It's that time again: The Champions League is heating up.
As the group stages wind down, some teams are well on their way to the Round of 16 while others have their backs against the wall and have no choice but to win by the time Wednesday is over. That should make for a pretty good slate of games to watch on Wednesday, when some of the highlights will be a Group D matchup between Manchester City and Real Madrid, and Arsenal versus Montpellier in Group B.
How will Real Madrid—the most frequent champion in the history of the Champions League, with nine titles—fare on Wednesday? They currently sit in second place in Group D, one point behind Borussia Dortmund, which faces Ajax on Wednesday. Manchester City—in last place in Group D with just two points—are on life support and desperately need a win in order to move on.
Can they pull off the upset against one of the strongest teams in the history of the tournament? We'll soon find out.
Here's what to watch for as the group action wraps up on Wednesday.
Schedule of Games (via ESPN.com)
|Group||Time||Team 1||Team 2|
|A||2:45 p.m. ET||Dynamo Kiev||Paris Saint-Germain|
|A||2:45 p.m. ET||FC Porto||Dinamo Zagreb|
|B||2:45 p.m. ET||Arsenal||Montpellier|
|B||2:45 p.m. ET||Schalke 04||Olympiakos|
|C||12 p.m. ET||Zenit St. Petersburg||Malaga|
|C||2:45 p.m. ET||Anderlecht||AC Milan|
|D||2:45 p.m. ET||Ajax Amsterdam||Borussia Dortmund|
|D||2:45 p.m. ET||Manchester City||Real Madrid|
You can see the current Champions League standings here.
What They're Saying
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a bit worried that his team—currently in second place in the Group B standings with seven points, one behind Schalke 04—is going to get a bit too comfortable, and that could cost them. Olympiakos is breathing right down Arsenal's neck with six points, making it a near necessity for the Gunners to to beat Montpellier on Wednesday.
And despite the fact that Montpellier has already been eliminated, Wenger isn't taking anything for granted, nor should his players. The manager told the BBC: "Montpellier had a slow start, but they have rediscovered their balance over the last few months."
Meanwhile, FC Barcelona's Gerard Pique was feeling pretty good after his squad took care of Spartak Moskva 3-0 in Group G on Tuesday:
Going to the hotel after training. Great memories at Luzhniki Stadium when we won the Champions League Final 2008 against Chelsea! #United— Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) November 19, 2012
Here's a qualification breakdown for each group in the tournament, courtesy of ESPN.com's Dale Johnson.
According to Goal.com's Alfie Meekings, Sergio Aguero of Manchester City isn't giving up hope yet, despite the fact that the odds seemed to be stacked against his side. He still believes his club can come up with a big win to keep hope alive, as long as it maintains a positive attitude.
Aguero said, "We should never give up. Where there's a will, there's a way, right? Of course, it's harder now because we’re not just relying on ourselves but also on the other teams' results."
Game of the Day
It's Manchester City vs. Real Madrid, obviously. Anything could happen in this game and it has huge implications for both sides. Unfortunately for Manchester City, there's some bad news: Not only do they desperately need a win, but they will now most likely be without striker Mario Balotelli because of a "back problem," according to the Mirror.
Defender Gael Clichy will also miss the game due to an ankle injury, according to the BBC.
With the injuries piling up and morale seemingly plummeting, you have to wonder what kind of state Manchester City is going to be in when these two teams square off on Wednesday.
But the more you hear, the more this seems like it's in the bag for Real.