With Real Madrid already qualified for the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League, Barcelona and Valencia could also seal their berths into the knockout round with wins in their group match this midweek. Barcelona will travel to Athens to face a Panathinaikos club that did not win either of their two previous home matches in the group stage against FC København and Rubin Kazan.
Barcelona cannot overlook Panathinaikos with Real Madrid looming next Monday in El Clásico, and while a draw against Panathinaikos would not necessarily hurt the Catalan club, they do not want their last group game against Rubin Kazan to matter. Barcelona has failed to defeat Rubin in their three meetings in the past calendar year, so Pep Guardiola will likely send out a strong team against Panathinaikos to take care of business, also hoping at the same time that no one gets an injury or a knock that will force the player away from action against Real Madrid.
For Valencia CF, they need to win at home against Bursaspor to give themselves the optimum chance of advancing to the next stage of the Champions League. Valencia demoralized the Turkish club 0-4 in their first ever Champions League group stage game on Matchday 1, and Bursaspor has not played much better since that match, losing their three subsequent matches in the group to maintain their 100% losing record.
A Valencia win forces Rangers to defeat an indomitable Manchester United club, and although Rangers will have the slight advantage of hosting Manchester United at Ibrox Park with its atmosphere, especially for European nights, the chances that the Scottish champions will defeat the Red Devils are not very high. With this in mind, the usually conservative Unai Emery should and will likely deploy both Roberto Soldado and Aritz Aduriz as a pair against Bursaspor because Bursaspor has not scored a single goal in the group stage, and a second holding midfielder would not be necessary to quell an impotent attack.
Ajax vs. Real Madrid – 2:30 PM on Fox Deportes and DirecTV channel 482 (482-1 for HD) (delayed at 5:00 PM on Fox Soccer Channel HD)
Panathinaikos vs. FC Barcelona – 2:30 PM on Fox Deportes (delayed at 5:00 PM on Fox Soccer Channel HD)
Valencia vs. Bursaspor – 2:30 PM on DirecTV channel 485 (485-1 for HD)