This week’s Champions League games could see several big names all but knocked out of the tournament, and leave several big name managers looking for new jobs.
Fresh from stunning holders Barcelona at the Nou Camp, Rubin Kazan have the chance to repeat the feat at the Centralniy Stadium, with a place in the knockout phase now a realistic ambition for the Russian champions. On their competition debut, Rubin surprisingly share top spot in Group F with Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev, who host an Inter Milan side that has not won in the UEFA Champions League for over a year following their 2-2 draw with the Ukrainian champions last time out. Anything less than a win in Russian soil will end Jose Mounrinho’s European dreams, as Inter might well not even qualify for the Europa league.
In contrast, Inter’s cross-city rivals AC Milan are finding their form following a terrific 3-2 win against Real Madrid. Pato was the Rossoneri hero at the Santiago Bernabeu with a pair of goals and he will again hope to outshine his compatriot Kaka on the latter’s return to San Siro. Both sides are level at the top of Group C with six points, with Olympique de Marseille and FC Zürich, who meet at the Stade Vélodrome, three points adrift. Olympique Lyonnais, Chelsea FC, Manchester United FC and Sevilla FC all still boast perfect records and will advance should they win again. Lyon recorded one of their greatest European results by beating Liverpool at Anfield and another point against the five-time European Champion Clubs’ Cup winners would leave Rafael Benítez’s side right up against it in Group E.
Only Madrid have scored more than high-flying Sevilla, who welcome Stuttgart to the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium in Group G following an impressive 3-1 away win over the Bundesliga side. Chelsea are the only team yet to concede a goal and their 4-0 triumph over Atlético Madrid proved the final straw for Abel Resino. He was dismissed after that match, leaving new coach Quique Sánchez Flores to pick up the pieces in Group D. Resino was not the only coaching casualty following Matchday 3 either. Juande Ramos’s short stint at CSKA Moscow has come to an end since their 1-0 defeat by United and his replacement Leonid Slutski faces a UEFA Champions League baptism of fire at Old Trafford. CSKA are third in Group B, a point behind Wolfsburg, who travel to Beşiktaş.
Elsewhere, Arsenal and Olympiacos could both seal their progress in Group H with wins against against Alkmaar and Standard Liege respectively, while in Group A FC Bayern Munich will be looking to avenge their Matchday 3 defeat at Bordeaux knowing another defeat could prove costly. Laurent Blanc’s side top the section on seven points, two ahead of Juventus who are away to Maccabi Haifa.