4 Issues to Watch in the Champions League on Wednesday
Wednesday's UEFA Champions League slate boasts some remarkable duels, with Manchester City, Juventus, Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain all in action.
Here, we take a deeper look at some of the day's biggest potential talking points and things to look out for, starting with the early game in Russia.
CSKA Moscow's Scoring Woes
CSKA Moscow are in atrocious form right now, losing four of their last six games in the Russian Premier League and failing to score in their last five.
Seydou Doumbia's absence due to injury has been a big factor in the misfirings, but for a club of this calibre to go five games without netting is nothing short of appalling.
As a result, Manchester City will be licking their lips flying into Moscow, knowing their opponents sustained a demoralising 2-0 loss to Zenit St. Petersburg on Friday and represent a shell of their former selves.
Doumbia came off the bench against Zenit, but his fitness is still rather questionable right now, and while Igor Akinfeev looks set to shore up the goalkeeper position, that doesn't help at the other end of the pitch.
Even with a second-string centre-back pairing of Matija Nastasic and Joleon Lescott/Javi Garcia, it's difficult to foresee the Russian outfit scoring enough goals to ever trouble a three-point haul.
When will Leonid Slutsky's charges turn the page?
What is usually a concrete, solid defensive presence has simply evaporated in the Champions League this season.
The Bianconeri have drawn both their games so far and conceded three (scrappy) goals in the process, leaving them in an unenviable situation behind a dominant Real Madrid in Group B.
Conceding to Copenhagen was not in the game plan, and surrendering a late lead to Umut Bulut and Galatasaray has placed immense scrutiny on Giorgio Chiellini and co.
Antonio Conte has failed to find his side's balance since Paul Pogba began starting and Carlos Tevez joined in the summer, and perhaps instability further forward has effected the Old Lady's back line.
It will be interesting to see how Antonio Conte fits Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba in should the former be passed fit, and whether Simone Padoin continues on the right after a poor showing in Fiorentina.
Whatever the selections ahead, Chiellini, Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci are under pressure to up their standards—particularly now they travel to the Bernabeu to take on Carlo Ancelotti's Blancos.
Manchester United's Nerve
It's fair to say the first eight weeks of the season haven't gone to plan for David Moyes, and although the Scot remains steadfast in the face of criticism, the fans are undoubtedly worried.
Southampton's late equaliser at Old Trafford flattened the crowd on Saturday, and the atmosphere was something akin to pure disbelief: United score late goals, they don't concede them!
Real Sociedad is hardly the ideal team to welcome in this scenario, as Carlos Vela leads a rapier-like attack capable of punishing you with pace and precision.
Jitters from the crowd carry over and into the team, and Old Trafford's certifiable lack of belief in Moyes could go as far as to shape the type of game the reigning champions play.
Score early and you're golden, but the longer la Real hold out, the more dangerous they'll become.
United need to turn a corner, and Jagoba Arraste's side represent the perfect potential tonic should they fumble their way over the line.
How Good Are Bayern B?
Wednesday night sees Bayern Munich host Viktoria Plzen, and given the relative strength of the two squads, we can expect Pep Guardiola to rotate heavily.
The issue here isn't any of Bayern's concern—it's a positive if a second-string selection can destroy Viktoria—but more an issue for everyone else.
Die Bayern had a strong, deep squad last season and beat everything that moved in convincing fashion. They're even stronger now, boast more options and look to be gaining steam.
If an XI containing Jan Kirchhoff, Daniel van Buyten, Mario Goetze and Mario Mandzukic is capable of besting their Czech opponents comfortably, yet Chelsea can lose at home to Basel, we're all in trouble aren't we?
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