Monday, June 18, 2018
Champions League

UEFA Champions League – Two Match Preview (Round 2)

In this matchup, we take a look at four giants of European football. Firstly, German side Dortmund, who was somewhere between poor and unlucky in their last Champions League match with a loss to Spurs, take on Spanish side Real Madrid, the most successful team in European history who beat APOEL comfortably last time out. In the other game, Manchester City, who have been in sterling domestic form recently, also beating Feyenoord in their first game, who will host Shakhtar Donetsk, who whatever happens in their game against the English side will be satisfied with three points after a 2:1 win over Napoli.

Dortmund (Ger) vs. Real Madrid (Spa)

Three-Way: 1: Dortmund +200; X: +300 Draw; 2: Real Madrid +146

Spread 0: Dortmund +120; Real Madrid -122

Total +3.5: Over +104; Under -103


Dortmund has been beaten away from home at Tottenham in a game where a personal performance proved to be the difference. That being said, the one-time Champions League winners were unlucky, having had a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang goal wrongly ruled offside, dominated possession and their overall qualify as a team being clear to observe. Overall, it was Harry Kane of Tottenham who’s two goals cancelled out forward Yarmolenko’s equalizer and sink the Germans to their first defeat of the campaign.

Despite the European disappointment, Borussia Dortmund have had an excellent start to their league campaign, having won five of their six games and drawing the other, placing themselves in first position in the Bundesliga. Furthermore, they have conceded just one goal this domestic season, against Borussia M’gladbach in a 6:1 win in their last fixture. In those six games Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been in scintillating form, scoring eight goals.

Manager Peter Bosz will be missing winger Marco Reus (ruptured cruciate ligament), left-back’s Raphael Guerreiro (ankle)and Marcel Schmelzer (ankle), right-back Erik Durm (hip) and midfielder Sebastian Rode (bone stress).

Real Madrid

A solid start saw Real Madrid fulfil their expectations and dispatch APOEL with a 3:0 score-line. Ronaldo stuck first finishing from close-range and made it two with a penalty, then Sergio Ramos scored an acrobatic overhead kick to put the game far beyond doubt. The win put the 12-times Champions League winners top of Group H on goal difference and their fans will expect that it is a position they will maintain by the time that the last game is played. It should be noted that Ronaldo’s two goals took him ahead of long-term rival Lionel Messi in the most Champions League goals scored at home, a total of 55.

Although their Champions League start has so far been routine, their La Liga start has been far less rudimentary, having dropped points to Valencia, Levante and losing to Real Betis at home. Fifth place after six games is way below Real Madrid’s ambitions, and a loss in the Champions League could really damage the team’s confidence and season as a whole. Saying that, a team with the talent and experience that they possess would surprise soccer fansif they weren’t able to regain form.

Manager Zinedine Zidane will have a number of injuries, including midfielder Mateo Kovacic (patella), attacker Karim Benzema (hamstring) and defenders Jesus Vallejo, Theo Hernandez and Marcelo (muscle).

Dortmund (Ger) vs. Real Madrid (Spa) – Match Prediction:

This fixture is becoming somewhat routine after they were in the same Champions League group last season. Both fixtures last campaign resulted in 2:2 draws, and with Dortmund high-flying and Real Madrid faltering, although being the superior team overall, I would go for another draw between the two sides. Either way, it should be a fascinating fixture.

MY PICK: DRAW (+300)


Manchester City (Eng) vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr)

Three-Way: 1: Manchester City -345; X: +740 Draw; 2: Shakhtar Donetsk +1600

Spread -2: Manchester City -110; Shakhtar Donetsk +121

Total +3.5: Over -125; Under +119

Manchester City

A dominating performance in Feyenoord saw Manchester City come on top as 4:0 winners and take the three points. Centre-back John Stones opened the scoring with a header after just two minutes, and Sergio Aguero made it two in the tenth minute. City were cruising and were allowed further breathing room when Gabriel Jesus scored a third later in the first half, and Stones headed in again in the second half to complete the rout and their first away win in the Champions League in seven attempts.

The Citizens have been in thrilling league form, scoring sixteen goals in their last three games with three clean sheets, including a 5:0 win over Liverpool. This is in part due to Pep Guardiola finally willing to experiment with playing Gabriel Jesus and Aguero in the same team, and the results have been awesome. It should also be noted that Raheem’s Sterling’s form has really picked up after mixed form since joining from Liverpool two seasons ago. With their attacking force in such form, and City’s huge spending on their defense paying off, it’s hard to think of many sides that could stop this fast-moving train in its tracks.

Manager Pep Guardiola will have a full squad for this week’s game, other than Vincent Kompany who is out with a calf injury. 

Shakhtar Donetsk

The Ukrainian Champions took a significant step towards qualification to the next round with a 2:1 win over Napoli. Although it was Napoli who dominated the game, it was Shakhtar Donetsk who made their chances count, with Brazilian midfielder Taison opening the scoring with a finish into the bottom right corner and a Facundo Ferreyra header doubling their lead to settle their nerves. Napoli kept coming forward and managed a goal to half the lead, but it was nothing more than consolation for the Italians.

Three points against Napoli is huge, especially when considering that the Italian side are probably Shakhtar’s main rivals for the 2nd spot in their group. Their next opponents, Manchester City, are the team expected to top the group so the Ukranian side will be hard-pressed to get a result. Saying that, they might have a chance if they can bring their league form to England, having won seven of their last eight games domestically.

Manager Paulo Fonseca will be without defensive midfielder Maksym Malyshev after he recently underwent a knee-operation, but will otherwise have a full squad.

Manchester City (Eng) vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukr) – Match Prediction:

Shakhtar Donetsk is a decent side and definitely has the quality to reach the next round of the Champions League competition, especially after recording the win against Napoli. But we can’t beat around the bush here, this will be their toughest fixture against one of Europe’s toughest opponents, with scintillating form to their name too.

Don’t expect Manchester City to hold back and fully expect another big win.

MY PICK: Manchester City -2 AH (-110)

UEFA Champions League – Two Match Preview (Round 2)
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UEFA Champions League – Two Match Preview (Round 2)
Europe's top competition started earlier this month with some mouth-watering fixtures that lived up to its expectations and the big teams making their statement of intent with some big wins. Now with the second round of fixtures, we can expect some more top-quality football and possibly a shock or two, as if you've watched before, anything can happen on a Champions League night.
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