UEFA Champions League: Complete Guide to Wednesday's Champions League Matches

Dan TalintyreSenior Analyst IIOctober 3, 2012

UEFA Champions League: Complete Guide to Wednesday's Champions League Matches

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    After eight scintillating matches yesterday in the UEFA Champions League, Wednesday sees another eight fall our way as the remaining teams complete their Week 2 matches.

    Regardless of what happened in the opening week of competition, the matches this week provide teams with the opportunity to work their way up the group standings and put themselves in contention for qualification later on in the tournament.

    Which of Europe's top teams will thrive, and which could potentially fall in their second match in the UEFA Champions League? Read on to find a complete preview of the remanding eight matches set to take place this week.

Zenit St. Petersburg vs. AC Milan

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    12:00 p.m. ET at Stadion Petrovski, St Petersburg, Russia

    After a strong win away from home in the opening round of competition, Russian club Zenit St. Petersburg will be looking to consolidate their status on top of the group with a win at home against struggling club AC Milan.

    The Italian giants were held scoreless at the San Siro by Anderlecht in their first Champions League fixture, continuing their poor start to the 2012-13 season.

    Milan have only managed two wins from their opening seven domestic league fixtures, and they were recently held to a draw away from home by Parma in the Serie A. And if they can't win that fixture, they don't look likely to do all that well on their trip to Russia.

    Zenit might be a strange club with some weird happenings, but a win here would place them on top of their Champions League group. Which, with all the financial and off-field issues, would be a huge step forward for the Russian club and one that they need to take to justify their crazy summer spendings and get their season back on track.

    Zenit St. Petersburg 2, AC Milan 1

Manchester City vs. Borussia Dortmund

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester, England

    Manchester City lost 3-2 at the Bernabeau in their opening fixture—arguably the match of the round—and will take on German champions Borussia Dortmund at home in the second week.

    It's a huge match for the Citizens, who need a win to stay close to the top of the group and give themselves a chance at qualification. Their group is ridiculously tough, and thus, winning their home fixtures will be pertinent to their qualification aspirations later on in the tournament.

    But Borussia Dortmund will be no easybeats, with a talented, attacking squad ready to trouble a defensive unit that hasn't kept a clean sheet this season and has looked very fragile at times. Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski will both be key players in this one, and City will have a tough time keeping them under wraps throughout the match.

    At home, you'd have to favor Manchester City, but I think the reigning German champions will make this one far closer than many expect. Roberto Mancini's men haven't been as spectacular at home as they were last season and have almost dropped points to lowly Queens Park Rangers and Southampton so far this season.

    I think they might drop another two in this one.

    Manchester City 2, Borussia Dortmund 2

Ajax vs. Real Madrid

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands

    With Dortmund facing a tough away fixture to Manchester City, Real Madrid could move to an outright first in their group with a win away from home against Ajax.

    The reigning Dutch champions were undone in the final minutes against Dortmund, losing that match 2-1. And with no easy games in this group, they know that they must win at home if they stand any chance at progressing through to the knockout rounds.

    But it is hard to see that happening for Ajax here, even though they are at home. Jose Mourinho's men are class acts in world football and, despite their slow start in La Liga, recently hit five goals on the weekend in their crushing victory over Deportivo.

    Cristiano Ronaldo netted a hat trick in that game, as Los Blancos tried to make a statement that they are still a genuine threat in La Liga this year. Perhaps a big win here will make a similar statement in the Champions League for Real Madrid.

    Ajax 0, Real Madrid 3

Dynamo Kyiv vs. Dinamo Zagreb

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at NSK Olimpiyskyi, Kyiv, Ukraine

    Both teams enter this match after a loss in the opening round. But they know that, with AC Milan nowhere near the competitive threat that they appeared to be at the start the season, their chances at qualification are nowhere near finished.

    The Ukrainian side appears to be too good for their opponents in this one—at home, and in fine form throughout the domestic season.

