Champions League 2013-14: Predictions and Preview for Wednesday's Vital Fixtures

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 11, 2013

PORTO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 1:  Cristian Rodriguez (L) of Club Atletico de Madrid is challenged by Alex Sandro of FC Porto during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between FC Porto and Club Atletico de Madrid held on October 1, 2013 at the Estadio do Dragao, in Porto, Portugal. (Photo by Miguel Riopa/EuroFootball/Getty Images)
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Following on from Tuesday's helping of European action, the Champions League onslaught doesn't stop there, as Wednesday's participants gear up to take centre stage.

The final eight matches of this year's group stage will tell us exactly which 16 teams we'll be seeing in the knockout phase of the competition, several of whom are currently hanging by a thread. 

Ahead of Wednesday evening's schedule, read on for a prediction of who will prevail and continue on in Europe's most prestigious tournament.

Champions League Week 6: Wednesday Predictions
FixtureDateTimeTV InfoPrediction
Schalke vs. BaselDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports Red Button (UK)2-2
Chelsea vs. Steaua BucharestDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports 3 (UK)4-1
Marseille vs. Borussia DortmundDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports Red Button (UK)1-2
Napoli vs. ArsenalDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports 2 (UK)1-1
Austria Wien vs. Zenit St. PetersburgDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports Red Button (UK)1-3
Atletico Madrid vs. PortoDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports Red Button (UK)1-0
Milan vs. AjaxDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports Red Button (UK)1-1
Barcelona vs. CelticDec. 117:45 p.m. GMT/2:45 p.m. ETSky Sports 4 (UK)3-0


Schalke vs. Basel

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 06:  Goalkeeper Timo Hildebrand of Schalke reacts during the UEFA Champions League Group E match between Chelsea and FC Schalke 04 at Stamford Bridge on November 6, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Schalke are going through a rough patch both on domestic shores and internationally this season, something which has played a big hand in the club currently occupying Group E's third spot.

A point ahead of Die Knappen are Basel, Schalke's Wednesday opponents, who need only draw at the Veltins-Arena in order to book their spot in the Round of 16.

The Swiss champions have already shown they're a capable outfit away from home by winning at Stamford Bridge earlier in the campaign, but the fixture is made even more interesting when one considers that Wednesday's German hosts managed to beat Basel on their own turf two months ago.

Now, Murat Yakin's side will seek redemption for that 1-0 defeat and will need to use the fact that Schalke will be hunting the three points to their advantage.

Prediction: Schalke 2-2 Basel


Napoli vs. Arsenal

If there's one group that deserves some added attention on Wednesday evening, it's the three-car pile up between Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and Napoli that's set to ensue in Group F.

The Gunners currently lead their aforementioned European foes by three points each, but they can still slip from the summit of their pool should they fail to snatch a draw in Naples.

Both Arsenal and Napoli are coming into this fixture on the back of drawn results, and Arsene Wenger's men will be keen to get back to winning ways, although coming out on top of their Champions League group would surely suffice.

Rafa Benitez's Napoli side have fallen off the pace in the Serie A title race this term and are the most likely of the trio to drop out of the competition.

If Dortmund beat Marseille, Napoli will need to beat Arsenal by a three-goal margin to take matters into their own hands. Split-screen viewing may be required.

Prediction: Napoli 1-1 Arsenal


Atletico Madrid vs. Porto

Two of the teams who have shone mainly on the Europa League stage for the last few years now find themselves pitted against one another at the peak of European football.

PORTO, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 1:  David Villa (R) of Club Atletico de Madrid is challenged by Fernando of FC Porto during the UEFA Champions League group stage match between FC Porto and Club Atletico de Madrid held on October 1, 2013 at the Estadio do Dragao
EuroFootball/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid have already guaranteed that they'll finish atop Group G, so it will be interesting to see how Diego Simeone lines up in the Spanish capital on Wednesday, one eye presumably on this Sunday's clash with Valencia.

Zenit St. Petersburg sit one point above Porto and have a far easier trip to Austria Wien on their hands. That means the Portuguese giants must earn a better result than Luciano Spalletti's Zenit, the Russians having scored more in their individual encounter with one another.

Porto will need to attack in Madrid, which makes for a tantalising contest.

Prediction: Atletico Madrid 1-0 Porto


Milan vs. Ajax

Milan's dismal start to the Serie A season is something that they'll be thankful hasn't yet affected their European efforts too badly, with Massimiliano Allegri's side losing just once in the group stage so far to leaders Barcelona.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 01:  Christian Poulsen of Ajax is beaten to the ball by Mario Balotelli of AC Milan during the UEFA Champions League Group H match between Ajax Amsterdam and AC Milan at Amsterdam Arena on October 1, 2013 in Amsterdam, Net
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Now, the Rossoneri are a point above Ajax, but they can give up their spot in second should they fail to get at least a point from their encounter.

Advancing to the next round of the competition would be one rare positive for Milan in what's otherwise been a dreary season, while Ajax will blame their inability to take chances prior to this meeting as the reason behind any collapse that might befall them.

The Godenzonen have already lost to both Barca and Celtic on their away trips and can make it nought for three on Wednesday evening, where a trip to the San Siro doesn't promise softer hospitality.

Prediction: Milan 1-1 Ajax