The elite of German football return to European duty this week as this year’s Champions League group stage reaches its exciting climax. Bayern, Wolfsburg, Mönchengladbach and Leverkusen all take their place on the elite stage and four enticing match-ups await on Tuesday and Wednesday. The action is previewed here for you……
Tuesday 8th December
VfL Wolfsburg v Manchester United
The final matchday in Group B sees Wolfsburg currently sitting pretty atop the table, but in the cut-throat business of Champions League football it is still quite conceivable that they could finish Tuesday out of the competition. A point would be enough to see them through to the knock-out stage (for the first time), but defeat and a win for PSV Eindhoven would see them drop into the Europa League.
Despite taking the lead at Old Trafford back on matchday 2, Dieter Hecking’s Wolves went down to a narrow 2-1 defeat. They will have to bounce back from their weekend disappointment when having looked to have rescued a point against Dortmund with an injury time equaliser, they succumbed to a 2-1 loss. United’s Premier league match at the weekend saw them held goalless by West Ham.
Manchester City v Borussia Mönchengladbach
The other Manchester side host a Borussia Mönchengladbach side full of confidence following their weekend victory over Bayern Munich and although they cannot qualify for the knock-out stage, the Foals still have third place to play for and continuing participation in the Europa League.
The Blues however are still battling for top spot in the group so they too will have it all to play for on Tuesday as they seek to pip Juventus to the leadership of Group D. They had a poor display on Saturday (a defeat to Stoke City) to get out of their system, so Gladbach will face a side doubly motivated. The reverse fixture ended with a 90th minute Sergio Aguero penalty seeing the Citizens to a 2-1 win at the Borussia-Park.
Wednesday 9th December
Bayer Leverkusen v Barcelona
The Werkself can still mathematically qualify for the knock-out stage of this year’s Champions League, but the bad news is that are going to have to beat reigning champions Barcelona if they are to do so. Even victory over the Spanish giants may not be enough if rivals Roma take all three points against BATE Borisov.
It is a mammoth task for Roger Schmidt’s side, but they can take some heart from their performance in the Nou Camp back in September when they came within ten minutes of pulling off a shock win. Two late goals from Sergi Roberto and Luis Suarez proved the heartbreaker.
Luis Enrique’s side are on a six-match winning streak against Leverkusen and it will take something very special for the Bundesliga side to cause an upset on Wednesday.
Dinamo Zagreb v Bayern Munich
Already qualified and already assured of top spot in the group, Bayern Munich will nonetheless want to put the shock of their weekend loss to Mönchengladbach behind them. Their unbeaten league run is over, but the Bavarians will want to go into the winter break with no further setbacks.
A Robert Lewandowski hat-trick put them on the way to a 5-0 win at the Allianz Arena back in September, but the midweek trip to the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb is sure to provide an electric atmosphere and test of their mettle. Victory over Arsenal in their group opener showed great promise, but four successive defeats have seen the Croatian side slide well out of contention.
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