Champions League Picks Week 2

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The UCL Corner at the Bakery

Welcome back! The first week of Champions League fixtures produced some exciting drama to kick off the highest competition in Europe. Round two of group play fixtures is upon us, and like last time, Dustin and I will give our take on who we see coming away victorious in week 2.

 

Tuesday Games

Monaco vs. Bayer Leverkusen

DP: Leverkusen 3-1: It’s not that Monaco is at a huge disadvantage to the German side, but there are other components to consider. 1) A newly minted UCL team in Tottenham was probably the victim of an unrepresentative win by Monaco. Basically, I think that Spurs made Monaco look better than they are. 2) Leverkusen are rolling. Chicharito’s recent form, including a hat-trick in his most recent league game, which could spell trouble for the French.

BD: Leverkusen 2-1: After a convincing victory at Wembley, Monaco now must prove they belong by defeating a tough Leverkusen side which surrendered a two goal advantage to Moscow in Week 1. I expect Chicharito and company to come away with three points, but not before Monaco speedster Bernardo Silva nets a goal.

 

CSKA Moscow vs. Tottenham

DP: Draw 1-1: The teams here stack up relatively well. Spurs made it clear last game that they will not be welcomed into UCL with open arms, but they are still due for a competitive run given their depth. That said, the loss of Harry Kane means that they have fewer options in terms of rotation and as they keep their eye on the EPL table they may choose to suffer with a second hand team in UCL before tiring out their first tier players. Draw.

BD: Tottenham 2-1: It seems I underestimated the quality of the the other Group E teams. Moscow showed their grit in grabbing a point versus Leverkusen;  Tottenham displayed their inexperience in front of 80,000 Spurs fans. A second loss in the group could be downright backbreaking. Vincent Janssen must fill major shoes after Harry Kane’s injury.  It appears Tottenham will field a mostly B squad with five front line players being held out due to injury. I hope to see Jeung-Min Son continue his prolific run of play thus far to continue in Russia.

 

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid

DP: Draw 2-2: In what could easily be the best UCL game of the week, Dortmund will face off against  the reigning champs. In any normal scenario I would put my faith in Madrid to win; however, the recent loss of Casemiro at CDM will pose a huge problem against Dortmund’s speedy attack. Also, with Madrid’s rotation of their front line recently, it’s hard to say who we’ll see. I don’t see Real being overrun by Dortmund and I expect each team to save a point here.

BD: Borussia Dortmund 3-2: Ronaldo and Morata’s late heroics were so very Madridian. Dortmund on the other hand suffocated Legia for 90 minutes in a 6-0 drubbing that was never supposed to be close. I want to see both team’s offensive firepower on full display. But in the end I think Dortmund will be the Aguamenti to Madrid’s Incendio.

 

Sporting Lisbon vs. Legia Warsaw

DP: Sporting Lisbon 2-o: Easy call. Lisbon won’t rack up the score here, but Warsaw isn’t even in the same realm as Lisbon and will most likely be going home having suffered a shutout.

BD: Sporting Lisbon 3-0: Sporting did everything they could against Madrid, but unfortunately games are 90 minutes long, not 89. They paid the ultimate price against the world’s best. Thankfully they now get to lick their wounds and face a decidedly less quality side in Legia. Sporting should have no problem disposing of Polish club.

 

FC Copenhagen vs. Club Brugge

DP: Copenhagen: 1-0. Bore-fest. Mark it. Brugge could quite easily be considered one of the worst teams in the tourney and Copenhagen may cause them a bit of trouble despite not being a huge force themselves. If it’s not a draw then it’s a win for the Danish side.

BD: Copenhagen 2-0: There are few positives to take away from Brugge’s week 1 result. They were thoroughly dismantled by Leicester, 3-0. While Copenhagen played a man down for almost a third of the game and took a hard earned point from a much better Porto team. I see Copenhagen’s star shining even brighter with a victory at home.

 

Leicester City vs. FC Porto

DP: Porto 2-1: After a shade of jabber at Brooks earlier in the week, I’ve given way and granted Leicester a single goal on Porto. Mostly I just want Porto to be good, but Casillas is still the best to ever do it and I have faith. Plus, Leicester has been on a 2 game skid against Man U and Chelsea giving me no faith in their abilities against a team that can break their back line.

BD: Leicester 2-1: On paper this is one of the best games of the week. Leicester proved many of their doubters wrong with a resounding victory in their UCL debut, but now they face a Porto side disappointed with a draw against Copenhagen. I expect a low scoring affair with Leicester content to concede possession before crushing Porto’s soul with a Mahrez, Slimani, or Vardy-shaped death blow.

 

Dinamo Zagreb vs. Juventus

DP: Juventus 4-0: No question. Juventus is ready to get their season (both foreign and domestic) revved up and there’s not better fodder than Zagreb. Juve has all the tools to make things happen including Dybala and Higuain, and if both fire, then this could be an early dusting.

