Liverpool, Chelsea at home as Champions League returns

first_imgZenit vs RB LeipzigSaint-Petersburg Stadium, St. PetersburgTuesday, 05-11-2019 @8:55pmReferee: Orel Grinfeld (Isr)Zenit play host to Leipzig on Tuesday evening, as they look to take control of Group G. The visitors will be hoping to remain out in front, which would require at least a point.The Russians come into this fixture off the back of a 1-1 draw against CSKA Moscow at the weekend. Despite being the dominant side, Zenit failed to produce enough end product, which is a worry ahead of a game against a Leipzig side that has been in fine scoring form of late. Not only did the German outfit run wild in the final third a few days ago, they also came out on top (2-1) when this pair met in the reverse fixture a fortnight ago.Fortunately for the hosts, Gazprom Arena is a very tough place for non-Russian sides to go, as is illustrated by the fact Zenit have lost just two of their 23 continental home matches since 2015.This will be Zenit’s second home match of the current Champions League campaign. First time out at this venue, they got the better of Benfica in style, winning by three goals to one. They had moments of weakness at the back, but looked a real threat going forward and did the better job of both teams creating chances and producing end product.However, creating chances and coming up with the finishing touches is something Leipzig have also done very well this term. Tuesday’s visitors notched twice on route to beating Zenit in Germany a fortnight ago, while they come into this fixture having scored no less than eight goals in the Bundesliga on Saturday afternoon. What’s more, their first away match in Group G yielded three points, as they got the better of Benfica, winning by two goals to one.When the pair met two weeks ago, although three goals were scored, there wasn’t an abundance of final-third quality on show.Barcelona vs Slavia PrahaEstadio Camp Nou, BarcelonaTuesday, 05-11-2019 @8:55pmReferee: Michael Oliver (Eng)Barcelona had their title hopes dented at the weekend as they went down to Levante. This was no rotated Catalan side; Lionel Messi and co. were beaten 3-1, but will that fire them towards a response in the Champions League? Barca are edging towards the last 16, while three points against Slavia Prague will put them on the verge of qualification.The hosts are the heavy favourites to take all three points here, as Slavia come into this game bottom of the group with a single point to their name so far. However, the worry for the hosts is the impact of juggling multiple competitions, as they are just a point clear at the top of the table domestically. They face a tough run-in, with Inter Milan and Borussia Dortmund still to come in this group, so a victory for the Catalans is vital here.Slavia nearly produced a major upset in their 2-1 home defeat to the Spanish champions, but they aren’t likely to get that close in this trip. The visitors’ recent Champions League trips have brought defeats to BATE, APOEL and Dynamo Kyiv, who have each scored twice in those wins. That suggests this will be a comfortable victory for Barcelona on Tuesday.While Barcelona showed in Prague they can be vulnerable on the road in Europe, they will expect much better here. The bookies have naturally priced them up as clear favourites this week. The Catalans are coming into this one aiming to extend a brilliant run of form at home in this competition. Can they add to their recent high-scoring run on Tuesday?Barcelona have scored three goals or more in 13 of their last 17 home games in this competition. The Catalans have 30 wins in their last 33 home clashes in Europe. Before this season, Barca had scored three in eight of 11 group-stage home games.Liverpool vs GenkAnfield Stadium, LiverpoolTuesday, 05-11-2019 @11pmReferee: Ivan Kruzliak (Slo)Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has no new injury concerns ahead of the Champions League Group E visit of Genk. His biggest decision appears to be in midfield, where he is likely to bring back Fabinho having left him out at the weekend to avoid him getting a booking which would have ruled him out of Sunday’s game against Manchester City. Captain Jordan Henderson could be rested, having played 90 minutes at Villa Park, so James Milner may come in.Felice Mazzu has just a couple of fitness troubles on his hands before his side pays Liverpool a visit. Danny Vukovic (achilles) and Jere Uronen (ankle) are the only two players who will miss out for Genk on Tuesday, with Mazzu having a full strength squad otherwise.Liverpool and Genk’s only previous meeting was on matchday three of this season’s UEFA Champions League, with the Reds winning 4-1 at the Luminus Arena. Genk’s only away European visit to England was in October 2011, when they were beaten 5-0 at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League group stages. In all European competition, Liverpool are unbeaten in 23 games at Anfield (W17 D6 L0) since losing 3-0 to Real Madrid in October 2014 in the UEFA Champions League. KRC Genk have played more matches in the history of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League without winning than any other club (15 – W0 D8 L7), with their 4-1 defeat to Liverpool on MD3 taking them ahead of Floriana FC and Shamrock Rovers, who both have 14 winless games. Since the start of the 2017-18 season, the only player involved in more UEFA Champions League goals than Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino (14 goals, 11 assists) and Mohamed Salah (18 goals, 7 assists) is Cristiano Ronaldo (22 goals, 5 assists).Napoli vs RB SalzburgStadio San Paolo, NaplesTuesday, 05-11-2019 @11pmReferee: Szymon Marciniak (Pol)Carlo Ancelotti welcomed the likes of Mario Rui and Kostas Manolas in their defeat to AS Roma in Serie A, with the duo returning from injury. And, they may hold onto their places in the starting eleven for this game as