in one of the most important European games ever played by a Cypriot club. APOEL have confounded the critics with some excellent team displays to top Group G after three rounds of games. Matchday3’s hard-fought 1-1 draw away to Porto made the rest of Europe sit up and take notice of Ivan Jovanovic’s side after an unlikely draw away to Shakhtar and opening day win over Zenit.

Should APOEL avoid defeat at home to Porto then the Cypriot club will have a terrific chance of making the last 16 with the result of the home fixture against Donetsk on December 6th likely to decide their fate.

Shakhtar Donetsk and Zenit St. Petersburg renew acquaintances in the Petrovski Stadium having drawn an exciting encounter 2-2 on Matchday2 in the Ukraine. Shakhtar will need to produce their best form to have any chance of ending a run of 10 successive home wins for the St. Petersburg club in Europe.

Shakhtar played well in the 2-2 draw a fortnight ago but twice allowed Zenit to come from behind and earn a draw. Neither side can afford to lose in the closest of Champions League qualifying groups so a tense match is anticipated.

Group G – Matchday 4 predictions: APOEL 1 FC Porto 1, Zenit St. Petersburg 0 Shakhtar Donetsk 0


Group H

AC Milan and Barcelona can solidify their places in the knockout stages of this season’s champions League with expected away wins over BATE Borisov and FC Viktoria Plzen on Matchday4. Reigning Champions League title-holders, Barca, are in the Eden Stadium in Prague on Tuesday night looking to maintain their unbeaten record in Group H.

The Catalans opening day 2-2 draw with AC Milan was followed by consecutive wins over BATE and their Matchday4 opponents in the Camp Nou on October 19th courtesy of Iniesta and David Villa. Even though Barcelona dominated possession, much of the encounter saw Plzen defending resolutely suggesting Messi and co. will be pushed all the way on Tuesday evening.

AC Milan’s trip to Bucharest to take on BATE Borisov is the reverse fixture from Matchday3 when the Italians recorded a deserved 2-0 win at the San Siro. Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Kevin Prince Boateng netted in a 2-0 win and former Tottenham midfielder Boateng continued his recent good form in front of goal with a recent hat trick in the 4-3 Serie A defeat of Lecce.

Group H – Matchday 4 predictions: BATE 0 AC Milan 2, FC Viktoria Plzen 0 Barcelona 3

Follow Ger on Twitter: @offcentrecircle

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