Match Day 3 in this season Champions’ League group stage sees Cristiano Ronaldo return to Old Trafford to face his former team Manchester United and his old boss Jose Mourinho in the battle for top spot in the group. The Group C fixture between PSG and Napoli will see Carlo Ancelotti return to Parc des Princes for the second season running but this time, it would be with another team (Napoli) and his last visit is one he would love to forget easily. In Catalonia, Barcelona face in-form Inter Milan with their talismanic skipper Lionel Messi who is out injured.
Here is our preview of some UEFA Champions League Match Day 3 games across the eight groups.
BORUSSIA DORTMUND v ATLETICO MADRID – WED. 24 OCT 2018, 20.00HRS
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Borussia Dortmund square off against Atletico Madrid in the battle for top spot in Group A. Both teams have won their opening two games; a hard fought 1-0 victory in Belgium and a comfortable home win against Monaco. On the other hand, Atletico won away at Monaco and dispatched Club Brugge at the Wanda Metropolitano to give them six points after the opening two rounds of matches. Lucien Favre has got Dortmund performing at a top level in his short time as BVB manager but a battle against Diego Simeone’s team is not tea party. Atletico are well drilled and defensively very solid which is what we expect at Signal Iduna Park from Los Colchoneros on Wednesday night.
VERDICT – Dortmund head into this game yet to concede in the Champions League this season while Atletico have scored five times already in the competition. The German side are in rich vein of form winning their last six matches in all competitions, the Spanish team are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions. Dortmund have the slight edge in the head-to-head record in their four meetings (2W, 1D, 1L). We expect a very lively and competitive game between two strong sides who will approach the game with their best strength; over 1.5 goals is our prediction
BARCELONA v INTERNAZIONALE – WED. 24 OCT 2018, 20.00HRS
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Spanish champions Barcelona welcome Italy giant Inter Milan to the Camp Nou for this Group B top of the table clash. Both teams have made a perfect start to the group phase with two wins each but Barcelona are on top thanks to a better goal difference at the moment. Phillipe Coutinho will face his former employers in this game and will be one of the stars to lead the Catalans in the absence of talismanic skipper Lionel Messi who broke his arm in the last league game against Sevilla. Mauro Icardi is the leader of the Nerauzzuris gang and has been doing the business in front of goal, he scored the winner in the Milan derby over the weekend.
VERDICT – The Italian team have won their last seven matches in all competitions while Barca form isn’t has impeccable as their visitor, they have won three of their last seven in all competitions. Barcelona may revenge on their mind considering Inter Milan knocked them out in the semi-finals of the competition eight years ago. Without Leo Messi, the rest of the squad will have to step up and on home patch, Los Cules are a force to reckon with. Our prediction is a slim margin home victory.
PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v NAPOLI – WED. 24 OCT 2018, 20.00HRS
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Carlo Ancelotti returns to Parc des Princes for the second time in two years leading a different team against his former club – Paris Saint-Germain who entertain Italian side Napoli in a crucial game at about midway point of the group phase. Having lost away to Liverpool and earned a victory over Crvena zvezda, this is a pivotal game for Les Parisiens as it could have a huge impact on their qualification from the group. Napoli have four points from two games including a victory over Liverpool to leave them top of the table going into this game. We expect fireworks in the City of Lights between two football teams who enjoy playing on the offense. Edinson Cavani will be playing against former friends and colleagues for the first time since his move from Naples to Paris.
VERDICT – Napoli have a good record in France (3W, 1D, 1L) but the head-to-head record between these two is in favor of the French club (1W, 1D). PSG have won their last six matches in all competition while Napoli have five victories in six. Both clubs embarked on new projects this season and appear to be on the right path. Napoli are likely to adopt a pragmatic approach in Paris while the home team will be expected to go all out. We believe the home team have enough quality dominate a win at home. Our prediction is a home win.
AJAX AFC v BENFICA – TUE. 23 OCT 2018, 20.00HRS
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Ajax are surprise leaders in Group E after two rounds of matches. A game between Ajax and Benfica is one with a rich history in European football, both teams have been power houses on the continent in the past and will hope to make a statement this season considering the group they have been drawn into. Ajax secured a credible draw against Bayern Munich in Germany last time out while Benfica recovered from Match Day 1 disappointment to nip all three in Athens on Match Day 2. Coach Erik teg Hag has started well at the Johan Cruijff Arena with de Godenzonen scoring with ease in front of their fans.
VERDICT – This is the first meeting between these two European teams who are performing well at the moment. Rafa Silva and Pizzi have been the standout players. Dusan Tadic has been providing the assist and Jan Klaus Huntelaar has been scoring for the Dutch giants. An open and exciting game is anticipated in Amsterdam; our prediction is over 2.5 goals.
SHAKHTAR DONETSK v MANCHESTER CITY – TUE. 23 OCT 2018, 20.00HRS
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Shakhtar Donetsk kicked off their Champions League campaign with two draws against Hoffenheim and Olympique Lyon. Ukraine champions welcome English champions Manchester City to the Oblasny SportKomplex Metalist in Kharkiv for their second home game in the Champions League and both teams are in very good form at the moment. The home team are on an 11-match unbeaten run while City are on a six-game unbeaten run as well. The Citizens have Kevin De Bruyne back after an injury layoff and his presence is an extra option for Pep Guardiola in midfield.
VERDICT – Both teams won their respective matches last season in the group stage. The home team adopts an attacking approach when they play in front of their home fans which is likely to suit the English team whose philosophy is to attack. Moraes and Sergio Aguero will lead the attack for their respective teams. Our safe prediction is that both teams will score on the night.
MANCHESTER UNITED v JUVENTUS – TUE. 23 OCT 2018, 20.00HRS
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Cristiano Ronaldo returns to Old Trafford with his new team Juventus to face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United. The Red Devils have been struggling for form and consistency this season compared to their visitor who have had almost perfect start to the campaign. Juventus have six points from their opening two games in the group and will look to Ronaldo to fire them to victory on his second return to Old Trafford to face his former club. Manchester United have four points from two games and will look for Paul Pogba to lead them against his former club. On the domestic front, United seem to be picking up decent results and were unlucky to drop points at Chelsea over the weekend.
VERDICT – Juventus have a poor record on English soil (4W, 6D, 12L); with four wins apiece and a draw, both teams have similar record against each other. In the last four matches between these teams, the away team came out victorious. This is the first meeting between the two sides since 2003, when United won 3-0 away to Juventus. We anticipate a hard fought match at Old Trafford with both teams not giving much away; our prediction is over 1.5 goals.
This wraps us our Match Day 3 Focus. Predict and win big in this money spinning competition by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers for all UCL matches.