The Champions League did not throw any big surprises yesterday, but today is another day... Twente visit Spurs, Manchester United to Valencia, Bremen travel to Guiseppe Meazza and Barcelona get a chance to take some revenge at Rubin Kazan... a few tasty games are guaranteed tonight even for the neutral fans:
Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Rubin Kazan v Barcelona
Hapoel Tel-Aviv v Lyon
Inter v Werder Bremen
Panathinaikos v FC Copenhagen
Rangers v Bursaspor
Schalke 04 v Benfica
Tottenham v FC Twente
Valencia v Man Utd
Valencia host Man Utd in one of the most anticipated games today... Man Utd have struggled this season, and their away form has been poor (3 games, 3 draws) in the premiership. They also have minor injury crisis at hand, with Rooney, Valencia and Giggs all unavailable. After being held to a frustating home draw by Rangers in their first CL game, this is perhaps the worst time for Sir Alex Ferguson's side to face their biggest test in the group. Away at the hostile Mestalla is never an easy game.
Its made even more difficult by the surprisingly & astonishingly good early form of Valencia. Surprising because Valencia sold some of their biggest stars this summer including Villa, Silva, Zigic, Marchena, etc. Astonishing because after 5 games, Valencia lead la Lega over the big spendig powerhouses of Barcelona & Real Madrid. Also Valencia won their opening CL game handsomely by Bursapor (4-0). There is an air of eager anticipation at the Mestalla today.
Probable starting line ups:
Miguel - Navarro - Costa - Mathieu
Albeda - Banega
Joaquín - Mata - Hernandez
Park -------------------------- Nani
Gibson - Fletcher - Scholes
Evra - Ferdinand - Vidic - O'Shea
Van der Sar
Prediction: Valencia 1-1 Manchester United
At Guiseppe Meazza
The European Champions host a tricky Bremen side tonight, and all long term Inter fans such as yours truely know well that anything can happen. This is not a good time for Inter. We may sit pretty on top of the Serie A table, but our game has been far from convincing so far this season. New coach Benitez will surely need time to get his ideas to work, but last weekends loss at Roma will not help his preparations. On top of that, this game arrives at a time of an injury crisis at the club. Materazzi, Motta, Samuel, Suazo, and even the "unbreakable" captain Zanetti are ruled out, while there are serious doubts on the fitness of both Milito & Pandev, though latest updates are encouraging on the latter.
Bremen have a crisis of their own, with Naldo, Boenisch, Fritz, Frings and Pizarro all ruled out after the game with Hamburg over the weekend. Their weekend performance would give them a lot of confidence though, as would the fact that they have an enviable record against Italian opposition, including Inter. In the 16 games against Italian sides in the CL, they have won 6 and drawn 6. In their 4 games against Inter in the last decade, they have won 1 and drawn 2. Bremen know they can nick this one, confidence & motivation will not be an issue. Their defence might be.
Probable starting line ups:
Maicon - Lucio - Cordoba - Chivu
Stankovic - Cambiasso - Muntari
Pandev - Eto'o
Arnautovic - Almeida
Jensen - Marin - Borowski - Hunt
Silvestre - Prodl - Mertesacker - Wesley
There is the additional battle coefficients going on between Serie A and Bundesliga, which adds an edge to this game.
Prediction: Inter 1-1 Bremen
Its going to be a really exciting day of football. And there is a good chance we will see a big name upset...