Match-day three has two European heavyweights lock horns in a match worthy of the latter stages of the competition. While a few teams will feel that a win tonight will make their passage through to the last 16 that much more easy.
Clash of the Titans
It’s the tie we’ve been waiting that has our mouths watering. Madrid vs Juventus has tossed up a few tasty treats over the years. Who can forget the semi-final 3-1 victory for Juventus in Turin? Pavel Nedved of course was the star man on that day. There’s a lot in common between these two titans of European Football. On Madrid’s bench you have Carlo Ancelotti, who had a stint at the helm of Juventus and then there’s Zinedine Zidane; France’s most popular product who had fantastic seasons with both the clubs and was part of the then, record transfer of €75m.
While Juventus might have the better of Madrid in recent meetings, the general feeling is that they head into this game as the underdogs. Reason for that is their poor run in Europe thus far with just two draws to show for against Galatasaray and minnows, Copenhagen. As for Madrid, they’ve been flawless, having put 10 past both their opponents and are well on course to booking a spot in the next round.
Confidence may not be at a premium for the Bianconeri as well as they’re recent remarkable loss to Fiorentina will definitely have a mental bearing on them. On the other hand, Madrid saw off Malaga at the weekend and will be brimming with confidence. A win against Juventus will all but guarantee themselves a spot in the last 16.
The Red Devils Welcome Real Sociedad
Man United maybe stumbling in the Premier League but they’ve started off their Champions League campaign in decent fashion. Top of their table, albeit level with Shakhtar, they now host Real Sociedad. The Spanish outfit have yet to record a point and some have pointed out that they have under-achieved. It doesn’t get easier though as United are an imposing side in their own den. Moyes will view this game as an important one as Shakhtar and Leverkusen go head to head in the other group encounter. A win here for the Red Devils will calm the tension at Old Trafford.
You can expect a Sociedad outfit that will take the game to United. They are in desperate need of a positive result, failing to attain which they might as well kiss their hopes of progressing through to the next round goodbye. Sociedad are coming off a morale boosting win over Valencia at the Mestalla. United had Southampton at the weekend and only a late equalizer from Dejan Lovren prevented them from coming away with three points. The manner in which the goal was conceded certainly won’t go down with under-fire manager David Moyes
PSG’s Hunt For Belgian Delight
Nouveau-riche PSG have put in the displays that money can sometimes buy. A perfect start to their Champions League with mighty impressive wins against Benfica and Olympiakos have warranted the ‘dark-horses’ tag thrown on them. Laurent Blanc has captured the imaginations of fans with easy on the eye football to go with the results. And, of course, Zlatan Ibrahimovic was been outstanding yet again. With a virtually full strength side to pick from, PSG might see this as the perfect opportunity to put one foot into the next round.
So where does that leave Anderlecht? The Belgians have been the designated punching bags of their group with no points to show for their efforts. With just one win out of the past three games, Anderlecht have been struggling in the Belgian Jupiler League. They have the chance to get their European season up and running and possibly spring an upset. In 16 year old Youri Tielemans, Anderlecht have an exciting young talent that has raised a few eyebrows this season and certainly a player that Blanc will have an eye on.
Galatasaray Look To Capitalize
They may be last placed in the group but Galtasaray are serious contenders to qualify. Roberto Mancini’s side were excellent against Juventus on match-day two with a draw in Turin showing positive signs. With Madrid-Juventus double header, Mancini will view this as the perfect time to make up ground and possibly overtake one of them.
Copenhagen put up a stubborn showing against Juventus on match-day one and while they might not be favorites to emerge from the group, they certainly will want to make an impression. The idea for them will be to get into the Europa League. A trip to the intimidating Turk Telecom Arena is on the horizon and the aim will be to not lose. It won’t be smooth sailing for the Danes against Galatasaray but they will feel that a draw here will be a excellent result to take home with them.
Bayern and City Hope To Run Away
If there was ever any doubt that Bayern would be complacent this season, it was firmly extinguished with the Champions’ performance against Man City. Pep Guardiola has his side playing scintillating, irresistible football that makes you wonder if they really are stronger than last season. After beating City in their own backyard, they host Czech representatives Viktoria Plzen. Problems for Bayern come in the form of absentees of both their central defenders – Dante and Boateng. The versatile Philipp Lahm is expected to step into the back four.
Man City make the daunting trip to Russia to face CSKA Moscow. They’ll have to do so without captain Vincent Kompany. There’s already controversy before even a ball has been kicked as City are fuming over the fact that they were not able to train on CSKA’s awkward pitch. While CSKA did train, City were denied that possibility after there were fears that a bad pitch would go on to become worse. The extremely cold weather conditions in Russia could also play a part in the outcome of this game