We get back to Champions League football this weekend, and even at matchday three, some teams are facing massive must-win games.
Tuesday 23 October Matches
Nordsjaelland v Juventus
Shakhtar Donetsk v Chelsea
Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo remains unbeaten in eight Champions League games (five wins and three draws), though the defending champions will face a big test in Donetsk. Shakhtar, who are tied with Chelsea on four points, impressed in holding Juventus to a 1-1 draw in Turin in their last game, and have won three and drawn one of their four home matches against English clubs. Riding high in Serie A, the Italians have drawn their last eight matches in European competition, a run they should end against Norwegian side Nordsjaelland.
BATE Borisov v Valencia
Lille v Bayern Munich
BATE Borisov have made the best possible start to the group, winning both their games, one of them a surprising 3-1 defeat of Bayern Munich. Opponents Valencia laboured to their third league win of the season on Saturday, a 3-2 defeat of Athletic Bilbao, and are hoping to mark their 50th Champions League match with another victory. Their record so far reads: 15 wins, 18 draws and 16 defeats. After their slip-up in Minsk, Bayern know that they have to beat Lille, who have struggled defensively in the Champions League this season, conceding five goals in their two games to date.
Spartak Moscow v Benfica
Barcelona v Celtic
Barcelona are in the middle of a defensive crisis, without their four first-choice defenders out because of injury. So Barça have focused on outscoring teams this season, as they did over the weekend against Deportivo La Coruna. A shootout is not something that Celtic get involved in. Barcelona will win the group and neither Spartak nor Benfica can afford to lose if they hope to finish in second place.
Galatasaray v Cluj
Manchester United v Sporting Braga
Three points clear at the top, Man United intend to celebrate their 150th home European match (104 wins, 35 draws and ten defeats) in style. In Istanbul, meanwhile, Galatasaray should climbing off the bottom of the group at the expense of second-placed Cluj.
Wednesday 24 October
Porto v Dynamo Kiev
Dynamo Zagreb v Paris Saint-Germain
Beaten in Porto on Matchday 2, PSG has a chance to get back to winning ways away to a Dynamo side that has lost its last eight Champions League matches. Porto have won both their games to date and a win will all but assure there place in the knockout stages.
Arsenal v Schalke 04
Montpellier v Olympiakos
Despite struggling in the Premier League this season an Arsenal win over Schalke 04 would all but see them through to the last 16. In the battle of the bottom two Montpellier and Olympiakos have little option but to go for the win.
Zenit St Petersburg v Anderlecht
Malaga v AC Milan
Malaga have been very impressive in their first two games cruising to 3-0 wins at home to Zenit and away to Anderlecht. Meanwhile, Milan have been struggling all seasin and the Milan directors to order a week-long training camp for their underperforming team.
Still I expect Milan to progress to the knockout stages as Zenit have lost their last three games in the Champions League while Anderlecht have not won a Champions League match since defeating Spain’s Real Betis 1-0 in December 2005.
Ajax v Manchester City
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
While the group of death still has everything to play for, Manchester City are under the most pressure to win in Holland as they trail Madrid by 5 points and Dortmund by 3 points. City have to win and hope that Real Madrid and Dortmund split their matches, if they are to have any hope of progressing to the knockout stages.