The UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday for Matchday 3 of the 2015-16 season, with several clubs already in dire need of a win in order to maintain their respective chances of advancing to the knockout stages.
Arsenal will host German champions Bayern Munich in a must-win match at the Emirates Stadium, knowing full well a loss opens the door for one of Dinamo Zagreb or Olympiakos to steal second place in Group F. Chelsea's situation isn't as dire, but a loss at Dynamo Kyiv could be devastating.
Here's a look at the upcoming group schedule, complete with live steam info and predictions.
|20 October||Arsenal||Bayern Munich||1-3||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||BATE||Barcelona||0-2||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||Bayer Leverkusen||AS Roma||1-0||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||D. Zagreb||Olympiakos||2-1||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||Dyn. Kyiv||Chelsea||2-2||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||FC Porto||Maccabi Tel Aviv||3-0||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||Valencia||Gent||2-0||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|20 October||Zenit St. Petersburg||Lyon||1-1||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Atl. Madrid||FC Astana||2-0||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||CSKA Moscow||Manchester United||1-1||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Galatasaray||Benfica||1-0||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Juventus||B. Monchengladbach||2-0||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Malmo FF||Shakhtar||0-3||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Manchester City||Sevilla||2-1||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Paris SG||Real Madrid||1-1||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
|21 October||Wolfsburg||PSV||2-1||BT Sport Extra (UK)/Fox Soccer 2Go (U.S.)|
There's no such thing as a small match in the Champions League, but looking at the schedule for Matchday 3, one clash in particular stands out: Bayern's visit to the Emirates to take on Arsenal on Tuesday.
The Bavarians have been in impeccable form early in the 2015-16 season, looking like an unstoppable juggernaut heading for major silverware. As shared by B/R UK, the Gunners' challenge is enormous:
Even Gunners manager Arsene Wenger acknowledged it will take “something special” for his team to beat the Bundesliga leaders, as reported by Goal's Dom Farrell: “We play against a big team, but we have proved ourselves from a bad position in the Champions League and we want to make something special against Bayern because that's the only way we can stay in the race.”
Arsenal have been in superb form themselves of late and go into the game off a 3-0 win over Watford in which Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez both showed they're nearing peak form. But led by Robert Lewandowski, arguably the most in-form striker in all of football, Bayern will be gunning for another lopsided win.
A loss at the Emirates would put Arsenal at least four points behind Group F's second-placed team and possibly six. The Gunners' next match will be at the Allianz Arena, where Bayern present an even tougher challenge, and if one of Olympiakos or Dinamo walks away from their double-header with four or more points, Arsenal could be all but eliminated by the end of Matchday 4.
And per ESPN Stats & Info, history says Bayern are on the verge of doing something special:
Manchester City have been in solid form as well of late, battering Bournemouth 5-1 on Saturday without the injured Sergio Aguero. Manuel Pellegrini's men will have to carry that momentum into a tricky must-win match against Sevilla on Wednesday.
The Spaniards have bounced back from their ugly start to the campaign, winning two of their last three games in La Liga. That includes a 2-1 win over Barcelona, in which the Europa League holders showed they can defend with numbers and strike with pace or on set pieces.
Coupled with City's European struggles, Wednesday's match could be a bit of a trap game. City blogger View from a Blue sounded cynical when looking ahead to the double-header:
As far as form and pure talent goes, City should beat Sevilla with relative ease. Raheem Sterling's first-half hat-trick against the Cherries was impressive, but given his consistent form, summer signing Kevin De Bruyne will be expected to play a key role, via OptaJoe:
Elsewhere, Manchester United face a difficult trip to Russia to take on CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. CSKA are running away with the Russian Premier League, already leading the league by five points over city rivals Lokomotiv, and they felt comfortable enough to rest a handful of starters in their 3-2 win over Ural on Saturday.
Moscow had its first snowfall earlier in October, and while BBC weather predicts it will be dry on Wednesday, the temperatures will be low enough to give the home side a distinct advantage. With the key Premier League clash against City on the horizon, manager Louis van Gaal will face a difficult choice between resting one or two players or going all out in Moscow.
Finally, Chelsea travel to Ukraine on Tuesday to take on Dynamo Kyiv, who suffered a painful 3-0 loss against Shakhtar Donetsk on Friday. The Blues could use a big win to continue growing their momentum after the 2-0 triumph over Aston Villa last time out, but it won't be easy: Shakhtar are the only team to beat Dynamo at home in an official match since February 2014.