The Champions League has already advanced to the final week of group play. This means there will be teams clawing for three points to secure their advancement into the next stage of competition or simply to help secure their position for the next stage.
In this shimmering spotlight, the stage is set for players to carve out their legends.
Check out my full picks for Matchday 6, and then I'll highlight the three players I expect to shine the brightest in these upcoming matches.
|Real Sociedad vs. Bayer Leverkusen||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||0-1|
|Manchester United vs. Shakhtar Donetsk||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||2-1|
|Galatasaray vs. Juventus||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||2-2|
|Copenhagen vs. Real Madrid||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-3|
|Benfica vs. PSG||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-1|
|Olympiakos vs. Anderlecht||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||2-1|
|Bayern Munich vs. Manchester City||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||3-2|
|Viktoria Plzen vs. CSKA Moscow||Tuesday, Dec. 10||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-2|
|Schalke vs. Basel||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||2-2|
|Chelsea vs. Steaua Bucharest||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||3-1|
|Marseille vs. Borussia Dortmund||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-2|
|Napoli vs. Arsenal||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-2|
|Austria Wien vs. Zenit St. Petersburg||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-3|
|Atletico Madrid vs. Porto||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-0|
|Milan vs. Ajax||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||1-1|
|Barcelona vs. Celtic||Wednesday, Dec. 11||7:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ET||3-0|
Robin van Persie, Manchester United
Manchester United have been scuffling a bit in the Premier League. In the Champions League, however, they've been cruising along. United sit three points clear in their group of second-place Shakhtar Donetsk. That is the same Shakhtar Donetsk that Robin van Persie will help the Red Devils send to defeat in Matchday 6.
Who will win?
The Dutch striker recently returned to fitness and the pitch to grab his first action since Nov. 10, as the Red Devils fell to Newcastle at Old Trafford this past Sunday.
That match, van Persie was not able to enjoy playing alongside Wayne Rooney since Rooney was forced to miss the match due to a suspension. Rooney and van Persie should be reunited for this match, and the multi-faceted attack will open up space for van Persie.
Donetsk have been stingy in Champions League play, having allowed just five goals in group play. They have yet to face an attack with the firepower of United, however, and van Persie will test goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov early and often on his way to picking up a brace.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid
With a seven-point lead in Group B, Real Madrid have already accomplished the heavy lifting of group play. This certainly strips their match with Copenhagen of urgency, but talisman Cristiano Ronaldo can score non-urgent goals as well as urgent ones.
There is simply no stopping this superstar. Ronaldo has scored at least one goal in each of his last seven matches, including an iconic hat trick against Sweden to lift Portugal into the World Cup.
Ronaldo could add another hat trick in this game. Coppenhagen have picked up just four points in group play and have allowed 11 goals.
With eight combined goals in his last four UCL contests, Ronaldo has been making easy work of the Champions League. That will continue in this match.
Mario Gotze, Bayern Munich
In one of Matchday 6's most anticipated encounters, Bayern Munich will host Manchester City, as the two leaders of Group D clash.
Although the Citizens have the firepower to deal with the German powerhouse, Manchester City have not been nearly as effective on the road as they have been at home.
Given this, I was able to select Munich with confidence to win this match, and Mario Gotze will be a big reason why.
First, we must get this out of the way: The 21-year-old has a slight health concern, but it doesn't sound like it should keep him out of action.
Meanwhile, it doesn't sound like Munich will face a full-strength City side.
As Alex Fisher of Goal.com noted, City boss Manuel Pellegrini is on record as saying he will feature some squad players as he keeps his eye on Saturday's Premier League battle with Arsenal. He also noted that struggling Joe Hart would be in goal.
All of this paves the way for a victory by Bayern, and Gotze, as he often is, will be at the center of it.
As Fisher also noted, Munich will be without Arjen Robben. This will put even more emphasis on Gotze's playmaking, and he will dazzle.