Here’s a quick rundown of the Tuesday games. My picks to win are in bold.
Stuttgart – Lyon
Lyon’s for has picked up in recent domestic outings while Stuttgart has continued to struggle. I don’t see that changing in this match. Lyon will probably win by a couple of goals.
Rangers – Barcelona (draw)
Rangers will play this match tight and a draw would have to be considered a victory of sorts for the Scottish club. Barca will miss the influence of Deco in midfield but Ronaldinho should start after missing their match on the weekend due to fatigue from international duty.
Dynamo Kyiv – Manchester United
I don’t think they’ll get 4 goal as they’ve done in their last 2 domestic matches but Manchester United should win this match to put themselves in great shape to qualify for the next round. Paul Scholes will be missing for United after picking up a knee injury in training but Nemanja Vidic will at least be on the bench and may possibly start after recovering from concussion problems.
Roma – Sporting Clube de Portugal
I sense an upset here. Sporting have played very well in the first two matches and despite losing to Manchester United, they did not look outmatched. Roma have had some problems keeping the ball out of their own net but they have covered that up with a dynamic attack. I’d look for Sporting to try and play a typical “small club” away game: nick an early goal, then tighten things up and ride out the storm.
CSKA Moskva – Internazionale (draw)
Inter have been very good in recent matches but the reason I am leaning toward a draw is that they have some selection issues to sort out for this match. Dejan Stankovi? is a doubt and Zlatan Ibrahimovi?, the two-goal hero against PSV, is struggling with illness. As we earlier documented, Cristian Chivu and David Suazo will miss out through suspension. CSKA will be buoyed by the return of playmaker Daniel Carvalho, who made his first start after seven months out with a knee injury in Saturday’s 1-0 win at FC Tom Tomsk.
PSV – Fenerbahçe (draw)
Mateja Kežman will not play against his old club but both Alex and Deivid De Souza will be available. Those two have been the biggest reasons why Fenerbahçe are sitting on top of the group. They will also have momentum from their 4-1 domestic league victory over Konyaspor. PSV also won their last domestic match, 3-1 over VVV Venlo, and their recent home record in the Champions League is impressive, with 13 wins, 3 draws and just 3 losses in their last 19 games. It’s a bit of a gamble to call a draw but I don’t see a lot to choose between the two sides.
Sevilla – Steaua
A tricky match but I’d expect Sevilla to come through with maximum points. The Spanish side look to have weathered the early season storm and their form has improved in recent weeks. They won 2-0 at the weekend in a league match against Levante and will look to improve their standing in Group H.
Arsenal – Slavia
Should be a comfortable win for Arsenal on their current form. I don’t expect Arsene Wenger will make many changes to his lineup despite veterans Gilberto and Jens Lehmann wanting starting roles. Arsenal have a couple of inury woes with Robin van Persie and Philippe Senderos but otherwise should field a strong lineup. Slavia will need a big effort to get anything from this match as midfielders Vladimír Šmicer, Dušan Švento and Petr Janda, as well as defenders Martin Latka and Erich Brabec, have all stayed in the Czech Republic with injuries.
Tuesday’s players to watch:
Karim Benzema (Lyon): I watched the Lyon-Monaco match this weekend and in one goal, Benzema showed all his qualities — pace, strength, patience and precision in front of goal. He’s on a roll in recent matches having scored twice for France during the international break, before returning to Lyon and scoring on the weekend. Benzema, who is only 19 years old, has 11 goals in 11 Ligue 1 matches this season and will be looking to get off the mark in Champions League play. Arsenal are reported to be actively scouting Benzema, along with teammate Hatim Ben Arfa, but Lyon (should they even entertain selling) will demand a big fee for either player.
Danko Lazovi? (PSV): After a few troubled seasons, Lazovi? had a breakthrough season at Vitesse, scoring 20 goals in 34 appearances. He is starting to develop an understanding with striker partner Danny Koevermans and scored the winner against CSKA on Matchday 1. With his pace and good positional sense, I think there is more to come from Lazovi?.
William Gallas (Arsenal): One of the few players on the Arsenal roster that could truly be called a veteran, Gallas started for the team on the weekend in a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers. His experience will be a good influence on the team and he is also a danger from set-pieces.
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