Barcelona, Manchester United and Malaga are the only three clubs to have secured advancement to the knockout stages of this season's Champions League. That means the other teams have some work left to do starting on Tuesday.
Even though every UCL match has some level of intrigue to it, a couple on Tuesday stand out from the rest as matches that fans should be watching closely. Let's break down both of them and make predictions for how they will turn out.
Schalke vs. Arsenal
Schalke took control of Group B with a 2-0 road victory over Arsenal a couple of weeks ago and will now look to take a commanding lead on home turf. However, you can bet Arsene Wenger will have the Gunners ready to roll after some lackluster showings recently.
The most recent of these came on Saturday against Manchester United. Although the scoreline only reads as a 2-1 defeat, the margin was actually a lot larger in terms of overall play. A late Santi Cazorla goal made it look closer than it truly was.
One common theme in the early going from the Gunners has been inconsistent finishing ability. They have been able to control possession, but once the ball gets in the attacking third, the lack of a go-to striker has become painfully obvious.
It's something Schalke does have in the likes of Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who scored the winning goal in the first meeting between the clubs. Creating chances and finishing chances are two entirely different things, as Arsenal has found out the hard way.
While the Gunners should be expected to put up a better fight than they did last time, their form just hasn't been at a Champions League level as of late. Look for Schalke to take advantage of that to solidify their spot atop the group.
Prediction: 2-1 Schalke
Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund
As expected, the "Group of Death" has provided the tournament with the most interesting results so far. Borussia Dortmund leads the way through three matches with seven points, just ahead of Real Madrid, which has six. Right now, they would both advance.
Neither of these clubs can feel safe, however, because Manchester City likely has thoughts of running the table the second time through. They have to close the door before the Citizens make a miraculous comeback, which can't be entirely counted out.
After a slow start to the campaign, Madrid has got back on track after their win over City in mid-September. Los Blancos have dropped just one match since that point, a 2-1 loss in the first matchup with Dortmund.
Their form has been especially good as of late, winning the last three matches by a combined score of 13-1. That's the type of production that allowed Madrid to overtake rival Barcelona in La Liga last season, and should concern the Dortmund back line.
While Jurgen Klopp's various attacking options—from Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze—should make for an entertaining back-and-forth battle, Madrid should be able to defend home-field advantage to move into the Group D lead.
Prediction: 3-2 Real Madrid