This week sees a re-run of the matchday 3 fixtures just a week after they met with the venues reversed. The Champions League group stage gets serious for those still scrabbling for points to progress or even to reach the Europa League.
Tuesday 11th October
Borussia Dortmund v Sevilla
What a difference a week makes in football. Sevilla will take to the field on Tuesday at the Signal Iduna Park with Jorge Sampaoli in charge after the club sacked Julen Lopetegui after last weeks loss to BVB at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán
The Argentine returns to the club he left in 2017 in order to take charge of his national team and one of his first tasks will be to negotiate a tough trip to Germany to take on Borussia Dortmund. He returned to the dugout on Saturday to oversee a 1-1 draw against Atletico Bilbao.
Tuesday’s defeat was the last straw for Lopetegui with goals from Rafael Guerreiro, Jude Bellingham, Karim Adeyemi and Julian Brandt seeing BVB to a 4-1 win with Youssef En-Nesyri scoring a consolation.
The Schwarzgelben had a dramatic end to the Klassiker on Saturday with a last-second equaliser from Anthony Modeste securing a 2-2 draw. With little time to recover the Dortmund fans face another big game on Tuesday.
Player to watch:
With Oliver Torres not registered to play in the Champions League, Sevilla will look to Isco to provide the creative spark. The former Real Madrid star has a lot to prove after leaving the Bernabeu and although he officially has five Champions League winners medals, this could be the stage to do it.
Celtic v RB Leipzig
Leipzig made relatively light work of Celtic last Wednesday at the Red Bull Arena but will face a tougher task this week when you factor in the raucous Parkhead crowd that acts as the 12th man for the Hoops.
Goals from Christopher Nkunku and an Andre Silva double in the second half led Marco Rose’s side to a 3-1 win with Jota scoring an equaliser at the start on the second half. It was a first group F win for die Roten Bullen and puts them a point behind Shakhtar Donetsk but was marred by the serious knee injury suffered by goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.
Leipzig were held to a 1-1 by Mainz at the weekend, whereas Celtic beat St. Johnstone 2-1 with a 94th minute winner from Greek striker Giorgos Giakoumakis grabbing the victory at the death.
Coach Ange Postecoglu was far from happy with his sides’ performance in the first game. “We got a good goal and after we scored we kind of went into our shells a bit in terms of our possession. We got a bit negative with our passing, started passing it back too often. It was a really disappointing second goal we conceded and that changed the course of the game.”
Expect a more positive approach on Tuesday.
Player to watch:
It’s hard to look past Jota as his goal in the first game showed, but Kyogo Furuhashi provided the assist and Leipzig will be fully aware of the threat he poses having seen first hand the talent of the Japanese forward.
Wednesday 12th October
Viktoria Plzeň v Bayern Munich
Bayern cruised to their expected win last week at the Allianz and nothing less will be expected as they make the short trip to the Czech Republic to take on Plzeň for the second time in the group.
The Doosan Arena is less than 300km from Munich, and the tight 11,700 capacity stadium will be afar cry from the usual Champions League venue Bayern are used to and they will be fully aware that Inter ‘only’ won 2-0 there on matchday 2.
Julian Nagelsmann’s side have really put all talk of crisis behind them with their recent displays although there will be a lot of disappointment that they allowed Borussia Dortmund to equalise deep into injury time at the end of Saturday’s Klassiker. There will be a little rotation again from the Bayern coach, but anything but another win is unimaginable.
The minnows continue to top the Gambrinus League by four points from Slavia Prague and enjoyed a 2-0 win over Mlada Boleslav at the weekend in preparation for the visit of Bayern Munich.
Player to watch:
The game at the Allianz Arena last week saw Senegalese midfielder Modou N’Diaye and although compatriot Sadio Mané should be the happier of the two after Wednesday’s match, he could be one to watch.
Bayer Leverkusen v Porto
After his winning start to life as Bayer Leverkusen coach, Xabi Alonso faces his first Champions League test this week, and the question is whether the inexperienced Spaniard will be up to the task and whether his team can up their game in Europe as they did at the weekend.
Saturday’s 4-0 win over Schalke will have boosted morale, but the memory of last week’s tame 2-0 loss in Portugal to Porto will also be fresh. That defeat cost Gerardo Seoane his job and Leverkusen sit on three points in group B as do Porto and Atletico Madrid, so Wednesday’s match is important in terms of who finishes in the top two, Brugge have surprisingly won all three of their matches.
Following on from the win in the Estadio do Dragao last week, Sergio Conceicao’s side had a 2-0 away at Portimonense on Saturday to stay second three points behind leaders Benfica. Porto won’t have to deal with Leverkusen’s Man of the Match from the weekend with Jeremie Frimpong banned for his sending off last week in Portugal.
Player to watch:
We cited Iranian striker Mehdi Taremi last time and although he didn’t score (thanks to VAR), he did provide both assists and once again will need close attention. He frustrates many with his theatrics, but he often makes up for it with goals.
Tottenham v Eintracht Frankfurt
As far a goalless draws go, last week’s stalemate at the Deutsche Bank Park was an entertaining match although both trainers would have left believing there was more than a point in the match for them. Ansgar Knauff had a great chance just after the break, while Spurs created enough chances to have won the game.
The return in London therefore takes on added importance with three points for either side giving them a big advantage in group D as they both currently sit on four points, Marseille on three and leaders Sporting on six.
Eintracht suffered a shock defeat at the weekend to bottom side VfL Bochum and will need to get their Champions League face on for Wednesday’s encounter. Tottenham on the other hand managed a narrow 1-0 away win at Brighton to go some way to make up for their previous derby loss to Arsenal. The Harry Kane/ Son Heung Min partnership was in effect for the goal, so the Adler have been pre-warned.
Player to watch:
Take your pick for who needs watching more Kane or Son. The Eintracht back three will have their work cut out stopping these two combining at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. This season Harry Kane has scored eight in the Premier League and Son has three. Neither has scored in the Champions League…yet.
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