Champions League Matchday One Preview4 min read
The Champions League returns midweek and holders Liverpool begin their defence in Naples on Matchday One. These are my predictions for all the ties involving the Premier League sides.
Napoli v Liverpool
The sides met in the group stages last season and Napoli ran out deserved winners in Italy despite the fact that the only goal of the game came in the 90th minute.
The Reds have improved again in the last 12 months, however, and I expect the holders to gain a narrow, but significant, victory in Naples in what promises to be a tight, close affair.
Tip: Liverpool to win
Chelsea v Valencia
The Europa League holders Chelsea are unbeaten in six previous ties against Valencia (W3 D3) and The Oranges conceded five at Barcelona at the Nou Camp on Saturday.
The Blues scored five at Molineux at the weekend and I hope to see Frank Lampard’s exciting young side transfer that form to the Champions League stage in a game which is likely to see opportunities at both ends.
Tip: Chelsea to win and both teams to score
Olympiacos v Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiacos have not won in their last eight Champions League group games (L7 D1) and I would be disappointed if last season’s beaten finalists didn’t make a winning start as they bid to go one better this season.
The hosts scored five in the Greek Superleague at the weekend and have only conceded once in nine competitive games so far this term. They have not been meeting sides of the quality of the north London outfit, however, and I expect the Premier League side, who warmed up with their best performance of the season against Palace on Saturday, to take maximum points in Athens.
Tip: Spurs to win
Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City
City play Shakhtar for the third successive year in the group stages, but they do so on the back of a surprise 3-2 loss at Norwich in the Premier League on Saturday.
City scored nine times without reply in the two ties between the teams last term and I expect to see another comfortable evening for Pep Guardiola’s side despite that chastening defeat at Carrow Road.
One thing is for sure, City must improve defensively if they are to retain their Premier League title or make a realistic challenge for a first Champions League.
Tip: City -1 on the handicap
Michael’s midweek wager: Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs