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UEFA Champions League matchday 3 preview

The UEFA Champions League is back for matchday 3. Europe’s premier club competition resumes after a 19-day break, with early kickoffs in Ukraine and Spain. It promises to be an exciting night of football, as Europe’s best battle each other for pride and points.

UEFA Champions League

 

Match 1, 17:55: Shakhtar Donetsk vs Dinamo Zagreb

Matchday 3 in Group C will provide the first insight as to who will finish as the group’s runner-ups. Shakhtar Donetsk and Dinamo Zagreb both lost to Manchester City in their respective matches, but they also defeated.

The Ukrainians have lost once and won once in this season’s group stages. Their loss to Manchester City seemed inevitable, but Shakhtar recorded a last-minute victory in Atalanta on Matchday 2, meaning the Ukrainians are still very much alive in the group.

Dinamo find themselves in a similar situation to Shakhtar. The Croatians thrashed Atalanta 4-0,  while also losing to a strong Manchester City side. The Croats are now level with the Ukrainians on points, although the Croatians are ahead on goal differential. Should they look to extend their lead in second place, the visitors will need to record a victory on Matchday 3.

Match 2, 17:55: Atletico Madrid vs Bayer Leverkusen

Atletico Madrid will be looking to move onto seven points in Group D when they welcome Bayer Leverkusen to the Wanda Metropolitano in the Champions League on Tuesday night. Diego Simeone’s side are currently second in the section on four points, while Leverkusen are fourth having lost both of their group matches to Lokomotiv Moscow and Juventus.

Atleti have picked up 4 points from a possible 8, another win on Tuesday night would place the Spanish outfit in a strong position, but their form in recent weeks has not been convincing

Leverkusen, though, will enter the match off the back of a poor run of results. Indeed, Peter Bosz’s side are without a win in any competition since the end of September, losing two of their last three matches. Friday’s defeat at Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga was the second time that they had lost 3-0 in their last three matches having also been on the wrong end of the same scoreline when they travelled to Juve in the Champions League on October 1.

.Die Werkself have actually reached the last 16 or better in seven of their last eight Champions League campaigns, which is an indication of their standing in the competition. That said, the German side have only won two of their last 15 Champions League matches, which will be a concern ahead of this clash.

Match 3, 20:00: Club Brugge vs Paris Saint Germain

Club Brugge will be hoping for a repeat of their first-half performance against Madrid at the Bernabeu, where two goals from Nigerian striker, Emmanuel Bonaventure gave them a two-goal lead. With the Belgian club yet to notch a win in Group A, securing draws against Galatasaray and Real Madrid

They face a PSG side with a 100% record in the Champions League this season, following up a 3-0 win over R, Madrid with a 1-0 win against Galatasaray. Brazilian star Neymar will miss the game due to a thigh injury, but the return of Kylian Mbappe will definitely fill the void left by Neymar’s absence.

 

Match 4, 20:00: Galatasaray vs  Real Madrid

Galatasaray are actually without a win in their last seven Champions League matches, which is not a run of form that will fill their fans with too much confidence ahead of Tuesday’s affair. The Turkish outfit opened their Group A campaign with a goalless draw away to Club Brugge before losing 1-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain.

The back-to-back matches against Madrid will ultimately determine whether Fatih Terim’s side are capable of making an impression in this season’s competition, but they have lost each of their last five Champions League games against the Spanish giants, conceding 10 times in their last two defeats.

Madrid surrendered first spot in La Liga on Saturday with a 1-0 loss at Mallorca leaving them second behind Barcelona, although their form in the Champions League has been disappointing to say the least. A PSG side without the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani beat them 3-0 in their Group A opener on September 18, before Club Brugge claimed a point at the Bernabeu on October 1.

Zinedine Zidane’s side are far from in a terminal position, but the back-to-back games against Galatasaray are hugely important ahead of what is shaping up to be a huge home clash with PSG on November 26.

