After two wins and two losses for the four German contenders in the first week of this year’s top European competition, it’s a case of returning to some midweek form, as well as continuing it for the German sides.
Borussia Dortmund vs Olympique Marseille
The Champions League is back at the Signal Iduna Park for the first time since ‘that’ night in April against Real Madrid. After last week’s difficult trip to Naples, it will be a welcome return home for the Dortmund players against Marseille, but it’s no certainty that BVB will get back to winning ways on Tuesday night.
Dortmund are without five of their most important players from last season’s European campaign for Tuesday. With Ilkay Gündoğan, Sebastian Kehl, Marcel Schmelzer and Łukasz Piszczek all out injured as well as Roman Weidenfeller, who misses out after his sending off against Napoli, it may be harder than first anticipated for BVB. The likes of Robert Lewandowski, Marco Reus and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang are all expected to start after the convincing 5-0 win over Freiburg on Saturday. Sven Bender is also expected to make his return from injury on Tuesday.
Marseille have no fresh injury worries and are expected to have a full squad to choose from. Their player to watch is Mathieu Valbuena, the man who has created the most chances in Europe’s top five divisions this season and who was a bright spark for Marseille during their 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal. BVB are expected to pick up all three points in this game, but it may go down to the wire. Let’s just hope it’s not as close as when they played Málaga.
FC Basel v FC Schalke 04
It’s been a very interesting weekend for Schalke after an incredible 3-3 draw with Hoffenheim on Saturday. A sterner test faces them in Basel on Tuesday night, with the Swiss side favorites to ruin what could be a perfect start in this year’s competition for the Germans.
The exciting experiment that is Kevin-Prince Boateng in the false 9 position appears to have been working like a dream for Schalke so far this season. He is available after travelling separately on Monday after a court date in Düsseldorf on Friday. Also, Jermaine Jones has spoken out about the interesting story reported by Bild over the weekend that the American midfielder had been suspended by the club. Jones tweeted “On my way to training soon!! Surgery ?? No… Schalke 04 is more important atm!! Reading BILD is always the funniest moment of my day!” Jones’ tweet all but ended any speculation that he had been suspended from playing by the club. Julian Draxler is an injury doubt going into the game, but has travelled with the side and will train on Tuesday morning before having a fitness test.
Basel’s player to watch is Mohammed Salah, who scored the equaliser during the Swiss side’s surprise win at Chelsea in the opening fixture.
Manchester City v Bayern München
Arguably the two best squads in Europe will go head to head on Wednesday night in Manchester in one of the most highly anticipated group games in recent history.
After their highly-comfortable 3-0 triumph over CSKA Moskva two weeks ago, Manchester City will provide a much tougher test than the Russians did. Guardiola’s men looked comfortable on Saturday against Wolfsburg but struggled in front of goal and the likes of Vincent Kompany, Pablo Zabaleta and Matija Nastasić will offer no easy ride for the Bavarians, so improvements will have to be made by the Catalan manager and his players.
Manchester City are coming into the game off the back of a surprising 3-2 defeat to Aston Villa and are expected to be chomping at the bit to bounce back. The biggest threat facing Bayern on Wednesday will be City’s new found central midfield duo of Fernandinho and Yaya Touré, which has lit up the Premier League so far this season. Yaya Touré is in sparkling form so far this season and will be key to any success Man City have this season in Europe. The likes of ‘Kun’ Agüero, Samir Nasri, Álvaro Negredo and David Silva are also all available for City. Mario Götze could earn a start for Bayern after being an unused substitute during Saturday’s game. The player to watch is, of course, Yaya Touré.
Bayer Leverkusen v Real Sociedad
Leverkusen will be looking to continue the impressive display they showed in the first hour of their game against Manchester United. Although the score line read 4-2, Leverkusen could hold their heads high after leading twice at Old Trafford. On top of that, this week they welcome back their star midfielder, Lars Bender, to the side.
Rumours have been going around this weekend that Arsenal were interested in making a £20m bid for Bender in January. This speculation (as expected) was quickly quashed in today’s (Monday) pre-match press conference. Bayer revealed that Bender’s contract has no release clause and therefore the player and the club have no interest in opening any transfer talks. It is likely that if any deal would happen, Leverkusen would want to line-up a replacement before making any sales, like they did with André Schürrle.
The player to watch for Real Sociedad is Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman has scored three goals in all competitions this season, including a goal on Saturday during a 1-1 draw with Sevilla, and one of the goals of the season so far against Olympique Lyonnais in the Champiosn League Qualifying Round First Leg.
Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Olympique Marseille
FC Basel 2-2 Schalke
Manchester City 2-2 Bayern München
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Real Sociedad
Do you agree with Alex’s predictions? Let us know what yours are in the comments box below.
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