UCL Corner: Week 3 Picks

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Welcome back to Round 3 of Champions League predictions at the Bakery. Week 3 marks the final slew of fresh matchups amongst the teams in group play. This week is not only the half way point of the group stage, but it also marks make or break point for teams hoping to move on to the knockouts. Win, loss, or draw – fortunes will be decided in the next two days. Here we go!

Tuesday Games

Leicester v Copenhagen

DP: Leicester 2 – 1: This is a surprisingly intriguing storyline especially considering Leicester’s strong debut in the UCL thus far. Though, with a draw and a win, which featured 4 goals against Club Brugge, it looks like Copenhagen may be a formidable opponent. I give LC the upper hand here due to their apparent dedication to the UCL championship as they let their EPL performances slip.

BD: Draw 1-1: Two clean sheets in two games is everything Leicester could hope for to start their UCL debut. In game three they meet Copenhagen who has been the surprise of Group G with 4 points. I see the Danish side being the first to break through against Kasper Schmeichel and grabbing a draw at Leicester City.

 

CSKA Moscow v Monaco

DP: Monaco 3-1 : No question here that Monaco is the more dominant team. They’ve managed to stay in the race for the Ligue 1 title as they sit just in 3rd place (behind Mario Balotelli’s Nice no less) and they’ve certainly shown mettle through the first 2 rounds of UCL, so they’ve got my backing to knock Moscow right out of this running for the trophy this year.

BD: Monaco 2-1: Monaco sits atop Group E while Moscow are desperate for a victory after drawing and losing in their first two games. I give the slight edge to Monaco in this one despite Moscow’s home advantage.

 

Real Madrid v Legia Warsaw

DP: Real Madrid 3-1: This is another game to watch, as it’s played under special circumstances. Because Warsaw fans couldn’t help but to act like prepubescent cunts during their last outing, the game will be played behind closed doors at the empty Army Stadium. Amidst injury woes, Madrid may have found a match against any other opponent more difficult; however, I think their second line of players will dispatch Warsaw with ease.

BD: Real Madrid 4-0: Madrid has caught a major injury bug of late, but that won’t save Legia who are decidedly the worst team in the Group F with a putrid -8 goal differential. Real’s youth squad would probably rout these poor Polish bastards. Madrid in a walk.

 

Lyon v Juventus

DP: Juventus 2-1: Perhaps I’ve touched on this before, but Juventus might well be the favorites to win the entire tournament. They’ve put up a string of good performances and I don’t quite think that Lyon have the firepower to keep up.

BD: Juventus 3-1: Group H is shaping up to be a three team horse race between the teams not named Dinamo Zagreb. Juventus are still clear favorites to finish top of the group, but Lyon have been feisty and that competitive atmosphere will continue here, though I see Juventus getting three points in France.

 

Sporting Lisbon v Borussia Dortmund

DP: Dortmund 3-0: After their performance against Real Madrid, Dortmund have shown that they have what it takes to perform at a very high level. Aubameyang has been on a scouring run of goals and assists and I think his speed is too much for Lisbon. With a few timely crosses from our American peach Pulisic I think the red and black will be in business against the Portugeuse.

BD: Dortmund 3-2: Borussia Dortmund can do themselves a favor by putting three more points between them and third place Sporting with a win this week. I am slightly biased here as Christian Pulisic’s play thus far has been nothing short of mesmerizing with a goal and two assists across all competitions for the 18 year old. Lisbon will be sporting a few cuts and abrasions after this slugfest.

 

Bayer Leverkusen v Tottenham

DP: Leverkusen 2-1: Tottenham have finally hit a point in their season where the UCL games are adding up and they’re beginning to appear slower on the EPL side (despite remaining undefeated), so I’ve got a feeling that Leverkusen could pull this one out; however, this game comes down to how cohesive the Tottenham back line can be against the strong attack of the Germans.

BD: Draw 2-2: Tottenham won an important victory in week 2 versus Moscow. They now face Leverkusen in consecutive Champions League fixtures. A draw in Germany will not surprise me, especially on short rest and the concerning injury to Toby Alderweireld, which will weaken our backline. Expect The Chosen Son to shine again this week.

 

Dinamo Zagreb v Sevilla

DP: Sevilla 2-0: Simple call. Sevilla has shown blips of incredible attacking prowess and Dinamo has done the opposite. I’ll be shocked if this game doesn’t go the way of 5-6 or goals, but I’m taking Sevilla with 2 due to their inconsistency in front of net

BD: Sevilla 3-0: Sevilla must win here to stay abreast of the other two powers at the top of Group H. Thankfully they have Dinamo Zagreb who have shown no life or interest in winning through two UCL games. Light work.

 

Club Brugge v Porto

DP: Porto 2-1: Brugge has solidified their place as a weakling in this tournament and while Porto hasn’t exactly shown tenacity, I do think that they have the overall experience to pull this game out.

BD: Porto 2-0: Porto can move to a second place tie with a victory and a Copenhagen loss. This team has not had the same bite as I thought they would thus far, but I still expect them to move forward into knockout despite only yielding just a point through two games.

Wednesday Games

Barcelona v Manchester City

DP: Barcelona 3-1: Wow wow wow is all I can say about this game. This is what they mean  when they talk about the big guns. Despite a pretty poor performance for Man City against Everton, I don’t expect Pep to roll over in front of his old home fans. With that said, I also don’t expect him to get a warm welcome. More like a luke-warm, if not slightly brisk, welcome back. Barcelona is regaining form with an impressive La Liga win a few days ago and will likely capitalize on the game being played on their home grounds.

BD: Barcelona 3-2: What can you say other than these two teams are really, really good. But both are not invincible. City showed their first signs of weakness in an explosive draw versus Celtic in Week 2, followed by a loss to Spurs (had to) in the Prem. Barcelona conceded their second loss in La Liga play to newly promoted Alaves and look only slightly less dominant than usual. This will be a heavyweight bout. Expect a goal-fest.

 

Dynamo Kyiv vs Benfica

DP:Benfica 2-1: Toss this game over in the category of uninteresting. I’d expect to see Benfica pull it out after a gritty match with a possible 3 goals being scored on uninspiring plays. It’s important for both teams to try to win this match as the group begins to level out.

BD: Benfica 2-0: Benfica is in dire need of a win, and what better time than now against Dynamo? A loss would almost certainly kill any hope of moving into the knockout. Without Renato Sanches they have looked toothless in their UCL games despite still being unbeaten in Primeira Liga. Despite my lack of confidence in their UCL performances thus far, I’ll go with Benfica.

 

Napoli v Besiktas

DP: Napoli 2-0: Big Napoli fan here. I like what’s going on with their program and their comradery. Besiktas isn’t showing much interest in staying in the tournament meanwhile the Italian club has been playing quite well in the competition. It’d be hard-pressed to suggest any other result aside from a Napoli win.

BD:Napoli 3-1: The Italian giants have been the class of their group thus far. I see a third victory in as many tries, which would give them a commanding lead in Group B. Besiktas stole a point in week 1 and settled for a second draw versus Dynamo Kyiv. Napoli’s fire power will be too much for Besiktas who has only managed 2 goals thus far.

 

PSG v FC Basel

DP: PSG 2-0: I hate to say that as I really need a PSG loss or tie to bolster the Gunner’s chances of escaping the group stage in first place, but I simply can’t fathom Basel giving the PSG back line any trouble. The French side have finally seen an attack form and their midfield is about as stout as one could hope. PSG 2-nil.

BD: PSG  3-1: Edinson Cavani has been playing out of his mind thus far with 12 goals in 9 matches in Ligue 1 and UCL matches. Expect more of the same as Basel has only managed to score a single goal in UCL competition. Cavani with the brace (TWINS, BASEL! TWINS!) to push PSG into first place in the group.

 

Arsenal v Ludogorets

DP: Arsenal 3-1: A true test for Arsenal as they come in riding a 6 W hot streak. The team is only getting healthier and the front four of Iwobi, Sanchez, Ozil, and Walcott have appeared elusive and hungry to score. I’d expect to see a Xhaka start given his recent red in the EPL, as he won’t see time for 2 games straight. Otherwise, expect a fast paced match where Ludo just won’t keep up.

BD: Arsenal 4-1: Arsenal have not dropped a point in their last 6 games and that trend does not appear to be changing anytime soon with a slate of games featuring less than stellar competition. Ludogorets may get one late, but this one won’t be close.

 

Celtic v Monchengladbach

DP: Celtic 2-0: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Gladbach have let the wind out of their sails since they reach the height of UCL qualification last season and they hardly look like they’re going to turn it on any time soon. Celtic has better youth, more speed and a bigger stake in the game given their ability to slay the giants when given the chance.

BD: Celtic 1-0: Celtic showed true grit in stealing a point in their 3-3 draw with City. Moussa Dembele is a serious talent who may get nabbed by an EPL in the winter transfer term. Yet, it is hard to ignore the fact that this game is essentially a fight to not finish last in Group C. The Celts beat the Gauls in a good ole fashioned Middle Ages-style death match.

 

FC Rostov v Atletico Madrid

DP: Atletico Madrid 3-0: The other Madrid side has really started to gel and put together a 7 goal outing during their last league match. Conversely, Rostov has looked worse than a chaffed dogs ass on a sandy dune throughout their tournament showings and Atletico may well put them to the sword. This is a good chance for Atletico to give rest to some of their usual 11, so I cap this game at 3 goals.

BD: Atletico Madrid 5-0: Atletico started slowly in La Liga, but since drawing their first two domestic fixtures, they’ve ripped off 20 goals in 6 games. Couple that tear with decisive victories against PSV and German giants Bayern Munich and you have a team that no one wants to play. Rostov will go out with a whimper here.

 

Bayern Munich v PSV Eindhoven

DP: Bayern 4-0: A no-brainer, Bayern appear to be one of the strongest in Europe right now and have seen major contributions from Ribery as of late. I think their pace and their midfield are not only going to overpower, but out maneuver Eindhoven with possession leaning greater than 65% in favor of Munich. Game, set, match.

BD: Bayern 3-0: Bayern will be fired up and pissed off after getting beaten to the punch by Atletico in Madrid last week. Expect Carlo Ancelloti’s side to be focused and out for blood. PSV don’t stand a chance in this one.

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