Match 5, 20:00: Tottenham Hotspur vs Crvena Zvezda ( Red Star Belgrade)

Tottenham Hotspur will be looking banish the memories of their matchday 2 mauling at the hands of the Bavarian giants, Bayern Munich when Red Star Belgrade visit the Tottenham Stadium on Tuesday night.

The North London side, runners-up in the Champions League last term, have taken just a solitary point from their first two games in Group B and know that anything other than victory in against Red Star would leave them facing a very difficult task, qualifying from the group

Red Star Belgrade arrive in London full of confidence following a six-match winning streak which has seen them score 21 goals.  Including a 3-1 victory over Olympiacos on matchday two which puts them second in Group B, Red Star are a side with a winning habit and capable of scoring goals, so they represent dangerous opposition for a Spurs team seemingly devoid of confidence at the moment.

Match 6, 20:00: Manchester City vs Atalanta

Guardiola’s City are sitting pretty at the top of Group C with six points from an available six, while Atalanta are bottom having lost their first two matches to Dinamo Zagreb and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Defensive problems have plagued Man City, with Pep starting two midfielders in the heart of defence against Watford in the Premier League, but that shouldn’t be too much of an issue for a side that boasts the likes of Aguero, Sterling, Mahrez and a host of top attackers.

Despite their continued impressive league form, Atalanta have struggled among Europe’s elite, suffering a heavy 4-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb, before losing  2-1 at home to Shakhtar earlier this month. The Serie A outfit now face back-to-back games against City, which is hardly ideal as they look to put some Champions League points on the board.

What’s more, Atalanta have only lost three of their last 16 European matches, recording seven wins in the process. The Italian side will also have fond memories of their last trip to England having thumped Everton 5-1 in the group stages of the 2017-18 Europa League.

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Match 7, 20:00: Olympiacos vs Bayern Munich

Olympiacos are currently third in Group B with just one point from their opening two matches, while Niko Kovac’s Bayern are sitting pretty in first with six points in the bag and 10 goals already scored in this competition.

The Greek club began the group stage well by rescuing a draw against Tottenham Hotspur, they were poor last time round, wasting a lead as they lost 3-1 to Red Star Belgrade.

Yassine Benzia is out due to suspension.  Olympiacos are likely to try and keep things tight, work a low block and look to counter in the second half with the pace of Daniel Podence and forwards Youssef El and Miguel Guerrero.

Although Bayern grabbed the headlines three weeks ago when they put seven past Tottenham, they have failed to win in their two subsequent Bundesliga games.

Perhaps more frustrating than the dropped points on Saturday was the injury suffered by German defender Niklas Sule, who ruptured his ACL in the match against Ausburg.

His absence is unlikely to alter the way Bayern set up or play, with Kovac as always emphasizing movement, passing and a system that creates several chances for Robert Lewandowski.

The star of their game with Tottenham was former Arsenal winger Serge Gnabry, who scored four, and the 24-year-old will be looking to add to his tally on Tuesday night from the left-hand side.

Match 8, 20:00: Juventus vs Lokomotiv Moscow

Juventus will be looking for their seventh straight win in all competitions when they welcome Russian outfit Lokomotiv Moscow to Turin in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

The Italian champions are currently top of Group D with four points from their two matches, while Lokomotiv are third with three points to show from their two European fixtures this term.

The Old Lady look well-placed to launch a challenge this term, though, and as mentioned, they are currently top of Group D with four points having drawn with Atletico Madrid and beaten Bayer Leverkusen thus far.

Juve have reached the round of 16 or better in 16 of their last 19 participations in the group stages of the Champions League, while they have won all three of their previous home games against Russian visitors – scoring nine times in the process and conceding just once.

Three points from two matches has left Lokomotiv in third position in Group D, just one point off Atletico and Juve heading into the next set of fixtures. They are certainly the underdogs for Tuesday’s affair, but an impressive 2-1 victory away to Leverkusen on September 18 will have handed them confidence.

Yuri Semin’s side will have to pull off some big results if they are to claim a top-two spot in the group, although the three-time Russian champions would certainly be one of the teams to watch in the Europa League if they were ultimately made to continue their European journey in that particular competition.

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