Match Day 2 – (Wednesday Preview)

Match day 2 action continues tonight across different European centers in the UEFA Champions League with a lot of mouth-watering clashes on the cards. Let’s take you closer to what you should expect from the teams filing out tonight by serving you the team news and match facts.

Fixtures for tonight:
Group A
7:45    Bayer Leverkusen VS Real Sociedad
7:45    Shakhtar Donetsk VS Manchester United
Group B
7:45    Juventus VS Galatasaray
7:45    Real Madrid VS FC København
Group C
7:45    Anderlecht VS Olympiakos
7:45    Paris Saint Germain VS Benfica
Group D
5:00    CSKA Moscow VS Viktoria Plzen
7:45    Manchester City VS Bayern Munich

*Nigerian time.

PREVIEWS:
Bayer Leverkusen VS Real Sociedad
leverkuse4606_w1

Both teams lost their opening group stage matches this season and are in need of a positive result here to avoid being left behind so early on. After coming through their Champions League playoff with Lyon, Real Sociedad has been on terrible form; failing to win any of their 7 other games in all competitions. Leverkusen, meanwhile, bounced back from defeat at Old Trafford with 3 consecutive wins, and should make it 4 in a row here expectedly.

TEAM NEWS:
BAYER LEVERKUSEN:
* Gonzalo Castro is still out, Simon Rolfes will continue in central midfield.
*Jens Hegeler is also out through injury.
*Bayer Leverksuen have fielded a consistent eleven this season and there will be a familiar look to the lineup.

REAL SOCIEDAD:
*David Zurutuza returned from injury to make the bench against Sevilla at the weekend, and could be involved here.

*Sociedad remains without 4 players, though and are severely weakened at present.
*Carlos Vela could play centrally again with Xabi Prieto out.

MATCH FACTS:
Leverkusen have conceded at least 3 goals and have been losing at both half time and full time in their last 3 matches in the Champions League (including qualifiers).

Shakhtar Donetsk VS Manchester United
shaktar399_w1 Manchester United coach David Moyes take

Following Manchester United’s worst start to a domestic campaign in 24 years. The pressure is on David Moyes as he leads his Manchester United team to Ukraine to face a Shakhtar side that have a 100% record at home to English opposition in the Champions League. United’s 2-1 home loss to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday was their third defeat already in just six Premier League games, but at least Moyes oversaw a 4-2 win against Bayer Leverkusen in his opening Champions League group game in charge a fortnight ago. Shaktar beat Chelsea last season as they crashed out in the group stages, and United, playing the way they have been recently, will need to improve if they are to avoid a similar fate. Although, Shakhtar needed a late comeback to draw 2-2 away to unheralded local rivals Metalurg at the weekend but their European opener was an impressive 2-0 win at Real Sociedad.

TEAM NEWS
SHAKTAR DONETSK:
*No injury worries for the host as they could well field the same team that played in the impressive 2-0 win over Real Sociedad on matchday 1.
*Summer signing Wellington Nem has had surgery on a knee injury and been left out of Shaktar’s Champions League squad.

MANCHESTER UNITED:
*Rio Ferdinand, Fabio and Anderson have all been ruled out of this tie so they didn’t travel.
*David Moyes has an almost fully fit squad for the tough trip to Shakhtar after resting a number of players at the weekend.
*Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic and Marouane Fellaini should all be back in the starting lineup.

Juventus VS Galatasaray
After being held by Copenhagen two weeks ago, Italian champions Juventus chase a first win in Group B as they play host to Galatasaray, who are seeking an improvement on their 6-1 thumping at the hands of Real Madrid. Antonio Conte’s Juve, who won the last of their two European Cups in 1996, beat city rivals Torino 1-0 at the weekend thanks to a Paul Pogba strike and remain unbeaten in all competitions this season, even if they trail Roma by two points at the top of Serie A.
The Turks come into the game with a new coach who is familiar with taking on Juve. Former Lazio, Inter Milan and Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini was on Monday appointed as the replacement for the sacked Fatih Terim. His remit is to revive a side who sit in mid-table in their domestic league with just one win from five games. Galatasaray, like their Italian rivals, are also unbeaten in Turkey but the Turkish side are in a transitional period as of late, but will unlikely bring any fresh ideas to the encounter. Juventus will aim to press high up the pitch from the off and have enough about them to pick up all 3 points.

TEAM NEWS:
JUVENTUS
*Claudio Marchisio started the derby win over Torino, but may drop to the bench at the expense of Andrea Pirlo.
*Antonio Conte will likely prefer the partnership of  Mirko Vucinic and Carlos Tévez up front over Fabio Quagliarella and Fernando Llorente.
*The three-man defence that started Sunday’s victory will retain their place in the XI.

GALATASARAY
*Wesley Sneijder is doubtful, but expected to recover from injury in time to start behind the strike pairing of Burak Yilmaz and Didier Drogba.

Real Madrid VS FC København
Galatasaray AS v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League

Copenhagen are underperforming in the Danish Superliga and currently sit 11th after taking just 10 points from the opening 10 games this season. With the poor form of the Danes, coupled with home advantage and the superior strength in depth in Real, a comfortable home win is the expected outcome at the Bernabeu. One can as well say, this is not the right time for the Danes to play the Merengues. Real Madrid’s disappointing defeat to Atletico Madrid has highlighted weaknesses within the squad and Carlos Ancelotti must eradicate the problems in the team and quickly.

TEAM NEWS:
REAL MADRID:
*Carlo Ancelotti may look to make a number of changes, with Raphael Varane expected to come in at centre-back and Álvaro Arbeloa dropping to the bench
*Xabi Alonso and Marcelo are both sidelined with injury, while Gareth Bale will also miss out.

