We enter Matchday 2 of the UEFA Champions League with palpable
excitement, as the first round provided entertainment, shock value and
tactical conundrums galore.We take you closer to what you should
expect from the teams filing out tonight by serving you the team news,
match facts and maybe, my predictions.
Fixtures for tonight:
7:45 Basel VS Schalke 04
7:45 Steaua Bucuresti VS Chelsea
7:45 Arsenal VS SSC Napoli
7:45 Borussia Dortmund VS Marseille
5:00 Zenit Petersburg VS Austria Wien
7:45 FC Porto VS Atletico Madrid
7:45 Ajax VS AC Milan
7:45 Celtic VS Barcelona
BASEL V SCHALKE 04
The leaders in group E go head to head on matchday two of the
Champions League here, with both having picked up maximum points a
fortnight ago.For Basel, it looks like it will be the usual 4-4-1-1
formation with Streller leading the attack and Stocker just playing
right behind him. They will go into this one with full blown
confidence after stunning last season’s Europa league winners Chelsea
in the first round at home.
For Schalke, after beating Steaua Bucharest 3-0 in their first group
game, Schalke know how much a win would boost their own chances of
reaching the last 16 and they are going to St. Jakob-Park with a clear
intention to pick up a positive result.
*Basel could be without Fabian Schär who was forced off at the weekend
with a knee injury.
*He was replaced by Gaston Sauro and the Argentine could start against
*Otherwise it should be ‘as you were’ for the Swiss team that won at Chelsea.
*Schalke have plenty of injury worries for the trip to Switzerland,
with Christian Fuchs the latest to be added to their lengthy absentee
*Julian Draxler and Ralf Fährmann are both doubts after missing the
3-3 draw at Hoffenheim at the weekend.
*Papadopoulos and Huntelaar are two of the German side’s most notable
continued missing players.
*It’s been confirmed that Jermaine Jones has been dropped after a
string of poor performances.
Basel have won their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including
Schalke are undefeated in 10 of their last 11 matches in the Champions
League (including qualifiers).
Prediction: Basel 2-1 Schalke 04
Steaua Bucuresti VS Chelsea
Chelsea travel to Romania for this clash searching for their first
points of the campaign after a loss to Basel a fortnight ago. They
have only won 1 away game this season and that was at Swindon, but
they will be wary after losing this tie back in March and should be
prepared. Steaua lost 3-0 at Schalke last time out and so are also
looking to get off the mark here, but Chelsea provide the toughest
opposition in their group for that task.
*Alexandru Chipciu and Stefan Nikolic are out of this tie, but
otherwise they have little to worry about in terms of injury.
*Federico Plovaccari could start up front after scoring at the
weekend, while an injury suffered in training by Mihai Pintilii is
threatening to rule him out.
*Looks like Fernando Torres will start up front in Europe and he is
set to have another good game especially after the FA in England have
declared that he will not be facing any retrospective disciplinary
action for scratching the face of Tottenham’s Jan Vertonghen.
*Eden Hazard has not travelled after picking up an injury in that game.
*Kevin De Bruyne has been dropped and hasn’t travelled after a
particularly poor performance at Swindon last week.
Otherwise Chelsea have a fully fit squad for the trip to Romania.
Prediction: Steaua Bucuresti 1-2 Chelsea
Arsenal VS SSC Napoli
No doubt, they are two in-form teams in Europe’s top 5 leagues and
that will come into play when they meet at the Emirates Stadium for
the first time in a competitive competition, with the victor expected
to top Group F after the opening two rounds of fixtures.
For Arsenal, sincle losing on the EPL opening day fixture to Aston
Villa, they have been on blistering run of form winning their last 9
games in all competitions. Napoli have also been impressive in Serie A
and have dropped points just once this season.
*Manager Arsene Wenger will be without Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott,
Yaya Sanogo, Lukas Podolksi, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Abou Diaby
*Tomas Rosicky is back in training, but unlikely to start, while Jack
Wilshere is expected to recover from a knock picked up against Swansea
to take his place on the left wing.
*Rafael Benitez will be without the services of full-back Christian
Maggio, who has a knee problem, but is Napoli’s only injury worry.
*Gonzalo Higuaín is a doubt for the trip to the Emirates and is likely
to start from the bench.
Arsenal have won their last 4 matches and have scored at least 2 goals
in the Champions League (including qualifiers).
Napoli have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches in
the Champions League (including qualifiers).
Prediction: Arsenal 2-2 Napoli
Borussia Dortmund VS Marseille
Another exciting game to look forward to seeing tonight, Dortmund top
the Bundesliga on goal difference following their 5-0 win over
Freiburg and will look to transfer their domestic form into Europe
after an opening group stages defeat to Napoli.
