Yesterday’s predictions were not too far off the mark, with 3 of the 5 games called somewhat correctly. Juventus drew with Shakhtar Donetsk in a game that largely fizzled out towards the end but was interesting enough. While in Minsk, the shock of the round so far was BATE Borisov beating German high-fliers Bayern Munich 3-1, something I got completely wrong.
This evening, again, we have a number of games that on the face of it look quite interesting.
First up, Man City are at home to Borussia Dortmund who lie 3rd in the Bundesliga at present. City have had something of a stuttering start to the season and do not look as prolific or unstoppable as the did at times last season, however, Roberto Mancini has added a number of players to the team, notably Jovi Garcia from Benfica and Scott Sinclair from Swansea. The team has not lost in the Premiership so far, however, they did lose in the dying minutes of their opening fixture against the Special One’s Real Madrid in the Bernebeau, a game where they probably deserved to get something out of. This has meant that they will be under some considerable pressure to get a win this evening to stand a chance of progressing out of the group stage this year.
Dortmund are the current Bundesliga champions and are renowned for playing an electric passing game. They have lost Kagawa to Man Utd during the summer, however,, they have retained the services of Lewandowski who has been prolific over the past few seasons. Dortmund did not progress to the knock out stage either last season having lost at home to Olympic Marseille in the dying minutes so they will be keen to progress and be as successful in Europe as fierce rival, Bayern Munich.
My Prediction: Man City 2-1 Borussia Dortmund
At the Emirates this evening, Arsene Wenger’s men shall be facing Olympiakos of Greece. Arsenal have looked a lot better this season than common wisdom would have thought after losing their best player, Robin Van Persie, to league rivals Man Utd. Further, Song decided to up sticks and take the well trod path of previous Gunners to the Camp Nou. However, Wenger has brought in Santi Cazorla from Malaga together with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud. Jack Wilshere is coming back to form and Gervinho has become a lot more effective in front of goal also, leading many to believe that the team is starting to show some metal where it was lacking before.
Olympiakos is riding high in the Greek Superleague with 5 wins from 5. Their team sports the North’s Roy Carroll, formerly of Man Utd fame, as their keeper as well as Argentine Ariel Ibagaza who has plenty of experience in La Liga.
While Olympiakos have been doing well at home, I think a trip to London will be a stretch for them and that the team and their wives would be better off making a trip to floor three of Harrods which, if memory serves me right (my house mate used to work there of course) is women’s casual.
My Prediction: Arsenal 3-0 Olympiakos
The might Madrid are off to Amsterdam this evening to face 4 times champions Ajax. Real seem to have turned something of a corner since defeating Man City and have been quite good in La Liga of late,, hockeying Deportivo La Coruna at the weekend, with Cristiano Ronaldo having got what was described by Sid Lowe on the Guardian’s podcast as the ‘ugliest hat-trick’ in living memory, but a hat-trick nonetheless.
Ajax have had some trouble in the board room between Johan Cruyff and Guss Hiddink. Further, the club in the summer has sold Jan Vertonghen to Spurs and is at present, stuttering somewhat in the Netherlands.
My Prediction: Ajax 0-2 Real Madrid
The noveau riche of France, Paris St Germain are off to Portugal this evening to meet FC Porto in what should be an interesting tie, not just because of the fire power both teams shall have on display.
PSG have Zlatan, Menezes Eziquiel Lavezzi and Javier Pastore to name but a few (all previously plying their trade in Italy it should be noted) with Thiago Silva acting like a brick wall in defense.
Porto have sold Hulk to Zenit for a wad of cash and managed to hold on to Joao Moutinho and are still top of the table in Portugal. This game will be quite difficult with neither team wanting to give away too much as they both realistically have a chance of qualification, so I imagine it will be pretty cagey and with little difference between either.
My Prediction: FC Porto 1-2 Paris St Germain
Finally, the early kick off which has already gotten underway is the Zenit St Petersburg v AC Milan.
I will freely admit that I have always had something of a soft spot for the rossinerri, however, they have had a terrible start to the season so far in all competitions. Zlatan and Thiago Silva have left to PSG, Antonio Cassano is off to cross town rivals Inter and a large raft of experienced and quality players have recently retired. In has come Pazzini from Inter and Ricardo Montolivo from Fiorentina but no marquee signings of the caliber that has left. The team still has a lot of quality such as Alex Pato, Robinho, Kevin Prince Boateng and Antonio Nocerino, however, it is a very young team and there are no obvious leaders among them, so it may take some time for Allegri to fashion something to replace the previous squad.
Zenit are facing problems of there own at the moment despite going on a massive spending spree. Having won the Russian league for the past two seasons running, Luciano Spalletti has now to integrate both Hulk (ex Porto) and Axel Witsel (ex Benfica) for a combined total of €83 million. Further, their wages are believed to be treble the wages of the other players in the squad, a squad that has done well in all competitions and has traditionally had a large local contingent. There results since have dropped off a cliff and they are stuttering in an increasingly competitive Russian domestic league.
My Prediction: Zenit 1-1 AC Milan