It’s the penultimate matchday in the Champions League group stage and it is all to play for some, while others have already sealed their passage to the next stage. With potentially vital points on offer, the five Bundesliga sides are in action this week. Here we preview all the midweek action.
Tuesday 25th October
RB Leipzig v Real Madrid
In terms of glamour opponents, these are the night you dream of as a Leipzig fan, but the prospect of taking all three points against the reigning European champions is a tough one. Die Roten Bullen are locked into a two-way battle with Shakhtar Donetsk to finish as runners-up to the Spanish giants and with the Ukrainians with an easier run-in on paper, a positive result on Tuesday might be required.
Marco Rose’s side gave a good account of themselves in the Bernabeu before succumbing to two late goals from Federico Valverde and Marco Asensio. At the weekend they stage a great comeback from 3-0 down at Augsburg, but then (no offence) they were 3-0 down to Augsburg! Real meanwhile top La Liga by three points ahead of Barcelona and enjoyed a 3-1 win over Sevilla at the weekend.
Player to watch: With the parade of riches that Real have, picking out one player to watch seems a pointless task, but with the ‘Denker und Lenker’ Luka Modric out of the game Carlo Ancelotti’s side will rely more upon Toni Kroos to orchestrate things.
Borussia Dortmund v Manchester City
The return of Erling Haaland to the Signal Iduna Park will be highly anticipated but many, but on the flipside a lot of BVB fans will not want to see him (and the goals he brings). The Schwarzgelben know full well his capabilities but this time around the Yellow Wall will be willing the ball out of the net. The corresponding fixture at the Etihad brought an excellent defensive display from Dortmund, but they were ultimately undone by their former favourite.
Dortmund are almost certain of progression sitting on seven points with two games left (Sevilla and Copenhagen both have just two), so the result on Tuesday isn’t a win-at-all-costs affair, but it would be nice to not have to travel to Copenhagen on matchday six with the pressure of needing a win.
Dortmund had a morae-boosting 5-0 win at the weekend after facing much criticism following their loss last week at Union Berlin. Haaland scored twice for the Citizens in their 3-1 win over Brighton taking his tally to a ridiculous 17 goals in just 11 appearances. BVB, you have been warned!
Player to watch: Who else? Erling Haaland to make a goalscoring return to the Signal Iduna Park seems a given. The question is how many will he score?
Wednesday 26th October
Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen
Leverkusen sit bottom of group B on just three points but are not mathematically out of contention to progress. It will be a tough ask, but the danger based on their current form is that they won’t even qualify for the Europa League and the European football they worked so hard to achieve will be over before the World Cup break.
A 2-2 draw with VfL Wolfsburg at the weekend saw a slight improvement in recent form, but nothing that will terrify the Spanish club as they host in Madrid on Wednesday. The impressive win at the Bay Arena in the reverse fixture seems a long time ago and the Werkself failed to build momentum from that.
Diego Simeone’s side are realistically in a two-way fight with Porto to finish as runners-up to surprise package Brugge and beat Betis 2-1 in La Liga on Sunday as way of a warm-up for Wednesday’s Champions League action.
Player to watch: Back from Barcelona on a permanent deal Antoine Griezmann has some making up to do for leaving Atletico in the first place and impressive displays to secure Champions League progression will be a start. With the World Cup coming up in a few weeks he also has the French national team coach to impress.
Barcelona v Bayern Munich
Group C was originally dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ when it was drawn, but the fact that Bayern have already qualified before even playing their final two fixtures against Barcelona and Inter shows Bayern’s quality (or perhaps the weakness of the so-called superpowers of Italy and Spain).
It is hard to imagine Bayern ‘taking it easy’ in the Nou Camp against a Barca side desperate to finish second and it is also hard to imagine that Robert Lewandowski will have as quiet a game as he had at the Allianz Arena on his return.
The Pole has scored twelve goals in ten La Liga appearances and five in four Champions League outings so hasn’t lost the scoring knack. Can Bayern keep him quiet again? The Blaugrana beat Bilbao 4-0 at the weekend, while Bayern also enjoyed a good win away at Hoffenheim with Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting stepping into the Lewandowski role with aplomb.
Player to watch: Surely Bayern are not going to be able to keep Robert Lewandowski off the scoresheet for a second time this season?
Eintracht Frankfurt v Marseille
Group D is still very open with two games still left to play and each team really does have their destiny in their own hands. It is clear that each team has the ability to take points off the others and Frankfurt will be aware that two good performances could see them progress despite currently propping up the group.
Beating Marseille at home this week is the first hurdle to overcome, but it is a hurdle they are more than capable of clearing having beaten the French side 1-0 at the Stade Velodrome on matchday 2 in the reverse fixture.
Jesper Lindstrom was the goal scorer that night and the Dane added two more at the weekend as the Adler achieved an impressive win at Borussia Mönchengladbach. Marseille are a little of the pace in Ligue 1 in fifth place and suffered a home defeat on Saturday to Lens.
Destiny is calling Frankfurt fans!
Player to watch: Moroccan Amine Harit has plenty of Bundesliga experience after bis time at Schalke and he could use that to help l’OM overcome their German opponents on Wednesday. He has one goal and two assists in the Champions League so far.