Champions League play will continue on Wednesday with several high-profile matches. Although the tournament is still in the early part of the group stage, the fixtures are going to have a lasting impact on which clubs advance and seeding for the knockout round.
Ultimately, it's that immediate pressure that makes the Champions League intriguing. Elite clubs that get off to slow starts in league play have plenty of time to turn things around. That isn't the case in the UCL, where a few poor results could be enough to end title hopes.
Every point matters, especially with so many talented squads in the event. So let's take a look at some of the top matches on tap for the second matchday for Groups A-D. For a complete look at the tournament schedule, visit the UCL's official site.
Manchester City vs. Bayern Munich
It will be interesting to see which version of Manchester City shows up for the match: the one that dropped a match to Aston Villa over the weekend or the one that scored three straight dominating victories, including one over rival Manchester United.
If City are going to compete with the defending champions, even at home, it must be the latter. Bayern are rolling yet again, going undefeated through their first eight matches across Bundesliga and Champions League play.
Those results don't come as a surprise, of course. With Arjen Robben, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer and a cast of other stars, they are built to continue their reign over Europe. They have a chance to steal three points on the road, but look for City to bounce back strong to secure a draw.
Prediction: Manchester City 2, Bayern Munich 2
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Manchester United
Manchester United are a squad in turmoil. Every time it seems like they find the light at the end of the tunnel, they suffer another setback. Dropping a match at home to West Brom is the latest—and perhaps most worrisome—example.
Which is the best match on tap for Wednesday?
Talent isn't an issue. Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney provide the star power, and United have enough depth behind them to compete for another Premier League title. But new manager David Moyes is struggling to find the right combination.
Shakhtar Donetsk must take advantage of those struggles. The Hirnyky were very impressive in a road triumph over Real Sociedad as Alex Teixeira struck twice. A similar performance should net them three points and a spot all alone atop Group A.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 2, Manchester United 1
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Benfica
Paris Saint-Germain continue to trend in the right direction. After making steady progress in recent years, they finally seem ready to make a deep Champions League run. The addition of Edinson Cavani was exactly what PSG needed to take that next step.
Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic give the club two proven goalscorers to go along with a solid supporting cast. It means opponents, especially the upper-echelon ones in the later stages, won't be able to key in on slowing down one player as a way to slow down the PSG attack.
Benfica showed against Anderlecht that a trip to the knockout rounds is likely. But Luisao and company are a step behind PSG right now. Furthermore, a home draw with Belenenses in the final match before heading to face the French stars doesn't bode well.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 2, Benfica 1