The Champions League is back this week! Following the international break we saw a fantastic weekend in the Premier League but now comes the greatest club competition on the planet with match-day 3 of the UEFA Champions League. Let’s have a look at some of the games that face the British club’s representing the Premier League across Europe.
CSKA Moscow v Manchester City, 21 October, 5pm
Manchester City make the long journey to Russia this week as they face CSKA Moscow behind closed doors in a 5pm kick off. The TV cameras will be the only spectators at the match as CSKA were hit by a UEFA fan ban in the Champions League for racist chanting. Man City boss Manuel Pellegrini agreed the game will be more difficult without supporters there but also knows he is in for a tough trip against good opposition.
Pellegrini said: “It is a pity that we cannot play with fans. This is a showpiece for fans. It will be a very strange game, with only the players shouting on the pitch.” Well he has now announced his squad with Sergio Aguero looking to continue his 4 goal haul against Spurs, partnered by Edin Dzeko up front. Frank Lampard misses the game with a thigh injury meaning Yaya Toure and Fernando start in the middle, flanked by James Milner and David Silva. The centre half pairing will be Vincent Kompany and Eliaquim Mangala, protecting Joe Hart between the sticks. Make sure you tune in and see what I think will be a 1-3 Manchester City victory.
Chelsea v NK Maribor, 21 October, 7:45pm
Chelsea have the easiest tie of their Champions League campaign as Slovenian side NK Maribor visit Stamford Bridge this evening. Chelsea have 4 points from their first 2 games and will already be confident of qualification as Maribor sit 2nd in Group G, 2 points behind José Mourinho’s men.
Diego Costa missed the weekend’s 2-1 victory over Crystal Palace with a hamstring problem, breaking many hearts of those with fantasy teams. Maybe it’s wise to move quickly and remove him from your Champions League fantasy team with the Spanish international set to miss tonight too. Didier Drogba would love to start the game at Stamford Bridge, a ground where he is a legend but Loic Remy is also pushing for a starting place giving Mourinho a nice problem to deal with. I foresee a walkover, 3-0 Chelsea.
Liverpool v Real Madrid, 22 October, 7:45pm
Liverpool spent a number of season desperate to return to the Champions League, Europe’s premier competition but perhaps tomorrow night’s game will punish them. Their start to the season has been incredibly disappointing and they just managed to see off QPR at Loftus Road this weekend. Now the current title holders visit Anfield and will look to increase their dominance of Group B.
Brendan Rodgers was given a boost when Real Madrid announced that world record signing Gareth Bale will miss the game. The Welshman is also a doubt for El Clasico but now Liverpool have one less threat to worry about… although the replacements will still strike fear in Reds’ supporter’s hearts. Liverpool are without a freshly injured Daniel Sturridge and need a result after their loss to Basel away. Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling will be looked to for performances, the former coming under increased criticism. Sorry Liverpool fans but for me this is all about Real Madrid, 0-2 to the Champions.
Anderlecht v Arsenal, 22 October, 7:45pm
Arsene Wenger takes his Gunners to Belgium tomorrow evening with Anderlecht awaiting their visit. Arsenal failed to beat Hull City at home this weekend with Danny Welbeck recusing a late point in injury time. Arsenal are currently 2nd in Group D with 3 points after their good win over Galatasaray. Borussia Dortmund lead the group with 6 points out of 6 and the North-Londoners must keep pressure eon their German counterparts with a win.
Wenger admitted and then later denied in a BBC interview his squad has defensive frailties as the goals keep finding his net. This game will not help the fitness of some of his defenders as youngster Hector Bellerin is expected to play again at full-back. Per Mertesacker and Nacho Monreal started at centre-half versus Hull, will this be the case again? Meanwhile the return of Aaron Ramsey and Mikel Arteta seems promising so they may play a role from the bench. I think Arsenal can take this if they play well, 1-2 perhaps.
(Picture: Arsenal’s club website)