TODAY INFO 22.10.13
Steaua Bucharest Vs Basel
They go on winning their domestic matches, but so far Steaua have failed in Europe. They had no chance against Chelsea in their last group game, but in all fairness, they were probably better than Schalke for an hour or so, but then they were punished by three fast Schalke goals. Basel, looking almost 100 % fit, won at home to St Gallen at the week end, their goals scored by F Frei, M Streller and Xhaka. Strong players like Salah, the two Degens and Elneny were placed on the bench. Sio was suspended, but he should return for this match. Which league is the best? The Romanian or the Swiss? Motivated question as both teams are topping their respective leagues. I would say the Swiss.
Schalke 04 Vs Chelsea
Surprisingly good price on the away win. Surely Chelsea are the stronger side and playing away from home is not that big a disadvantage for the many Chelsea stars. A Cole and Schurrle, missing at the week end, trained with the Chelsea squad today Monday and they could be involved tomorrow. Schalke miss their two aces Farfan and Huntelaar as well as M Hoeger and J Jones.. They count on Prince Boateng to return for this game. He was rested at the week end. In my world the away win has to be backed.
Arsenal Vs Borussia Dortmund
I do not have to speculate about the future. Which team will be strongest of these two and so on. For now I find it impossible to go against my Arsenal. There is a feel good factor at the Emirates at the moment, their team are playing some awesome, offensive football and there is nothing stopping them. In fact Arsenal remind me of Borussia Dortmund last season. T Walcott and Flamini will not be involved in this game. Borussia had players back at the week end and they only miss S Kehl, Gundogan and Piszczek. They were runners up in Europe last season and it is correct to say, they have not reached the same heights so far. I have no intention of ruling out success for Borussia also this season, but they will have to recover their best form to have any chance in this fixture. I am backing Arsenal again. Goals? Yes, it looks like an over game.
Marseille Vs Napoli
Third loss on the bounce for Marseille at the week end. This time, at Nice, they were stopped by a sensational perfomance by the Nice keeper Ospina. Marseille totally dominated the game with some fifteen corners to the Nice two, and so on, but Ospina played the game of his life. Losing to PSG and Arsenal? They faced superior teams and the obvious question comes to my mind, are also Napoli superior to Marseille? Something with Napoli. I have problems trusting them away from home. They never should have lost to Roma last week, missing a couple of sitters when the score line was still 0-0. Anyway Napoli were as good as Roma despite their 0-2 loss. Higuain only featured as a substitute, but I can see him starting tomorrow. Britos and Zuniga are on their injury list. Defence man L Mendes is ruled out for Marseille. Tricky game for this writer and I chicken out, backing the draw.
Fc Porto Vs Zenit St Petersburg
My sponataneous reaction was, the away win is hugely overpriced. Or maybe not, Zenit have a habit of constantly disappointing in Europe. They have a great squad, but while they are scoring freely in the Russian league, they always have offensive problems in the Ch. League. Kershakov was placed on the bench at the week end. He is certainly not one of my favourites never hitting the target when I am watching him. Hulk has improved this season and he is beginning to look like the player he was at his previous club, Porto of course. He played for the club for four years and it is still the club in his heart. Zenit will be without the suspended A Witsel, who was red carded at home to A Vienna. (0-0) Porto won a domestic cup game at the week end using a make shift side. Players like Jackson, Lucho Gonzalez and Mangala were rested. They will of course return for this game, Helton and Otamendi as well. Hulk back agaist his fomer club? I am sure it will be a special moment for him and everyone concerned, but how will it affect the outcome? I know, I just have to back the big price in this match.
Austria Vienna Vs Atletico Madrid
Not really impressing in the Austrian league with 4-4-4- this far Austria picked up their first Champions League point away to ten man Zenit in their last group game. (0-0) Before that they lost to Porto 0-1, they were probably a bit unlucky, but fact remains, they have yet to score a goal in Europe this season. Atletico lost their first game of the season, at Espanyol at the week end. Squad wise they looked very much OK, but they were outwitted by Aguirre’s Espanyol. Diego Costa will play his first game In Europe for Atletico tomorrow. Expect a compact, defensive home team happy to keep the 0-0 result as long as possible. I cannot see Atletico losing this match, but the odds on the away win are a joke. I guess I have to back the draw.
Celtic Vs Ajax
Looks like a must win game for pointless Celtic. They have to manage without their suspended skipper S Brown and the injured trio A Matthews, D Boerrigter and Moyoukolo. Both M Lustig and K Commons also risk missing this game, J Forrest, T Rogic and J Ledley are back in training and they will be available tomorrow. Ajax were down 0-1 at Twente at the week end, but they came back to draw the match. Quite possible that Ajax are a better footballing side than Celtic, but do they have the right mentality for games on the big scene? This I doubt and while the Dutch belong to the definite top elite in Europe and in the world their clubs are dominated by young talents and players on the verge of making their break throughs. Ajax will be without both Bojan and Duarte tomorrow, but N Moisander will be available again. The Celtic experience will probably be decisive this time. Celtic to win.
Ac Milan Vs Barcelona
Injury plagued Milan will probably be without both Balotelli and their first choice keeper Abbiati. Amelia will stand between their sticks tomorrow. I say probably about Balotelli, because all of a sudden the Milan coach Allegri says that Balotelli could be fit to play some part in this game. Mexes and De Jong will be available again. What can I say? I do not think much of Milan at the moment, I even thought they would lose to Udinese at the week end. They defeated Udinese 1-0, but should Barcelona offer a 100% commited performance tomorrow Milan are sure to lose this match. Barcelona are in a class of their own in this rather weak group, including Milan, Ajax and Celtic. They know it, the other teams know it, but I would not trust Barcelona to necessarily win all their away fixtures. C Puyol made his come back a the week end, Messi started on the bench and D Alves, Pique and Alexis Sanches were rested when Barcelona only managed a 0-0 draw at Osasuna. Showing the right attitude Barca will be the winners, but they are facing R Madrid in a few days and they may not be at their very best tomorrow.
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