Londoners Chelsea are hosting one of the coolest teams in UEFA Champions League, Spartak Moscow – temperature cool, that is – and Spanish capital club Real Madrid are off to Italy to play AC Milan.
These two games are set to be packed with action as Moscow will be hoping for Aiden McGeady to take full advantage of the home game against the Blue reigning English champions. Over in Italy, Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his Galacticos do enough to see off the star-studded Milan.
Spartak Moscow vs Chelsea
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McGeady in top Champions League form
The former Celtic midfielder, Aiden McGeady has played his best Champions League game so far with the Moscow outfit when they faced the Blues two weeks ago. He was active on both flanks, whipping in eight crosses and teed up four shots. He has had only two shots on target in his 263 minutes played and both came against Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
To top McGeady’s performance off, he only misplaced two of the 40 passes he attempted, giving him the pass-completion ratio of 95%.
Moscow was unable to convert any of the nine shots on target at home (Chelsea put away two of their three) and Valery Karpin will be looking to McGeady to create chances for them.
Anelka hits his top form in 10 years
Frenchman Nicolas Anelka is enjoying his most prolific Champions League campaign in ten years. Back in 2000/2001, he netted five goals with his boyhood club Paris SG. Last time the two sides met, he unleashed four shots – the most on the night – and scored the second goal for Chelsea.
Anelka has managed to score in three consecutive Champions League game for the first time in his career. This season, only Samuel Eto’o has netter more goals (6) than him. He has been involved in 63% of Chelsea’s goals, scoring four and assisting one.
His four attempts in Moscow were all from open play and he tested the Moscow goalie, Andrey Dikan, twice.
If his prolific form continues at Stamford Bridge, Moscow is definitely going to be in a lot of trouble. In the three games he scored so far, nearly half of his shots have found the back of the net. Anelka has scored four goals in the 270 minutes he has played so far.
AC Milan vs Real Madrid
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Gattuso: The key to midfield domination
Gennaro Gattuso’s ability to dispossess his opponents and break up play will be vital if AC Milan are to overcome Real Madrid at the San Siro.
Vice-captain of the Rossoneri has only played 149 minutes of Champions League this season and he has won more tackles than the rest of the midfield combined (9 compared to Gattuso’s 14).
In the game at Bernabeu, Gattuso won four tackles in the 59 minutes on the pitch and that was the match-high. He was substituted in the second half as Milan sought to get back into the game.
With Madrid’s forward line perhaps one of the most lethal in the Champions League this season, Massimiliano Allegri will be relying on his midfield general to make key challenges in this match to overturn the result in their favor. Gattuso has managed more tackles per 90 minutes than any player in the competition this season – a whopping 8.46 per 90 minutes, the nearest is Arsenal’s Gael Clichy at 6.26 tackles.
C. Ronaldo returns to form?
As if he needs to get in form but the fact is, Cristiano Ronaldo’s performances have increased dramatically in the last few matches for Real Madrid.
Following a slow start to the season under boss Jose Mourinho during which he netted just two goals in seven appearances in La Liga and the Champions League, the Portuguese man’s form since the start of October has been electric, banging 11 goals and providing three assists in his last five games – averaging over two goal-involvements per match.
He made seven appearances prior to October playing 630 minutes, scoring two goals and shooting for goal a massive 45 times. He created 14 chances and made two assists with a pass-completion percentage of just under 81%.
Since the start of October, he has played 450 minutes (5 games), scored 11 goals in 32 shots on goal, making three assists and creating 11 chances. His pass-completion percentage also increased to a bit over 81%.
A deeper look into the stats reveal that he has seen his chance conversion rate rocket from a meager 4.4% to an impressive 34.4%.
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