Champions League Predictions 2013-14: Full Picks and Top Stars for Matchday 3
Champions League action picks back up with Matchday 3 providing an entertaining slate of matches for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Premier League leaders Arsenal host Bundesliga second-place squad Borussia Dortmund, and Jose Mourinho's Chelsea travel to take on a solid Schalke 04 club. Such matches ensure this will be an intriguing two days of soccer.
Check out the fixtures and my predictions for each, and then I'll highlight three stars I expect to shine in Matchday 3.
|Schalke 04||Chelsea||Veltins-Arena||Chelsea win, 1-0|
|Steaua Bucuresti||FC Basel||Stadionul Ghencea||Basel win, 2-1|
|Arsenal||Borussia Dortmund||Emirates Stadium||Arsenal win, 2-1|
|Marseille||Napoli||Stade Vélodrome||Napoli win, 2-0|
|Austria Vienna||Atletico Madrid||Generali Arena||Madrid win, 2-0|
|FC Porto||Zenit St Petersburg||Estadio do Dragao||Draw, 1-1|
|AC Milan||Barcelona||Stadio Giuseppe Meazza||Barca win, 3-1|
|Celtic||Ajax Amsterdam||Celtic Park||Draw, 2-2|
|Bayer Leverkusen||Shakhtar Donetsk||BayArena||Draw, 2-2|
|Manchester United||Real Sociedad||Old Trafford||United win, 2-0|
|Galatasaray||FC Copenhagen||Türk Telekom Arena||Draw, 1-1|
|Real Madrid||Juventus||Estadio Santiago Bernabéu||Madrid win, 2-1|
|Anderlecht||Paris Saint-Germain||Constant Vanden Stock||Paris win, 2-0|
|Benfica||Olympiakos||Estadio da Luz||Benefica win, 1-0|
|CSKA Moscow||Manchester City||Arena Khimki||Draw, 2-2|
|Bayern Munich||Viktoria Plzen||Allianz Arena||Munich win, 3-0|
Mesut Ozil, Arsenal
Mesut Ozil has had no problem fitting in with Arsenal. His brilliant playmaking has helped lead the Gunners to the top of the Premier League table, and the German has a match rating of eight at WhoScored.com.
This is not to suggest that Ozil has been a one-man army with Arsenal; surrounded by the likes of Aaron Ramsey, Jack Wilshere and Olivier Giroud, Ozil has plenty of talent around him.
Ozil will enter this match after scoring two goals in Arsenal's impressive 4-1 victory over Norwich City this past weekend, and the club will need him to come up big in this match against the defending runner-up in this competition.
Borussia Dortmund have been in fine form this year. They are 7-1-1 in Bundesliga play and are second in the table by a single point.
However, Dortmund haven't been in their finest form as of late. They won their last match with a 1-0 home effort over Hannover and fell 2-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach.
Meanwhile, the Gunners have 10 wins and two draws in their last 12 matches in all competitions.
Ozil will help Arsenal keep that fine form going in this one as he leads Arsenal to a 2-1 win.
Robin van Persie, Manchester United
Manchester United have been scuffling in Premier League play, but those struggles are humble compared to Real Sociedad.
In La Liga play, Sociedad have won just twice in their opening nine games, which leaves them in 11th in the La Liga table. Meanwhile, United have three wins in their eight Premier League matches and are in eighth.
The Red Devils sit tied atop the Group A standings with four points while Sociedad are still looking for their first point.
It won't come in this match—Robin van Persie won't allow it. The Dutch striker has been in excellent form. In World Cup qualifying he netted a hat-trick in the win over Hungary on Oct. 11. He also picked up a goal in United's draw with Southampton his last time on the pitch. That was a promising showing as it showed his recent injury won't derail him.
Van Persie will net both of the Red Devils' goals in what will be a 2-0 triumph.
Lionel Messi, Barcelona
Lionel Messi and Barcelona face an interesting challenge against AC Milan. Barcelona sit atop Group H after having yet to drop a point. However, AC Milan are right behind with four points, and they will hope playing at home will help them overtake Barca.
The problem for Milan is that Barca appear to have their sights set on making a statement in this match. A host of starters were rested against Osasuna this weekend. However, Lionel Messi got some run as he returns to health and appears ready to go for this match:
Good news in a big week for Barcelona - Lionel Messi should be fit to start at Milan as they prepare for the Clasico: http://t.co/dlA5WhDnER— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 21, 2013
Needless to say, I don't anticipate Messi struggling with rust. The legend has to be itching to get back to his prodigious ways and this is a nice stage for him to do so.
I expect an absolutely dominant performance from Messi and his teammates as they make a big statement with a 3-1 win.
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