European football is back in the blue half of Manchester after decades. The ‘noisy neighbours’ of the very successful red half of Manchester will be looking to make a statement of intent. They have started their domestic campaign on the high and sit in second place behind their fiercest rivals, only on goal difference. I expect them to defeat Napoli especially since this game will be played at the Etihad Stadium.
PREDICTION: A Manchester City win.
The Yellow Submarines host Bayern Munich who have such a strong pedigree in European games. Villarreal managed to hang out to Guisseppe Rossi but lost Carzola to big spending Malaga. The Spaniard was the hub of all the creative play of the side and they will be missing that badly. Bayern Munich on the other hand have started this season on fire and have been scoring for fun in the Bundesliga. If Villarreal do not step up their game, I see the Germans running away with a victory.
PREDICTION: A draw.
Inter Milan haven’t started the this season on a bright note; they were shocked over the weekend in the Serie A. However, I expect them to at least pick up a win over Trabzonspor, who replaced Fenerbahce in this season’s Champions League.
PREDICTION: An Internazionale win.
Lille is back among Europe’s finest, and straightaway, they face a tricky tie against CSKA Moscow. After winning the French league, the only major departure was Gervinho, who joined Arsenal. They have retained the services of Belgian superkid, Eden Hazard and have also added Joe Cole, who joined on loan. Irrespective of these, I am not sure they are quite a strong side.
PREDICTION: A draw.
Benfica welcome the English champions who are in sparkling form to the Estadio da Luz tonight. The big question is if United will be able to continue their amazing goal scoring streak in Portugal. Benfica is a decent side and will give United a run for their money, but I think Rooney and co will be difficult to stop in this game.
PREDICTION: A Manchester United win.
The reason why Otelul Galati is playing at this stage of the Champions League is because of Michel Platini’s adjustments in the format of the competition. This allows clubs from any corner of Europe to stand a chance of rubbing shoulders with the cream of the crop. FC Basel are not exactly seasoned campaigners but have more experience than the Romanian side and should make that count.
PREDICTION: Except they don’t get things right, FC Basel should win this.
This will be a game of two former powerhouses. Gone are the years when Ajax reigned supreme in both the Dutch league and in Europe. They didn’t even make it to the group stages last season. Lyon held sway in France for over five years but have relinquished their invincibility in recent years. This doesn’t mean that the game between these sides will not be worth the watch; it’s going to be an interesting one.
PREDICTION: I think Lyon will win this one.
Jose Mourinho makes another attempt to win the Champions League for the third time this season. He came quite close last season, but was stopped in his tracks by perennial rivals, Barcelona. The Special One has shaken up his squad and expects his current team to surpass last season’s achievements. I don’t know how feasible that will be for the Portuguese, but a win away in Croatia is absolutely possible.
PREDICTION: Real Madrid will pick up the three points from this game.