Matchday 3 sees some crucial match-ups but none may be more important at this stage than the Standard Liege – Olympiacos fixture. Arsenal look to be a lock for top spot in Group H but second place is wide open. A win today for Olympiacos would put them in the driver’s seat.
If they lose at home today against Arsenal, last season’s Eredivise champions AZ Alkmaar could be done. AZ are struggling this season, having already lost five of their ten Eredivisie matches and have only collected one point from the first two Matchdays. Coach Louis van Gaal, who guided them to the title last season, left in the summer to take over at Bayern Munich, and his successor Ronald Koeman, formerly of Barcelona, has not got the team playing at their best yet. Another loss would severely dent their hopes of even making the Europa League parachute spot.
Another club that has under-performed in recent outings is Liverpool. Life was not a beach for the Reds as a loss to Sunderland in the English Premier League on Saturday followed on the heels of a loss in the domestic league to Chelsea and a defeat in the Champions League to Fiorentina. The once-solid back four has many critics now and a loss to Lyon could have the fans and media calling for change. Rafa Benitez might be looking ahead to a crucial clash against Manchester United this coming weekend so it will be interesting to see what his team selection and formation will be. Benitez did indicate in his press conference on Monday that Fernando Torres would not be available so that will likely mean Dirk Kuyt starting up front on his own.
Full Tuesday schedule (my predictions in bold):
AZ v Arsenal
Barcelona v Rubin Kazan
Debreceni v Fiorentina
Inter Milan v Dynamo Kiev
Liverpool v Lyon (DRAW)
Olympiacos v Standard Liege
Rangers v Unirea Urziceni
VfB Stuttgart v Sevilla (DRAW)