The Champions League action brings football fans a lot during the week to get excited for. Here is what should be looked forward to this Wednesday night.
1. A tricky Swiss affair
Liverpool take on Swiss side Basle in their second Champions League encounter on Wednesday. Basel have been a tricky side for English opponents in the last three or so seasons, having defeated both Manchester United and Chelsea. Liverpool’s failure to really kick on this footballing season also puts them on a somewhat equal position as their opponents. Brendan Rodgers’ side were denied a win last weekend by local rivals Everton in a dramatic later fashion and are currently in the fourteenth place in the league. They have lost two extremely winnable games at the hands of Aston Villa and West Ham.
After a successful previous season, pressure is mounting on Brendan Rodgers whose side needs to finish in the top 4 to get some sort of stability this season. Doing well in this game would give the Reds a much needed confidence booster before they take on West Brom this Sunday- a game that is again, extremely winnable, but judging by Liverpool’s previous performances, they can really struggle against WBA. The likes of Adam Lallana and Mario Balotelli need to have a solid, imposing game and players like Lazar Markovic and Suso need to capitalize on any chances they get. Coutinho looked lively after being brought on against Everton and the Brazilian would have to show his pre-season flair in Switzerland now. The Liverpool defence needs to ensure they don’t make any defensive lapses. Bar the last minute goal, the Reds defenders looked good and organized against their local rivals.
For Basel, they would have to try and exploit Liverpool’s under-confidence, going into the game. They have every chance of scoring against the English side and would hope that they can catch Liverpool on the break and some poor defending at the hands of Lovren and Skrtel can get them the key three points at home.
2. Wenger Needs To Triumph Despite The Never-Ending Injury Issues
Arsenal have a host of injuries to worry about and Wenger would understandably be worried going into this game. The Gunners take on Turkish side Galatasaray who are not minnows and can easily give Wenger’s boys a sucker punch. Arsenal currently have Aaron Ramsey, Mikel Arteta, Mathieu Debuchy, Nacho Monreal, Abou Diaby, Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott out on the sidelines with injury. Wenger has at least got the boost of Jack Wilshere will be in contention for the match, though it is highly unlikely that the Englishman would start the game.
The English side is chasing its first points in the competition and was sub-par in their opening game against Dortmund. Wenger knows that his team would need nothing less than three points to feel comfortable to progress to the knockout stages. New signing Danny Welbeck needs to wear his scoring shoes and ensure the English side returns hope with a win.
The tricky thing for the London side is that they face a crucial test as they face undefeated Chelsea this weekend and with the injury list growing, Wenger would want his best players fresh for the league game as well. The likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez, anti Cazorla, and Alex Oxlade Chamberlain will have to be at their creative best to help the Gunners get some much needed momentum in their stride.
3. Mouth Watering Clash In Spain
Atletico Madrid host Juventus in an eye-catching match on Wednesday. Last season’s league winners in their respective countries will both enter the game in confidence- Juventus are on top of the league with six out of six wins. Atletico are third in the league with four wins and two draws. They are however, under more pressure to win the game having lost to Olympiakos in their opener.
The game would involve an interesting midfield battle as Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Claudio Marchisio (Juventus) take on Gabi, Tiago and Koke. On paper, the Italian midfield looks much more solid that their Spanish counterparts, but if last season has taught us anything, the Atletico unit clicks so well at times, that they are almost unstoppable. Andrea Pirlo will miss the game through injury but Allegri will be happy that Vidal is back amongst the thick of things.
Carlos Tevez is enjoying spectacular form and has six goals and an assist in five games so far. Mario Mandzukic will play with a protective mask for this game, like he did on Saturday. It would be interesting to see who partners the Croat upfront- either one of Raul Garcia, Jiminez or Antoine Griezmann remains an option.
This is the most evenly matched game on Wednesday night, and how these two clubs play would give a hint on how successful they are in this European campaign.
4. Can Anderlecht pick up a point against injury ravaged Dortmund?
Borussia Dortmund, like fellow group members Arsenal, have a host of injury issues as key players in the form of Mkhitaryan, Reus, Sahin, Gündogan and Blaszczykowski are all out on the sidelines with Sebastian Kehl also a doubt. The big boost for Klopp was that Mats Hummels returned after his injury last weekend. However, Klopp will have to make a judgement call and see if he wants to risk his captain by over-playing him so soon. Sokratis therefore is likely to partner Subotic in the defense.
Dortmund are currently struggling in the league, having picked up only seven points in six matches. They come into this match after a 2-1 loss against rivals Schalke 04. They were excellent against Arsenal in their Champions League opener and the likes of Aubameyang and Immobile would have to have top games here as well.
Anderlecht picked up a decent point away at Galatasaray in their opening match and another one against the struggling opposition is not an outrageous thing to suggest. Pressure is certainly on Klopp to ensure that his side get the three points against their Belgian rivals. Ahead of Saturday’s tough clash with Hamburg, Dortmund need this win.
5. Bayer and Benfica both desperately need wins- who will triumph?
Roger Schmidt has enjoyed a decent spell this season as Bayer sit third in the Bundesliga and have turned up on most occasions. They lost to AS Monaco narrowly in their Champions League opener as they suffered a 1-0 defeat. Meanwhile, Jorge Jesus saw an exodus at the Portuguese club this summer and is still seeing his side do well. Last season’s Portuguese Liga winners are currently on top of the league with five wins out of a possible six. But the Portuguese side was also dealt an early blow in their bid to reach the last 16 with a 2-0 loss at home to Zenit St Petersburg.
Benfica will need inspiration from the likes of Pérez and Gaitán. Bender, Son and Calhanoglu would have to do the same for the German side.Therefore in a pretty evenly matched out tie, both the sides are in need of a win if they want to avoid falling too far behind. A loss for either of the sides can put them in a place where recovery might not be possible.