The matches are coming thick and fast. While some teams are hit by major absences because of injury and enforced COVID-19 hibernation, the available stars have to do their job and help gain an advantage.
Juventus v Barcelona @Allianz Stadium @9pm on Oct. 28
After the draws were made, this was the match many were looking forward to – the resumption of the rivalry between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Unfortunately, that cannot happen because of Ronaldo’s enforced absence after testing positive to COVID-19.
Both teams are going through some renovation under new managers – club legends at that. Juventus start this match fifth in Serie A, while Barcelona are 12th, the Catalans having recorded two losses in five though they have two matches in hand. Therefore, both teams need their form to improve immediately. Weston McKennie recovered from COVID-19 and should add more bite and dynamism to Andrea Pirlo’s midfield.
Barcelona will be without Gerard Pique, who got sent off against Ferencvaros while Philippe Coutinho is now injured. Both started this season’s campaign with good wins last week, but a win on Wednesday will matter much more. Will Lionel Messi be the talking point again after scoring in the tournament for the 16th straight year?
Current Form: Juventus [D-W-D-W-D]; Barcelona [L-W-L-D-W]
Head to head
22/11/17 UCL Juventus 0 – 0 Barcelona
12/09/17 UCL Barcelona 3 – 0 Juventus
22/07/17 ICC Juventus 1 – 2 Barcelona
19/04/17 UCL Barcelona 0 – 0 Juventus
11/04/17 UCL Juventus 3 – 0 Barcelona
Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Barcelona
Shakhtar Donetsk v Inter Milan @NSK Olimpiyskiy @7pm on Oct. 27
This is a very tricky tie after Shakhtar surprisingly beat Real Madrid last week and Antonio Conte’s Inter were held at home by Borussia Monchengladbach. A win for either of the sides gives them a fillip over Madrid–a win for Shakhtar will go a long way in helping them out of a very tough group. Inter have been unpredictable this season but possess enough offensive firepower in Lautaro Martinez and Romelu Lukaku, the latter who has already scored seven goals this season.
Shakhtar manager, Luis Castro, rested many players in the league, hoping that his players will produce another energetic performance against the sturdy Italian side. Achraf Hakimi and Aleksandar Kolarov may be Conte’s driving force from the flanks as he bids to shut down the hard running Manor Solomon and Tete, with the guile of Marlos pulling the strings from the midfield. Will Shakhtar get their first ever win over the Italian team?
Current Form: Shakhtar [D-W-W-D-W]; Inter Milan [W-D-L-D-W]
Head to head
17/08/20 UEL Inter Milan 5 – 0 Shakhtar Donetsk
24/08/05 UCL Inter Milan 1 – 1 Shakhtar Donetsk
10/08/05 UCL Shakhtar Donetsk 0 – 2 Inter Milan
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Inter Milan
Borussia Monchengladbach v Real Madrid @Borussia-Park @9pm on Oct.27
After resting players against Shakhtar Donetsk backfired spectacularly, Zinedine Zidane rolled out his main army for the El Clasico – a timely reminder to their next opponents, Monchengladbach, in the Champions League. There are no fresh injuries for Zidane’s team, though Nacho, replaced by Lucas Vasquez against Barcelona, could make a return in a first ever meeting with the German team.
But Monchengladbach’s manager, Marco Rose, in view of the coming test, could rest in-form Jonas Hofmann, who scored against Inter last week. Hoffman duly came off the bench to deliver one assist and one goal in the 3-2 win over Mainz in just 31 minutes. Rose also rested Marcus Thuram and Alassane Plea for the first half to get them in shape for Real, who will be confident after their 3-1 win over Barcelona.
Will Real Madrid get their UCL campaign back on track, or will they suffer a second consecutive defeat in a tight Group B?
Current Form: Monchengladbach [W-D-D-W-D]; Real Madrid [W-L-L-W-W]
Prediction: Monchengladbach 3-2 Real Madrid
Manchester United v RB Leipzig @Old Trafford @9pm on Oct.28
In a first ever meeting between the English giants and German usurpers, Manchester United must try to replicate their performance against PSG last week and consolidate their position in the group.
They should also be cautious because German teams have found English opposition quite easy to beat–whether home or away in the last two seasons. Leipzig will roll into Old Trafford as Bundesliga leaders while Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team is 15th after five league games.
It will also be an occasion to match Leipzig’s young manager, Julian Nagelsmann, a future candidate for the United managerial post. Against Chelsea, United needed greater creative spark to break down a back five. They could come up against the same tactic on Wednesday. Nagelsmann rested Yussuf Poulsen and Dani Olmo for their 2-1 win over Hertha, and both should return while Solskjaer can name Anthony Martial in Europe. Will it be one step forward and two backwards for United, or will they capitalize on the Paris win to increase their lead in Group H?
Current Form: Man. Utd [D-W-W-L-W]; RB Leipzig [W-W-W-W-D]
Prediction: Man. Utd 2-2 RB Leipzig