Big Guns Look To Maintain Momentum (pt.1)
The Champions League resumes this week with the fancied teams looking to extend their good starts and improve on their Champions League betting odds. All four English clubs won their first matches in the tournament, along with La Liga giants Real Madrid, while Barcelona and perennial dark horses Inter Milan shared the spoils in their San Siro clash.
Also getting off to impressive starts were two of the Bundesliga entrants – Bayern Munich returning from Maccabi Haifa with all three points, while champions Wolfsburg comfortably dispatched CSKA Moscow by three goals to one.
The pick of tonight’s fixtures sees 2005 winners Liverpool travel to Serie A side Fiorentina. The Viola were once a major force in European football, boasting the likes of Gabriel Batistuta and Edmundo, before financial problems saw them demoted to Serie C2 (the lowest professional league in Italy) in 2002. They have since recovered however, and will be looking to make a splash on the biggest stage once more.
The Italian side will be hoping to bounce back from an away defeat at Lyon, while Liverpool will be without Yossi Benayoun and Javier Mascherano, as they look to stretch their winning run to seven games in all competitions.
In Group F, the holders face current leaders Dynamo Kiev at the Nou Camp and manger Pep Guardiola is taking nothing for granted.
He said: “If there is one team that isn’t favourite to win the title, then it’s us because no one has ever been Champions League winner two years in a row. We have confidence after winning the competition last year, but we know we have to work hard for it again like we did last season.
“By being humble we were able to win, but you have to prove that every day, that’s what football is about.
They [Dynamo] are top of their domestic league and have very good players such as Shevchenko and Gusev. They are tactically astute under Gazzaev.”
Elsewhere, Scottish champions Rangers face a tough test at home to Sevilla in an open looking Group G. Rangers picked up an impressive point in their first match away to Stuttgart and will be desperate to build on their good start against the group favourites.
The pick of the games in Group H sees the top two play each other as 2006 runners up Arsenal play host to Olympiakos. Arsenal bounced back from two goals down to triumph in their opener with Standard Liege 3-2, while Greek side Olympiakos will be confident of making an impression on the Champions League this year, with new man Zico at the helm.
Tuesday 29th September
(KO 19:45 unless stated otherwise)
E: Debrecen v Lyon
E: Fiorentina v Liverpool
F: Barcelona v Dynamo Kiev
F: Rubin Kazan v Inter Milan, (17:30)
G: Rangers v Sevilla
G: Unirea Urziceni v VfB Stuttgart
H: Arsenal v Olympiakos
H: AZ Alkmaar v Standard Liege