The Champions League is back after two short months. Football never stops and you can look at the fixture congestion in the calendar to prove that. The first matchday kicks off on Tuesday night and we’re already getting in the swing of things with some big matches featuring Europe’s finest.
Champions League Preview
Chelsea v Sevilla
This matchup will one of the most interesting ones of the week. Chelsea have been a shambles at the back and electric when going forward. On the other hand, Julen Lopetegui has built a disciplined, functional side with the reigning Europa League champions.
Both sides go into this match with disappointing results from the weekend. Chelsea gave up a lead to end up drawing 3-3 with Southampton. Sevilla took their first loss of the season with a 1-0 defeat to Granada. Chelsea could be without new goalkeeping acquisition Edouard Mendy. Time will tell if Frank Lampard opts for out of form goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga or veteran Willy Caballero. Chelsea’s attack will give Sevilla’s back-line problems but the blues are way too fragile to hold a lead at any point in a game at the current moment.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-3 Sevilla
Rennes v Krasnodar
Rennes will be playing in their first-ever Champions League match on Tuesday night. They go into this game undefeated in Ligue 1 and sit in third place. However, Krasnodar have also qualified for their first-ever Champions League campaign, making this a battle of the newcomers.
Not many eyeballs will be on this match, but both teams will want to impress in their first match in Europe’s premier competition. Rennes’ 17-year-old prodigy Eduardo Camavinga will be one to look out for.
Prediction: Rennes 2-0 Krasnodar
Lazio v Borussia Dortmund
Lazio have been absent from the Champions League since the 2007/08 season, but after a great Serie A campaign and a fourth-place finish last season, they’re back. Unfortunately for them, the results have not gone their way, dating back to the last stretch of last season. In four Serie A matches this season, Lazio have won one, lost two, and drawn one game. They have conceded eight goals in the process, with an embarrassing 3-0 loss to Sampdoria last weekend being the most worrying result.
Dortmund, on the other hand, have looked great. They’ve kept three clean sheets in four games and won all but one game, a minor blip against Augsburg.
Prediction: Lazio 1-4 Borussia Dortmund
Zenit St.Petersburg v Club Brugge
This Champions League group is arguably the weakest in the competition. One can even say it’s a Europa League group in disguise. That being said, it will give an opportunity for Zenit, Brugge, or Lazio to go to the next round and tussle with Europe’s finest.
The neutral won’t care much for this game but Zenit and Brugge will have a feisty affair with a vital three points up for grabs. Senegalese Brugge forward, Krepit Diatta will be one to watch out for.
Prediction: Zenit St. Petersburg 1-1 Club Brugge
Barcelona v Ferencvaros
Barcelona are likely to rest many of their key players in what will be their easier game during the group stage. El Clasico is on the horizon, so Ronald Koeman would be foolish to play a full-strength side against Ferencvaros. Expect the likes of Trincao, Ronald Araujo, and Pedri to get extended minutes in this game.
That being said, if Barcelona were to struggle, Koeman will have to bring big names from the bench. Dropping points in this game would be a disaster for a team that must aim for first place in the group.
Prediction: Barcelona 2-0 Ferenevar0s
Dynamo Kyiv v Juventus
An away day in Ukraine is a struggle for any side, and for an out of form Juventus, it will be no different. Juve have been unimpressive so far this season under rookie manager Andrea Pirlo. Paulo Dybala has yet to play this season but will likely make his season debut on Tuesday night. The Bianconeri will still be without Ronaldo and while their quality still shines bright, they are yet to stablish a clear identity.
Kyiv aren’t the strongest of opponents but an away fixture in cold Ukraine with a manager that is still trying to figure it out could combine for a bad formula.
Prediction: Dynamo Kyiv 0-0 Juventus
Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester United
Paris Saint-Germain will be looking to exact revenge on Manchester United for the shock upset from two seasons ago in the round of 16. Marco Verratti has been ruled out of the match which will be a big miss for Les Parisians. PSG’s all-time top scorer, Edinson Cavani, will also not make the trip to Paris to play against his former club.
Furthermore, Harry Maguire is set to miss the match, as will Eric Bailly in central defence. United have been unimpressive this season and will be lucky to get anything out of this game. Kylian Mbappe and Angel Di Maria are likely to run riot on the Red Devils. United’s attack needs to be at their absolute best if they want to extract any result from this game.
Prediction: PSG 3-1 Manchester United
Istanbul Basakeshir v RB Leipzig
Despite losing talisman Timo Werner, Leipzig have been outstanding this season. Julian Nagelsmann’s men sit in first place in the Bundesliga. Basakeshir are unlucky to be drawn in arguably the toughest group of the whole tournament but the low expectations will allow them to play with less pressure than any of the other teams.
That being said, they have started their Turkish Super League title defense horribly this season with three losses in the first three games. Leipzig will likely dispatch Basakeshir without too much of a problem.
Prediction: Istanbul Basakeshir 0-3 RB Leipzig
Embed from Getty Images