    They currently sit second behind Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukrainian Premier League, have only conceded seven goals through their opening 10 matches and been beaten once at home throughout all competitions this season.

    Zagreb might be on top of the Croatian Prva HNL, but they aren't up to the same level as the home side in this one. They will go down without much of a fight here.

    Dynamo Kyiv 2, Dinamo Zagreb 0

Porto vs. Paris St. Germain

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at Estádio do Dragão, Porto, Portugal

    Having both recorded big wins in their opening fixtures, both Porto and PSG can move to the top of the table with a result in this one, putting them in great contention for qualification through to the knockout rounds later in the tournament.

    Porto have yet to be beaten this season and have won every match they've played at home—sentiments that cannot be said for Paris St. Germain, who have largely failed to justify their incredulous summer spending balance with on-field results.

    The French club opened their season with three consecutive draws—two of which were scoreless and two of which were at home. And while their form does seem to have improved lately, it's hard to see them beating a quality opponent like Porto.

    Their strong defense will keep the scoreline tight, but in reality, they'll never really be in it. Even with Zlatan Ibrahimovic up front.

    Porto 1, Paris St. Germain 0

Schalke vs. Montpellier

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at Arena AufSchalke, Gelsenkirchen, Germany

    After failing to capitalize on their opportunities against Arsenal in their first match, Montpellier must make the journey across the border to Germany in desperate need of three points to get their Champions League campaign underway.

    Schalke picked up a huge win over Olympiacos in Greece two weeks ago and thus will be full of confidence heading into their home fixture against the reigning French champions, who have struggled so far this season domestically.

    With just two wins from seven matches—against two very low-ranking teams—Montpellier look to be completely out of the running in Ligue 1 this year and, at times, appear bereft of creativity other than Younes Belhanda.

    That won't help them away from home in this one, with the German side already picking up two wins from three matches there so far this season. Their one loss came against Bayern Munich who, no offense to Montpellier, are simply in a different class to their opponents in this one.

    Schalke should win comfortably and put themselves in a strong position for qualification from the group stages.

    Schalke 3, Montpellier 0

Arsenal vs. Olympiakos

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at Arsenal Stadium, London, England

    After a tough loss to Chelsea at home on the weekend, Arsenal will look to bounce back with a strong performance against Olympiakos in the Champions League—a match that the Gunners should win comfortably.

    Arsene Wenger will most likely rest several players, but the North London club have seemingly enough depth and talent to get the job done in this one, regardless of who they do actually play on the pitch. They will know that with a big win, they would most likely put themselves on top of their group and in a great spot for qualification later on in the tournament.

    Olympiakos manager Leonardo Jardim has already conceded that his team's backs are up against the wall and that playing Arsenal in England will be "particularly hard" (per UEFA.com), which surely doesn't inspire a whole lot of confidence for the away side.

    Back Olivier Giroud to grab a double in this one with a recall to the starting side, as the Gunners defense shows once again that it will be incredibly tough to break down this season. 

    Arsenal 3, Olympiakos 0

Anderlecht vs. Malaga

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    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    2:45 p.m. ET at Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Brussels, Belgium

    With AC Milan nowhere near the dominant force that many thought they would be, both teams know that their qualification dreams are still very much possible heading into their second Champions League match, despite very different results in their opening matches.

    Anderlecht played well to contain Milan at the San Siro, picking up a point and heading back home with momentum and belief that they can succeed this season.

    However, standing in their way is Malaga, who continue to threaten as a third possible superpower in La Liga and in Spanish football. Yet to be defeated this season, Malaga were very solid in their 3-0 over Zenit St. Petersburg in the opening Champions League round. They look to be the team to beat in this one, despite being away from home.

    Isco could run riot through the Anderlecht midfield in this one. And if Malaga can establish their attacking potency down the center of the pitch early, they'll be very tough to bring under wraps. 

    Throw in the fact that they're yet to concede a goal away from home, and it looks very likely that the Spanish giants will record their second win in as many matches in the Champions League this season.

    Anderlecht 0, Malaga 1

     

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