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Champions League Preview: Schalke Host Benfica, Bremen Travel To Inter

Bayern Munich have represented the Bundesliga with another good Champions League result, and this time away to Swiss champions FC Basel. The Bavarian side reached the Champions League final last season, which they lost to Inter, but little Champions League threat has come from anywhere else in the Bundesliga. Werder Bremen and Schalke have their chance to challenge Europe’s top sides for a place in the round of sixteen, but have both made stuttering starts to their European campaigns this season.

Schalke 04 – SL Benfica

Felix Magath’s side have finally begun getting results at the domestic level, although four points from six games is definitely not where Magath would have seen his team at this stage before the season started. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who was brought in on transfer deadline day from AC Milan, will likely lead the line tonight for Schalke. Partnering the Dutchmen will most likely be Spanish legend Raul, who finally scored his first Bundesliga goal on the weekend and will look to continue his goalscoring form in Europe against Benfica. While Schalke have been impressive going forward, their defensive woes are still very evident. Benedikt Howedes, Nicolas Plestan, Christoph Metzelder, Joel Matip, Hans Sarpei… none of them have quite been up to snuff so far this season and have made a catalogue of errors already. Defensive instability will likely cost Schalke here against Benfica, who boast a wealth of attacking talent as well as a tough defense. Oscar Cardozo will likely lead the line for Benfica, and his physicality will provide a stern test for Schalke’s central defenders. Behind him, Pablo Aimar, Fabio Coentrao and Javier Saviola will support Cardozo in attack, and they could be far too much to handle for Magath’s rickety back-line. Manuel Neuer will once again be key for Schalke, but Benfica may just overrun their German counterparts. Javi Garcia and Ruben Amorim will likely look to hold the midfield for Benfica, and they may boss the game ahead of Jermaine Jones and Peer Kluge. This will be a stern test for Schalke. 1-3.

Internazionale – Werder Bremen

Last year’s Champions League winners Inter have not looked quite themselves just yet this season in Serie A, but that is most certainly down to the loss of Jose Mourinho as manager. Ex-Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has taken charge at Inter, but it is very unlikely that he will be able to replicate the success Jose Mourinho had. Inter still boast the same squad as they did the season before, but they lack the belief and confidence that lifted them to so much success this season. After losing 0-1 to Roma on the weekend, Benitez’s side will be looking to bounce back against Werder Bremen. Samuel Eto’o, Goran Pandev and Wesley Sneijder will all likely feature, and their technical skill will likely provide a massive test for Bremen’s back-line. Fortunately, Per Mertesacker has made his return to the side, and their will be a lot relying on him to keep Inter out. A point here, for Werder Bremen, will be a good result.

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