Champions League football returns this week and as the group stages enter their halfway points things are starting to heat up nicely.
For the three British teams in action on Tuesday it’s difficult encounters with Dortmund, Ajax and Schalke respectively but all three managers will be hopeful of picking up a positive result.
Elsewhere, seven times winners AC Milan host Spanish giants Barcelona in what could be the tie of the round. A lot of that may depend on whether Lionel Messi starts but whatever happens it should be a great night of action.
Marseille V Napoli. 7:45PM. Sky Sports Red Button
Whilst Arsenal face the difficult prospect of hosting last year’s runners-up, the other match in Group F sees Napoli travel to the Stade Velodrome to face Marseille.
Despite losing to Arsenal on matchday 2, the Italians will be hopeful that they can still reach the knockout stages. Having already beaten Dortmund, they’ll feel that six points against Maresille would give them a great chance of progression. Two wins against the French outfit is certainly within their capabilities.
With the likes of Reina, Albiol, Hamsik and Higuain in their squad, Napoli certainly have the better calibre of player. Even away from home, they should be too much for a Marseille team that is certainly feeling the effects of being outmuscled by extreme-spenders PSG and Monaco.
Maresille have been well beaten in both of their opening fixtures and European elimination is almost already cemented. Following back-to-back domestic defeats, I think that run will continue here.
Napoli sit second in Serie A, which is where they finished last season, and should have enough class to beat their French counterparts. Depending on the result at the Emirates, it could put them in a strong position in their bid to reach the last 16.
Steau V FC Basel. 7:45PM. Sky Sports Red Button
In Group E, Chelsea make the difficult trip to Schalke in what should be a hotly contested encounter but in the group’s other game it could be a much more one sided affair as Swiss Champions Basel take on Steau Bucharest.
The Romanian side have done fantastically well to reach this stage of the competition but it is evident that they are not out of their depth. If the fact that they only scraped through the playoff against Legia Warsaw wasn’t enough to set the alarm bells ringing then the 3 and 4 nil defeats to Chelsea and Schalke most certainly have. Unfortunately for them, they are well and truly going to be the whipping boys of Group E and that isn’t going to change against Basel.
The Swiss side were lauded for their triumph at Stamford Bridge on matchday 1 but in truth they’ve been a solid outfit for some time now. Previous conquests have included eliminating Manchester United from the Champions League as well as beating Tottenham on route to the Europa League semi-final just last season. There is genuine pedigree in the squad and the victory in London was definitely no fluke.
Steau might be a little more optimistic about their chances in this one but, whilst I don’t think they’ll be humiliated, the Swiss Champions do still possess that extra quality and will be disappointed with anything less than a win.
The Romanians will be hoping for their first point tonight. In my opinion, come full-time, they’ll still be searching.