Champions League – Matchday 6 Tuesday Preview

by Ger McCarthy

The Group stages of the 2010-2011 Champions League comes to an end on Matchday 6 with four berths in the knockout phase of the tournament yet to be filled. Ger McCarthy looks ahead to Tuesday’s fixtures.

Group A

Tottenham Hotspur and Inter Milan have already qualified from Group A so all that remains from the final round of Matchday 6 fixtures is to see who tops the group and who qualifies as runner-up. Tottenham travels to Holland on Tuesday evening to take on a Twente Enscehede side that defeated Groningen 3-0 at the weekend.  Spurs were held to a 1-1 draw away to Birmingham City and will be without the services of midfield talisman Rafael Van Der Vaart who misses the tie through injury.

All Harry Redknapp’s side have to do to claim top spot is better Inter’s result away to Bundesliga outfit Werder Bremen. The reigning Champions League title holders’ form has been patchy of late culminating in a 3-1 loss to Lazio at the weekend. Rafa Benitez will know his side must improve on their domestic form if they are to challenge Spurs for the Group A top spot.

Prediction

With Gareth Bale and Luka Modric in excellent form Tottenham should have enough firepower to gain an away victory at Twente while Inter should have enough firepower also scrape past Werder Bremen.

Spurs to top Group A and Inter to go through as runners-up.

Group B

German side FC Schalke 04 and French outfit Lyon have already qualified for the knockout round of 16 so all that remains is to sort out who goes through as Group B winners and runners-up. Schalke recorded a morale boosting victory over Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga at the weekend and should prove too strong for Benfica having previously defeated the Portuguese side 2-0 earlier in the competition.

Benfica will have enough initiative to win as they are chasing a Europa League place and defeat to Schalke could leave the door open for Hapoel Tel Aviv to qualify instead. Hapoel travel to Stade Gerland to face a Lyon side already qualified for the knockout phase of the tournament. The sides previously met on Matchday 2 with Lyon running out 3-1 winners in the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv.

Prediction

Home advantage should prove the decisive factor for Lyon when Hapoel Tel Aviv visit on Tuesday evening while Schalke may have to settle for a point in Portugal where Benfica are still looking to secure a Europa League spot.

Lyon will top Group B and Schalke 04 will finish runners-up.

Group C

Manchester United host Valencia at Old Trafford with both sides already sure of progressing to the last 16. The Spanish side can overtake Manchester at the top of the group should they secure an unlikely win but sir Alex Ferguson’s side has yet to concede a goal in this seaosn’s competition so a draw looks the likeliest outcome.

United had the weekend off as their scheduled Premier League encounter with Blackpool fell afoul of the weather while Valencia were defeated 2-0 away to a Real Madrid side still smarting from their 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Barcelona the previous Monday. Rangers are in Turkey to take on Bursaspor on Matchday 6 having already secured a Europa League spot. Bursaspor will be anxious to obtain their first Champions League points of the season so an open game is expected.

Prediction

Manchester United and Valencia will most likely end in a draw at Old Trafford while Bursaspor should get their first points of the campaign at the expense of an already Europa League bound Rangers in Turkey

Manchester United will finish top of Group C and Valencia will qualify as runners-up.

Group D

One of Rubin Kazan and FC Copenhagen will qualify for the knockout phase of this season’s Champions League following the final round of Group D matches on Matchday 6. Danish side Copenhagen are in the driving seat heading into Tuesday’s matches as they area point ahead of Rubin and enjoy home advantage for the visit of Greek side Panathinaikos.

Copenhagen won 2-0 the last time the two sides clashed on Matchday 2 so a home win is expected. Rubin Kazan face the onerous task of travelling to the Camp Nou in search of a win to qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament. They will be met by a Barcelona side still enjoying the afterglow of a memorable 5-0 thumping of Real Madrid and most recently an away victory at Osasuna. The Russian side held the free-scoring Catalan’s to a 1-1 draw earlier in the group but will need a miraculous performance and result to get the better of one of the most feared sides in world football right now.

Prediction

Barcelona to continue their magnificent domestic form with a Champions League victory over Rubin Kazan while FC Copenhagen should get their expected win at home to Panathinaikos to secure the runners-up spot.

Barcelona has already secured top spot in Group D and FC Copenhagen will qualify as runners-up following the Matchday 6 results.

Ger McCarthy is author of the book entitled ‘Off Centre Circle’ about a lifetime spent playing amateur football in Ireland. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here.

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