UEFA Champions League: Complete Guide to Tuesday's Champions League Matches

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IISeptember 18, 2012

UEFA Champions League: Complete Guide to Tuesday's Champions League Matches

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    The hunt for European glory is on again as the UEFA Champions League group stages kick off Tuesday, with 32 clubs dreaming of becoming the champions of the continent this year.

    They'll all play their first group match in the next two days—half Tuesday, the other half Wednesday—and we've got a complete preview of each one.

    Let's take a look at the eight matches we'll see Tuesday in the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League competition.

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Porto

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, Croatia

    Group: Group A

    Dinamo Zagreb were bundled out of last year's Champions League without a single point to their name in the group stages. They will be looking to step it up this year, though they will face some tough competition to emerge from Group A and into the knockout stages.

    FC Porto will be one of the teams to beat in this group and will come to Croatia under the belief that if they can win this away match, they'll put themselves in a strong position to qualify through to the next stage. They might have sold star striker Hulk over the summer transfer window, but their side is not at all bereft of attacking talent—they can definitely get the job done here.

    Players like Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez should give the visitors enough firepower to pick up all three points in this one.

    Prediction: Dinamo Zagreb 0, Porto 1

Paris St. Germain vs. Dynamo Kiev

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: Parc des Princes, Paris, France 

    Group: Group A

    Paris St. Germain spent lots and lots of money over the summer transfer window, with the sole goal of becoming a dominant force in Europe. And whilst they might not have started domestic league play in ideal fashion, the Champions League is what matters for PSG, and you can expect them to start strongly over their less-fancied opponents.

    With a squad boasting the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ezequiel Lavezzi, Jeremy Menez, Thiago Silva and Gregory van der Wiel, PSG no doubt have both the attacking talent and defensive strength to progress through the group stages, and perhaps even cause a surprise or two in the knockout stages.

    Prediction: Paris St. Germain 3, Dynamo Kiev 0

Montpellier vs. Arsenal

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: La Mosson, Montpellier, France

    Group: Group B

    After struggling early in the year to get their goal-scoring going, Arsenal have seemingly found the attacking dominance that they promised with the summer signings of Lukas Podolski, Santi Cazorla and Olivier Giroud and will enter this match full of confidence after dispatching of Southampton 6-1.

    Gunners striker Olivier Giroud made a transfer from Montpellier over the summer, and whilst he is yet to find himself a goal in the Premier League, he has a great chance to get his goal scoring underway against his former club.

    Younes Belhanda will be the man to watch for the home side, with the playmaker seemingly holding the key to the club's Champions League success this season. 

    And although the Gunners might have received a lot of negative press throughout the transfer window and early in the season, they have only conceded one game, haven't been beaten, and sit third in the Premier League table behind Chelsea and Manchester United. Arsenal are a strong team and are finally starting to come together; they should have too much class for their French opponents.

    Prediction: Montpellier 0, Arsenal 1

Olympiacos vs. Schalke

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: Georgios Karaiskakis Stadium, Piraeus, Greece

    Group: Group B

    The other Group B match will see Olympiacos play host to Schalke, with both sides liking their chances to get past the group stage.

    The home side is coming off a very successful league campaign, winning the cup double, but they must cope with the loss of star striker Kevin Mirallas to Everton.

    Schalke 04 finished an impressive third in the Bundesliga last season, and whilst they are by no means one of the strongest teams in this year's competition, they do have good depth and could replicate their run of a couple seasons ago.

    I'm calling a huge victory for the away side here—more in terms of what it means for the club and the group-stage dynamics than anything else.

    Prediction: Olympiacos 1, Schalke 2

Malaga vs. Zenit St. Petersburg

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: La Rosaleda, Malaga, Spain

    Group: Group C

    After a tumultuous summer that saw the club exposed for their financial difficulties and also saw their star midfielder Santi Cazorla leave for Arsenal, Malaga will be desperate and playing with a chip on their shoulder all season long.

    They'll take on Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg, who picked up Hulk and Axel Witsel on the final few days of the summer transfer window. 

    And whilst both of those players will help the Russian side, I can't help but see this as a statement game for Malaga. At home, desperate to prove that they're still a threat in both the Spanish and European competitions, I think they'll be too good for their opponents.

    Prediction: Malaga 2, Zenit St. Petersburg 0

AC Milan vs. Anderlecht

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, Milan, Italy

    Group: Group C

    Another club that witnessed a tumultuous summer transfer window and the departures of a plethora of players (namely, Antonio Cassano and Zlatan Ibrahmovic), AC Milan enter this one as the clear Group C favorites and should indeed have no trouble progressing past Anderlecht and the group stages of the competition.

    AC Milan head man Massimiliano Allegri appreciates just how significant the Champions League can be for all sides involved, so expect the Italian giants to start strongly in front of their home crowd and pick up all three competition points in comfortable fashion to kick off their tournament campaign.

    Prediction: AC Milan 4, Anderlecht 0

Borussia Dortmund vs. Ajax

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: BVB Stadion Dortmund, Dortmund

    Group: Group D

    If Borussia Dortmund are to have any chance of progressing out of this year's Group of Death, then they definitely need to win this home match against Ajax—who, despite being the Dutch champions, are simply not on the same level as Manchester City and Real Madrid.

    The Eredivisie club lost some key players during the offseason, but with Christian Eriksen on their side, it's tough to count out the possibility of Ajax causing some havoc against Dortmund.

    Having said that, Dortmund will know how crucial it is to gain points from this tilt, and will get the job done at home.

    Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2, Ajax 0

Real Madrid vs. Manchester City

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    When: Tuesday, September 18 at 2:45 p.m. ET

    Where: Estadio Santiago Bernabéu, Madrid, Spain

    Group: Group D

    The champions of England travel to take on the champions of Spain in what is easily the most exciting and fascinating matchup on Tuesday's Champions League slate. Both clubs enter this fixture seeking to gain some confidence and momentum, and to get the winning feeling back in their club again.

    Madrid have started La Liga season in terrible fashion, whilst City have also dropped points in two matches so far this year. And with their away form questionable at best, the Citizens will be hard-pressed to earn a victory at the Bernabeu.

    Jose Mourinho—love him, hate him or simply don't understand him—is a world-class manager and can get the best out of his team on the biggest stages. I think this is the match that Madrid comes good, with their defense simply smothering City's attack and forcing them to defend the entire match. And with the talent that they have in their squad, it's hard not to see Real Madrid finding the back of the net—even with the defensive strength of Manchester City.

    The Spanish giants could send a statement here that they are still definitely contenders in both the Spanish and European competitions this season. A big win over Manchester City would do exactly that.

    Prediction: Real Madrid 3, Manchester City 0

    Any predictions for Tuesday's Champions League matches?

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