Marseille have returned to winning ways following a poor run of form
and confidence is high in the Ligue 1 side as they look to pick up a
crucial 3 points.Regardless of Klopp’s one-match suspension, the home
team is expected to win this tie.
*Borussia Dortmund will be without Sebastian Kehl, Ilkay Gündogan,
Marcel Schmelzer and Lukasz Piszczek, who are all sidelined through
injury, while Roman Weidenfeller is suspended.
*Jurgen Klopp will also be forced to watch the game from the stands
after being sent off during the 2-1 defeat to Napoli 2 weeks ago.
*Jérémy Morel André-Pierre Gignac are both doubts and it remains to be
seen whether both will recover in time for the encounter with the
Marseille won both meetings between the two teams when they met in the
2011/12 group stages and will look to replicate that form in Germany.
Marseille have lost their last 4 matches and have conceded at least 2
goals in the Champions League (including qualifiers).
Borussia Dortmund have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 3
matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-1 Marseille
PORTO VS ATLETICO MADRID
Porto made a winning start to their Champions League campaign last
time out, overcoming Austria Wien 1-0 in Austria, but the Portuguese
side are yet to really impress this term. Atletico also picked up 3
points in their Group G opener and are yet to drop points in La Liga
this season following their 1-0 win in the Madrid derby at the
*The Portuguese side have no injury worries ahead for the welcome of
Atletico, with Steven Defour returning from his spell on the sidelines
with a cameo appearance in the 1-0 won over Vitoria at the weekend.
With that, head coach Paulo Fonseca is expected to name an unchanged
starting XI from Friday’s victory.
*Head coach Diego Simeone will be without Adrian, who is injured,
while Diego Costa is suspended with Leo Baptistao expected to partner
David Villa up front.
Porto have kept a clean sheet in their last 3 matches against Atletico
in all competitions.
Prediction: PORTO 1-1 ATLETICO MADRID
AJAX VS AC MILAN
Ajax have followed up successive 4-0 defeats at Barcelona and PSV
Eindhoven with 4-2 and 6-0 home wins, and although those were against
lesser opposition, their confidence will have received a much needed
boost while AC Milan go in search of another 3 points after overcoming
Celtic late on in their clash a fortnight ago, but away to Ajax this
will probably be a tougher challenge. Ajax won at Milan in their last
meeting in 2010, and the Italians are in something of a crisis at the
moment, down in 9th in Serie A. After a 1-0 win over Sampdoria at the
weekend and with Balotelli available Milan will be stronger, but
possibly not sufficiently to win this one.
*Ajax have a fully fit squad for the visit of AC Milan on Tuesday, and
the likes of Sigthorsson should be back in the starting lineup.
*Bojan should start against his former employers.
*Jasper Cillessen could keep the goalkeeper spot after a good
performance and clean sheet at the weekend.
*Mario Balotelli will play as he is suspended in domestic competition.
*Stephan El Shaarawy has suffered a minor fracture in his foot and so
will be out for at least the next few weeks.
Ajax have been losing at both half time and full time in their last 3
matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers) and that has
seen them concede at least 4 goals.
Prediction: Ajax 2-2 AC Milan
CELTIC VS BARCELONA
Celtic held firm against Milan last time out before eventually
succumbing to a 2-0 defeat, and will look to attack the Spanish, who
are unable to call upon Lionel Messi. However, the strength in depth
running through the Barcelona ranks means they’re expected to secure
an away win in this one. Celtic’s 5-2 win over Kilmarnock kept them
within touching distance of league leaders Inverness Caledonian
Thistle, albeit with a one-game advantage over their Scottish
counterparts. Barcelona currently sit atop La Liga following their 2-0
win over Almeria, albeit on goal difference only with Atletico Madrid
also enjoying an 100%
start to the season.
*Neil Lennon will be expected to field a 4-5-1 for the welcome of
Barcelona as Celtic aim to surprise the La Liga side at Celtic Park
for the second successive season.
*Celtic will be without the services of Steven Mouyokolo, who has an
Achilles problem, while Mikael Lustig could come in to replace Adam
Matthews, who was withdrawn after 40 minutes in the 5-2 win over
Kilmarnock at the weekend.
*Barcelona maintained their 100% start to the La Liga season following
the 2-0 win over Almeria at the weekend, but the victory came at a
cost.Lionel Messi was withdrawn through injury and joins Carles Puyol,
Ibrahim Afellay, Jordi Alba and Isaac Cuenca on the sidelines.
*Neymar is expected to come in to replace his Argentine teammate.
Prediction: Celtic 1-2 Barcelona