Real Madrid host Dortmund this week in what should prove to be a cracker of a game for fans across the world. In the other group D game, Manchester City will be hoping to register their first win in Europe this season against Ajax. Group C sees Milan make the trip to overachieving Málaga in the battle to top the group. TheHardTackle brings to you the preview of Group C and Group D ahead of third matchday in Europe’s elite club competition.

Group C

Málaga vs. Milan

La Rosaleda, Malaga

Real Madrid

Time to worry, Max

Málaga have been in sensational form this season, currently sitting in third position in the La Liga and at the summit of Group C in the Champions League. The Spanish side has made quick work of their opponents in the Champions League but the test against Milan will be a very different one. Unlike their opponents, Milan have gotten off to a woeful start to their season. They are languishing in 15th position in the Serie A, were most uninspiring against Anderlecht in their Champions League opener and extremely in the game against Zenit.

The hosts come into this game on the back of a narrow 2-1 win over Real Valladolid and will know that they have to raise their game by a notch against the second most successful side in the competition. Thankfully for them, Milan travel to Andalusia after having suffered a 3-2 loss to Lazio on Saturday. Max Allegri’s side has been pathetic this season and their performance against Lazio only reiterates this fact. All Allegri’s side has over Málaga is probably their past experience in the Champions League.

Milan have struggled against Spanish opposition in the Champions League, but one must consider that they have always ended up meeting either Barcelona or Real Madrid. Allegri will have his work cut out against this impressive Málaga side. This should prove to be an incredibly difficult away fixture for the Italian giants.

Prediction: Málaga 3-1 Milan

Zenit vs. Anderlecht

Petrovsky Stadium, St.Petersburg

This is an extremely important game for both sides given that they are yet to register a win in the Champions League. Zenit should probably have got at least a point against Milan and could count themselves unfortunate in their previous game. Anderlecht are on one point, just above Zenit in this group and this game could help one of these teams crawl back into the race for a spot in the knockout stage.

Anderlecht put in a solid performance against Waasland-Beveren on Saturday and come into this tough fixture in Russia with a good amount of confidence. The most worrying factor for John van den Brom will be his side’s inability to score freely. The Belgian side is yet to score in the Champions League and have a decent total of twenty goals in their domestic league. Zenit aren’t having as successful a season as their opponents as they are already eight points of the leaders in the Russian Premier League. Their drab 1-0 victory over Kuban Krasnodar will have done nothing to improve their mindset ahead of this fixture.

A trip to Russia is never an easy task and Anderlecht will have to bring their A-game to St.Petersburg if they are to walk away with even a single point. Zenit are yet to open their account in the Champions League and fans will be looking to Hulk to break their duck.

Prediction: Zenit 2-0 Anderlecht

Group D

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid

Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund

The Group of Death, and this is possibly the biggest game in this dreaded group. Both sides have showcased their immense quality in their first two Champions League games. Dortmund were most unlucky not to have picked up the three points against Manchester City and currently sit in second place with four points. Real Madrid demolished Ajax last time around, with Cristiano Ronaldo at his goalscoring best.

Dortmund come into this tie after a poor showing in the Revierderby on Saturday. To appease the demanding Yellow Wall, Dortmund will have to play at a utopian level against Madrid and make up for the hurtful loss against Schalke. Real Madrid put aside Celta Vigo with consummate ease thanks to goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuain. They will travel to Dortmund as the more confident team and should be considered favourites in this fixture.

Jürgen Klopp will be hoping that his star player, Mario Götze, is fully fit to face Los Merengues. The absence of Götze could prove to be fatal to Dortmund’s hopes of pulling of an upset. Jose Mourinho will surely be confident of a victory against this roller coaster Dortmund side given the players at his disposal.

Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 1-3 Real Madrid

Ajax vs. Manchester City

Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam

Real Madrid

Was the Dortmund penalty enough for Super Mario to earn a starting spot against Ajax?

Ajax must consider themselves the most unlucky team in Europe. Having been drawn into this group, their hopes of qualification have almost surely disappeared and they will go into this game with barely any expectations. Manchester City will be desperate to catch up with Dortmund and Real Madrid, knowing that dropped points against Ajax could seal their fate.

Ajax were involved in a thrilling 3-3 draw against Heracles over the weekend, leaving Frank de Boer a very worried manager ahead of their game against Manchester City. The visitors put in a lackluster performance on Saturday against West Brom, requiring a stoppage time winner from Edin Dzeko to seal the victory. Ajax have struggled to defend this season, conceding ten goals in nine league games and five in two Champions League games so far. Roberto Mancini’s side have had a contrasting problem as they are struggling to hit the net with the ease they displayed last season.

This will be a cagey affair given that Ajax will be desperate to get a point and Manchester City know that their Champions League campaign will suffer a massive blow if they drop any points. Both sides have to keep things tight at the back if they are to leave the Amsterdam ArenA with any points.

Prediction: Ajax 1-1 Manchester City