With the second match in the group stage of this year’s Champions League scheduled for today and tomorrow, lets look at some key clashes.
There are a few stand-out matches in this round, with Manchester United vs Wolfsburg being the top pick. The English champions taking on the German champions, it probably should not get better than this. Man Utd have slowly and steadily climbed to the top of the Premier League and have not lost at home in the last 21 Champions League matches. Now that will take some beating and Wolfsburg lead by the Brazilian Grafite who has come for some praise on Tim Vickery’s blog, will try to do just that. A draw would also be creditable in a group in which they are favoured to be runner-up to Utd. This match will also be the 50th UEFA club match to be played by Rooney.
Prediction: 1-0 to United
Bayern Munich host Juventus in another juicy encounter which should provide some entertainment for the neutral fans. As far as their domestic form is concerned, Bayern lie 7th in the Bundesliga and Juventus are currently second below Sampdoria(Inter is 3rd in Serie A). Ribery has not exactly set the field on fire this season,ever since he has been linked to Real. The attacking threat that Bayern possess is quite enviable – top class strikers in Klose, Toni and Gomez, skillful wingers in Ribery and Robben. Defensively, the sale of Lucio to Inter has affected the team with Buyten still to find a reliable partner. But they still have not fired on all cylinders in the last couple of seasons. Juve will try to exploit these defensive frailities by giving a free rein to one of the most under-rated Brazilian midfielders, Diego who was bought from Bremen last year. With Trezeguet and Iaquinta in attack, they look lighter compared to Bayern’s but defensively the Italians will be more organised.
Prediction: 1-0 to Bayern Munich
Fiorentina vs Liverpool can provide a surprise if the attack-minded Italian team stick to their style and not get over-rawed by Gerrard or Torres. Fiorentina who currently lie 4th in the tough Serie A will miss their star-striker Gilardino but somehow will try to match it up with effort on the middle of the park with their creative Gerrard equivalent, Riccardo Montolivo. You can see Mutu after a long time leading the strike for Fiorentina. Liverpool miss Mascherano and might also not field Benayoun for this tie.
Prediction: 1-0 to Fiorentina
I like to see Rafa beaten in Europe and hence the prediction:)
In the other matches, hopefully Arsenal will seal the match with more than one goal to spare, Real might just thrash Marseille at home, Sevilla and Rangers might be a high scoring game with a lot of entertainement and Porto vs Athletico could also be a thriller.