FC København:
*Coach Stale Solbakken will have his full squad available and therefore will likely field his strongest XI.
*The Danish side may field the same team that secured a morale boosting draw against Juventus on Match day 1.

MATCH FACTS
Real Madrid have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 matches in the Champions League.

Anderlecht VS Olympiakos
ander451_w1Belgian champions Anderlecht and Greek title-holders Olympiakos are on paper, the outsiders to qualify from Group C and both were beaten on matchday one. Anderlecht went down 2-0 away to Benfica while Olympiakos were outclassed in a 4-1 home loss to Paris Saint-Germain. The Belgians have a proud history and beat AEK Athens home and away when they last faced Greek opponents in the Europa League two years ago, but John Van den Brom’s men are fourth in their domestic Pro League, nine points behind leaders Standard, and appear ill-equipped to make an impact in this competition. Olympiakos, who have lost 99 times in Europe, are top of the Greek Super League without defeat and may fancy their chances of recording an away win here.

TEAM NEWS:
ANDERLECHT:
*At the centre-back position, Kouyate, Mangulu and Nuytinck will all vie for a starting berth.
*Top scorer Matias Suarez will lead the line supported by Massimo Bruno and Frank Acheampong from the flanks.

OLYMPIAKOS
*Medjani and Manolas compete for a start at centre-back alongside Siovas.
*Saviola and Mitroglou looks set to start alongside one another.

MATCH FACTS
Anderlecht have conceded at least 2 goals in their last 3 matches in the Champions League.

Olympiakos are yet to concede a domestic goal in their four away games thus far.

Paris Saint Germain VS Benfica
Paris Saint-Germain underlined their status as Group C favourites by thumping Olympiakos in Greece two weeks ago, and can take a big step towards qualifying for the last 16 by beating Benfica at the Parc des Princes. Laurent Blanc’s side have struggled to convince so far this season, but remain unbeaten in all competitions while Benfica – who beat Anderlecht 2-0 in their opening game – are only fifth in the Portuguese top flight, five points behind leaders Porto. However, the Lisbon club can expect a warm backing in the French capital, which is home to a large Portuguese population.

TEAM NEWS
PSG:
*Centre-backs Thiago Silva and Alex are both out so Marquinhos and Camara will continue to partner one another in defence.
*The partnership between Ibrahimovic and Cavani hasn’t really sparked to life as of yet but they may get another chance to work.

BENFICA:
*Cardozo is likely to get the nod up front in Europe as usual, with Lima the most likely to drop to the bench.
*Gaitan made his return from injury, along with Cortez at the weekend and both could start in Paris.

MATCH FACTS
PSG are undefeated in their last 9 matches in the Champions League.
Benfica are undefeated in their last 5 matches against PSG in all competitions.

CSKA Moscow VS Viktoria Plzen
cska04562_w2

The poor state of the Arena Khimki pitch in Moscow led to this match being moved 700 kilometres to St Petersburg. CSKA and the Czech champions both lost their opening games and are expected to fight it out for third place in Group D behind Bayern Munich and Manchester City. CSKA’s preparations for this encounter have not been the best – they lost 2-0 at Terek Grozny at the weekend and have failed to win, or even score, in their last three domestic matches. In contrast, Pavel Vrba’s Pilsen are still unbeaten in the Czech league and have won five and lost two of their last seven European away games.

TEAM NEWS
CSKA MOSCOW:
*The Russian side will be without Aleksandrs Cauna, who is out until November, while Alan Dzagoev and Seydou Doumbia are both doubtful for the welcome of the Czech outfit.

VIKTORIA PLZEN
*David Limberskey is a doubt for the trip to Russia and may miss out, with Radim Reznik expected to deputise.

Manchester City VS Bayern Munich
FBL-EUR-C1-MAN CITY-PRESSER FBL-EUR-C1-BAYERN MUNICH-TRAINING

Manchester City’s home clash with Pep Guardiola’s reigning European champions Bayern Munich will capture the imagination of most on Wednesday evening. This encounter at the Etihad Stadium promises to be fascinating, with City manager Manuel Pellegrini coming up against Bayern’s Pep Guardiola again. The pair are familiar with one another from their time in Spain, in particular when they occupied the dugouts at Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively in 2009-10. The two Group D favourites meet on the back of wins in their opening matches, with City triumphing away to Viktoria Pilsen while Bayern beat CSKA Moscow at home. Goals from David Silva and Yaya Toure gave City a 2-0 win when they played host to Bayern in this competition two years ago, but the English side have failed to progress beyond the group stage in either of the last two years while Bayern are the reigning European champions. Manuel Pellegrini aims to overcome the Spaniard for the first time in his managerial history. However, it wasn’t ideal preparation for the Chilean, who saw his side lose to Aston Villa at the weekend. Guardiola, on the other hand, oversaw a 1-0 win against Wolfsburg and will want to see his Bayern continue their recent good run of form as he aims to become the first manager to successfully defend the Champions League title.

TEAM NEWS:
MANCHESTER CITY:
*Manager Manuel Pellegrini was without Sergio Agüero and David Silva for the weekend loss, but both are available for selection against Bayern.
*Martín Demichelis and Jack Rodwell will certainly miss out through injury.

BAYERN MUNICH
*Pep Guardiola will be without Javi Martínez, Thiago Alcántara, Holger Badstuber and Pierre Höjbjerg through injury.
*Mario Götze was an unused sub in the 1-0 win over Wolfsburg at the weekend and could play some part at the Etihad, albeit from the bench.

MATCH FACTS
Bayern have won their last 6 matches in the Champions League, scored at least 2 goals in their last 6 matches and have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 matches in the Champions League

Adeyemi Adesanya
Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan
http://www.halftimeng.com

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