A short preview of all the games from Matchday 5.
Tuesday, 21 November
Steaua Bucharest v Dynamo Kyiv
Steaua beat Kyiv 4-1 in their last meeting, and are favouries to win this one as well and confirm 3rd spot and a UEFA Cup place. That’s about it, really.
Real Madrid v Lyon
A battle for lost pride, no matter what Capello says. History says this will be a draw, but it could well be that Real Madrid summon up something special to beat Lyon (and it will take something special). Someone will have to feed the ball to Nistelrooy though, and Diarra will have to stop Juninho.
Could be as big as the Barcelona-Chelsea game, minus the theatrics. Or it could be a damp squid, depending on which Madrid turn up.
Celtic v Manchester United
A United win will give them the group, A Celtic win will give them qualification as well (Benfica travel to United last, so not much luck for them there).
United won’t be full-strength for this game but they’re also in much better form than the last time these two teams met. Should be a fast, open game.
Benfica v FC Copenhagen
Benfica need to win to stand any chance of qualifying. Copenhagen need to win as well. Could very well be battle for third-spot, made possible only by United’s slip-up at Copehagen on the 1st.
CSKA Moscow v Porto
Close game, should be a fantastic advert for European football. A win puts CSKA through, even though they play Hamburg away in the last game. Porto will want at least a point from this game, because they host Arsenal in the last game and if they get 4 points out of their next two games, they’ll be through, regardless of how CSKA fare against Hamburg.
Arsenal v Hamburg
Arsenal need 4 points from the next two games. Should win easily, although Rosicky and Gallas are injured and van Persie is probably crocked as well. Arsenal haven’t exactly set the world alight with their goal-scoring this season, so Hamburg will fancy a chance of sneaking a point here and getting back some self-respect.
Lille v Anderlecht
Lille are front-runners for the second spot, Anderlecht are in with an outside chance if they win their next two games. Anderlecht’s next game is home to AEK, so a win here is a good chance for them to get to the second round. High-stakes game, but I don’t expect too many goals.
AEK Athens v AC Milan
Milan can still kick it in Europe, so they should win (or at least get a point). Athens can get through to the second round, but to make that happen they have to get a point or 3 here first.
Wednesday, 22 November
Werder Bremen v Chelsea
If Chelsea somehow contrive to lose this game, they will be accused of throwing it in order to help knock out Barcelona from the Champions League. Having said that, I don’t think Chelsea would do that, but they have Manchester United on the weekend and there are bound to be one or two key players rested ahead of that clash. Against Bremen, they shouldn’t be too worried, because they can still top the group by beating Levski Sofia at home on 5th December.
Bremen need to win to stand a chance at qualification. But a win here might not be enough, as they’ll need to beat Barca in 2 weeks time as well (unless the unlikely happens and Levski Sofia and Bremen both win tomorrow night).
Levski Sofia v Barcelona
Barcelona need to win, pure and simple. With Eto’o and Messi injured, they’ll be looking towards Gudjohnsen to help them out. Barcelona know the importance of the game and are not likely to screw this one up.
Spartak Moscow v Bayern Munich
Bayern beat Spartak 4-0 at home in September, and while things might have changed, the stakes mean that Bayern are through without even needing to win their last two matches.
Inter Milan v Sporting Lisbon
The biggest match of Inter’s Champions League so far – they need to win to progress, otherwise they’ll be left with a cliffhanger two weeks from now, with Sporting home to Spartak Moscow and Inter going to Munich. A draw isn’t enough either, because that still leaves them doing something extra-ordinary at Munich.
Sporting beat Inter in the first group game, but they’ve faltered since then. They did manage to get a draw away to Bayern, so if they come away with a draw here they’ll fancy their chances of qualification.
Bordeaux v Galatasaray
Winner has a fantastic shot at a UEFA Cup place, because both Liverpool and PSV have qualified. Bordeaux are away to PSV next while Galatasaray are home to Liverpool, so it’s more of a must-win for Bordeaux than Galatasaray. Should be an interesting match, even if it’s so low-profile that no one will be arsed to follow it.
Liverpool v PSV Eindhoven
Winner takes the group, as far as I’m concerned. Could be a bore draw, like they played out in the first game of the group. Liverpool have only the cups to play for this season, plus they’ll be trying to use this as a springboard for better Premiership form. Should be a mini-classic if both teams go gung-ho, relieved from the pressure of having to win a game.
Valencia v Olympiakos
Valencia’s season has derailed in recent weeks, but they should beat Olympiakos at home. They’ve qualified, but considering that they play the last game away to Roma, they would want to win this one to try and ensure a top-place finish (which Roma could still take away with two big wins).
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma
Must win for Roma to stand a chance at getting first spot. A point should be enough to see them qualify though. Have been in good form in Serie A recently, so that will help.