After spending a thrilling week wondering what was going to happen on the international break with teams qualifying for the World Cup, we're back to the thrilling action of the Champions League on Tuesday and Wednesday this week. There are some tremendous matches that are set to shape the way the rest of the world's biggest club soccer competition will play out, and these will surely be some of the most bet upon matches of the entire week.
The showcase is clearly in Group H. Tottenham and Real Madrid have had identical results in this group thus far, as both teams beat APOEL 3-0 and Borussia Dortmund 3-1. We know that these two are almost certainly going through to the knockout rounds of the competition at this point, but the difference between finishing first and second might be huge. The Spurs are traveling to Madrid in search of some respect, if nothing else, yet they're going to be huge underdogs against Los Blancos.
Tuesday night also features a big match for AS Monaco. The French side is reeling after getting crushed at home by Porto 3-0 in the last set of UCL matches, and the only cure is going to be a home win over Besiktas on Tuesday. If Monaco doesn't snare all three points, its chances of qualifying for the next round of competition are slim, especially if Porto can go on the road and take care of business against one of the newcomers of the competition, RB Leipzig.
Manchester City could effectively clinch a spot in the next round if it can run its spotless record in Group F to 3-0-0 with a match at home against Napoli. The English side has outscored Shakhtar Donetsk and Feyenoord by an aggregate score of 6-0 to date.
Both Sevilla and Liverpool figure to have easy victories against Spartak Moscow and Maribor respectively on Tuesday, though it should be noted that the Reds drew against Spartak Moscow on the road in the last set of matches to leave the two teams on level terms a third of the way through the group stage.
Wednesday is certainly an opportunity for the rich to get richer.
Chelsea already has six points in its first two matches. If it can pick up three more against Roma, it will be five points clear of the field with a match left to play against Qarabag in November. Needless to say, securing those three points probably assures the Blues will be in the next stage of the competition out of Group C.
The same could be said for Barcelona in Group D. The Catalan side should have no problem putting away an Olympiacos team that has yet to secure a single point. That would put Barca on nine points through three matches and leave it either five or six points clear of safety depending upon the results of the Sporting CP/Juventus match in Turin running concurrently.
Group B figures to see some massive separation on Wednesday. PSG has already crushed its first two foes 8-0, and Anderlecht figures to not put up much of a fight on Wednesday night, even on Belgian soil. If there is a winner of the Bayern Munich/Celtic match, that team will have a big leg up on the second spot in the table in this foursome.
Benfica had to feel pretty good about its chances of surviving Group A this year in the UCL. That said, the Portuguese side probably only has one last chance to keep its European season alive. Without a point in two matches, Benfica hosts table-topper, Manchester United in the biggest fixture of its season. If Benfica can't get at least a result out of this, it could be booted out of European soccer entirely. FC Basel and CSKA Moscow play against each other in Moscow on Wednesday as well, and the winner of that one will be second-best to Man U when the week is said and done with.
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