Anderlecht v/s Olympiakos
Constant Vanden Stock Stadium, Anderlecht
Dennis Praet says that finishing in first place above PSG is impossible, but the Belgian champions need to take all three points away from this game in order to keep their hopes of getting past the group stage alive. Anderlecht have made it to the Champions League fairly regularly in recent years, and John van den Brom’s squad will hope to build on their win in the league over the weekend. Home territory looks to be the best place to gain points for the Belgian side. Except for attacking midfielder Ronald Vargas, there are no major injury worries.
Greek champions Olympiakos come into this fixture in a rich vein of form. They sit top of the league at this point in time, but lost 4-1 at home to PSG on the opening day of the tournament. Former Real Madrid midfielder Michel manages the side, and will be banking on Javier Saviola to continue producing the goods just as he did during Saturday’s 2-0 win at Panionios. Anderlecht have been shaky in defence, while both teams are capable in attack. Expect goals in this game.
Prediction: Anderlecht 1-1 Olympiakos
Players to watch out for: Matías Suárez (Anderlecht), Javier Saviola (Olympiakos)
Paris Saint-Germain v/s Benfica
Parc des Princes, Paris
Paris Saint-Germain’s labored play over the start of the season thus far makes it hard for onlookers to believe that so much money has been spent on this squad. The players did, however, combine with devastating effect at Olympiakos, and will look to bring that vibe with them as they take on Benfica on Wednesday. They lie in second place in Ligue 1 behind newly promoted Monaco at this point in time, but have experienced teething issues of late – most notable regarding the tactical dilemma offered by the difficulty in playing Edinson Cavani and Zlatan Ibrahimovic together. Moreover, captain Thiago Silva has been sidelined for six weeks, as is Alex. Thanks to Mamadou Sakho’s sale to Liverpool, the French moneybags will be heavily reliant on the inexperienced Marquinhos to hold fort at the back.
Benfica may have a man named Jesus at the touchline, but the name and his flowing mane are where the similarities end. The manager awaits investigations for ‘interfering with the police’ after their win at Guimaraes, and will watch from the dugout as his side aims to solidify their claims for qualification to the next round. Benfica have made a mixed start to the season, as they continue in their quest to get rid of the Guttmann’s curse. Injuries in defence at PSG represent an opportunity to make inroads, as any points taken in Paris could prove vital on Matchday 6.
Prediction: Paris Saint-Germain 1-1 Benfica
Players to watch out for: Marquinhos (Paris-Saint Germain), Oscar Cardozo (Benfica)