BD: Juventus 3-1: This is an easy one. Juventus was easily the disappointment of week 1 following a 0-0 snoozer versus Sevilla. The Italian giants will awake this week and unfortunately their victim will be Zagreb. Poor, poor Zagreb.

 

Sevilla FC vs. Lyon

DP: Draw 2-2: Another good matchup. Sevilla was lacking last game, but we know they’re capable. Lyon’s Lacazette is still rolling so I’d expect that Lyon will be able to find the net at least a couple times. Together I think this is a perfect storm for a tie between the 2.

BD: Lyon 2-0: Sevilla deserves credit for holding Juventus side to a goalless draw. That said their anemic offense could only attempt three shots all game and I expect that lack of firepower to continue this week despite playing at home. Lyon moves to top of the group with 6 points.

Wednesday Games

Arsenal vs. FC Basel

DP: Arsenal 2-0: Arsenal has really found their stride recently and has a slew of easier very winnable matches in the EPL, which means that they clearly have the upper hand in this match. And because I have faith in David Ospina’s sister, I’m putting my money on his genes to bring us home a clean sheet. This game could easily go the opposite way, but Arsenal’s current form gives them the advantage.

BD: Arsenal 2-1: Basel has yet to drop a point in the Swiss Super League scoring 29 goals in 9 games, but could only manage one in a draw versus Ludogorets in week 1. I anticipate Arsenal’s current hot streak to over power the Swiss side at Emirates Stadium.

 

Ludogorets vs. PSG

DP: PSG 4-1: No chance that PSG don’t unleash that pent up UCL aggression after a very ho-hum tie against Arsenal a couple of weeks ago. Once they get going, PSG is going to score at a Bayern-esque pace and this could very well be the game that it happens. Ludogorets literally has no chance to win this game.

BD: PSG 2-0: Cavani got a goal 42 seconds into the game versus Arsenal in a frustrating draw after leading for nearly 75 minutes in week 1. I anticipate a sure victory for PSG in this one with Ludogorets unable to build on the point they grabbed at St Jakob-Park.

 

Besiktas vs. Dynamo Kiev

DP: Draw 2-2: Both teams are willing and able, but I wouldn’t expect any degree of extreme competition here. I think lacking defenses will be the root of this 2-2 draw, but I don’t see a situation that would make this a rousing match.

BD: Besiktas 3-1: The Turks dragged a point away from Benfica in the third 3rd minute of stoppage on the foot of Anderson Talisca. Kiev looked strong early verus Napoli, but fell apart in the second half. Besiktas should have no problem breaking down the Ukrainian defense.

 

Napoli vs. Benfica

DP: Napoli 3-1: Big advocate for Napoli here. They made major moves in the transfer window and they’re undefeated in the past 7 games. Benfica doesn’t look the same as the did last year and Milik et al have been having their way with the field recently. All spells bad luck for Benfica.

BD: Draw 2-2: One of the more exciting games of the week as each team vies for top spot in Group B. But will end in a hard fought draw in Stadio San Paolo.

 

Borussia Monchengladbach vs. Barcelona

DP: Barcelona 5-1: My thoughts on Monchengladbach remain largely the same as the first round. With their midfield general Granit Xhaka absent, it’ll be an easy last two-thirds for Barca to carve up. Messi will be missed but Suarez is once again in form and w/ Arda Turan firing this will be yet another stomping on behalf of the Spanish juggernauts.

BD: Barcelona 3-1: No Messi could initially appear to be a problem for Barcelona, but their fire power will be too much for Gladbach whether it comes from Neymar, Suarez, or Rakitic.

 

Celtic vs. Man City

DP: Man City 4-1: Sergio Aguero is back and has taken no time to test the waters. What’s most threatening about City is that their team is interchangeable and they’ve proven that even their second line is just as powerful as any top team. Sorry Celtic. Best bet is to park the bus for 90+ long minutes.

BD: Man City 6-0: Two words. Blood bath. Celtic showed no signs of life against Barca and I expect more of the same this week. 

 

Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich

DP: Bayern 3-1: Along with Madrid v. Dortmund, I expect this to be the most riveting game of round 2. This is a perfect match in terms of Offense v. Defense and vice versa. What’s better is that this matchup has the potential to become a great rivalry due to the character of each side. This is going to be a hard fought match regardless of the outcome, but I think that Bayern has the edge by a nose given their pace and attacking prowess.

BD: Atletico Madrid 3-2: This is the game of the week in my opinion. It depends on which team enforces their style of play onto the pitch first, Bayern’s smothering offensive swarm, or Atletico’s park the bus and wait mentality. The Lewandowski v. Greizmann match up has me salivating for a goal party. I’m going out on a limb to sat Atletico pulls off the upset.

 

Rostov vs. PSV

DP: PSV 2-0: Not that I’m swayed tremendously by either side, but PSV should take this in hand. It won’t be eventful, but it’ll be something.

BD: PSV 3-1: Rostov looks decidedlu undeserving to be in this field of teams, though it’s only been 1 game. PSV wins easily.

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