Champions League Preview: Group Stage Round 45 min read
There are some mouth-watering Champions League fixtures to look forward to this week and I’ve had a look through the fixtures and picked out my top tips.
Manchester United v Benfica
Real Madrid were the last side to beat United at Old Trafford in European competition back in March 2013 and it is hard to see Benfica buck that trend, given they have lost all three group games so far and have not had a shot on target in two of those three ties.
United already have more than one foot in the knock out stages of the competition, but I expect them to make it four wins out of four and book their place in the last 16 at Old Trafford against the Portuguese champions.
Tip: United to win to nil
Celtic v Bayern Munich
Celtic will take heart from the fact that Bayern have conceded seven goals in their last two Champions League games on the road, but you have to go back to 1989 for the last time a Scottish side beat the Bundesliga champions.
Jupp Heynckes has steadied the ship at Bayern since replacing Carlo Ancelotti earlier this month, and I expect the visitors to continue their good form at Celtic Park.
Tip: Bayern Munich to win to nil
Roma v Chelsea
There was nothing between the sides in a six-goal thriller at the Bridge on Matchday 3 and I can’t split the teams back in the Italian capital. Eden Hazard has created more chances than any other player in the competition so far this season, but Roma showed in London just what a good side they are. It promises to be another cracker and a draw wouldn’t be the worst result in the world for either team.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Liverpool v Maribor
I shall be at Anfield with BT Sport and expect to see Liverpool back among the goals having put seven past Maribor in the reverse fixture back in Slovenia. The Reds currently top the Group but, with a trip to Seville and a visit from Spartak Moscow to follow, they cannot afford any slip-ups against a side who looked out of place in the competition back in Maribor.
Tip: Liverpool -3 goals
Napoli v Manchester City
Napoli currently sit top of Serie A but they badly need a result against City if they want to progress to the knock out stages of the Champions League. The Italians showed at the Etihad just what a good side they are, but City remain in irresistible form in the Premier League and they are a match for any side in Europe at the minute.
Tip: City to win
Tottenham v Real Madrid
Gareth Bale is unlikely to be fit to face his old club at Wembley having missed the reverse fixture and the Whites’ 2-1 defeat to newly-promoted Girona at the weekend. A draw was a fair result in the Bernabeu and I think Spurs can pick up another valuable point en route to the knock out stages with Borussia Dortmund on the back foot following their draw in Nicosia on Matchday 3.
Tip: Game to finish in a draw
Midweek treble: Manchester United, Bayern and Manchester City to win