well. However, the Italian outfit will be missing Brazilian midfielder Allan, who is their only injury concern for this fixture.Jesse Marsch will be missing a few players due to injuries, like striker Smail Prevljak and defender Patrick Farkas. Austrian custodian Cican Stankovic is out of the fixture after getting injured in the reverse match.Napoli and Red Bull Salzburg have met each other on three occasions, each time in 2019 – twice in last season’s Europa League and once in the Champions League group stage this season. Napoli lead the head-to-head record with two wins (L1). San Paolo has been a fortress for Napoli, who have played 18 home games in the Champions League and have won 12 of them (D3 L3). The Partenopei are unbeaten in their last five Champions League home games, winning four of those games (D1). If Napoli beat Red Bull Salzburg, they will be the first team to win three games against the same opposition in Europe in the same calendar year. Two more goals for Red Bull Salzburg’s Erling Haaland (currently on six) would see him equal the record number of goals scored by a Norwegian player in a single UEFA Champions League campaign (eight for Tore Andre Flo in 1999-00 and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2001-02).Lyon vs BenficaGroupama Stadium, LyonTuesday, 05-11-2019 @11pmReferee: Bjorn Kuipers (Hol)Olympique Lyonnais have endured a tough start to the season but they have managed to pick up back-to-back wins in Ligue 1. Attention will now turn to Europe and an extremely tight Group G with all four teams separated by just three points at the halfway stage. The French side have just the two players unavailable for this fixture with Fernando Marcal and Terrier both sidelined through injury.Benfica arrive in France knowing they cannot afford to lose but will be confident having won their last five in all competitions. The Portugese side sit bottom of Group G but picked up their first win against their opponents in this game last time out. Rafa Silva is a big loss for Benfica and Raul de Tomas also looks like missing out through injury in a further blow for crucial contest.Group G is the tightest pool in the Champions League as it stands, with very little between any of the four sides who each harbour ambitions of getting out the group. Both Lyon and Benfica head into this clash sitting outside the top two spots; can either side claim a victory to boost their hopes of surviving in Europe past Christmas?Lyon have been left third – behind Leipzig and Zenit – following that defeat in Portugal. They do have the bonus of the top two sides clashing on Tuesday, which offers a chance for the winners of this game to return to the qualification spots. However, the hosts don’t have a stellar home record. In fact, Lyon head into this one chasing a first home win in the Champions League since September 2016.They also come into this one having drawn their last six home matches in this competition, which offers an opening for Benfica to get something here. The visitors are searching for a point to keep them in the mix for second, while they are trying to turn around a three-game losing run on the road in this competition. The Portuguese giants head into this one following a five-game winning run, which has seen them score 11 times. Can they continue that scoring streak in France?Part of Lyon’s struggles in this competition has been their defensive record. The hosts have seen both teams score in four of their last five home matches in this competition, with the only exception a backs-to-the-wall draw with Barcelona. When Lyon get forward, they tend to leave gaps at the back. Their last 11 games in this competition have seen both teams score on nine occasions; can that record continue in this clash?The Portuguese champions should pack a punch in this clash, especially with Lyon having trouble at the back. We expect another open tie between these two, so we are backing both teams to score on Tuesday night, with Benfica likely to get forward to test the French side at the back.Borussia Dortmund vs Inter MilanSigna Induna Park, DortmundTuesday, 05-10-2019 @11pmReferee: Danny Makkelie (Hol)Dortmund received a massive blow on the weekend when Marco Reus picked up a fresh injury. There has been no concrete news over the severity of that knock, but he is sure to miss the midweek’s game against Inter. The club captain will likely be replaced by Mario Gotze.Conte made a wealth of changes to the side that secured a 2-1 win over Bologna on the weekend. He is expected to revert those changes, aside from one or two exceptions, including the goalkeeper Samir Handanovic and the two defenders in Stefan de Vrij and Milan Skriniar.Borussia Dortmund and Inter Milan’s only previous Champions League meeting was on MD3, with the Italian side winning 2-0 at the San Siro. This will be Dortmund’s third home European match against Inter – they won neither of their previous two, drawing -2 in April 1964 in the European Cup and losing 3-1 in March 1994 in the UEFA Cup. In major UEFA European competition, Inter Milan are one of only four sides that Borussia Dortmund have faced more than once at home without winning, along with Juventus, Liverpool and Barcelona. Borussia Dortmund have failed to score in six of their last eight UEFA Champions League matches, having failed to score in just six of their previous 41 matches in the competition. Inter Milan have lost their last three away Champions League matches, their worst away losing run in the competition.Chelsea vs AjaxStamford Bridge, LondonTuesday, 05-11-2019 @11pmReferee: Gianluca Rocchi (Ita)Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is set to return from injury for Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Ajax, head coach Frank Lampard has confirmed. Kante has made just six appearances for Chelsea this season and has missed their last five games after his previous comeback was curtailed by a groin injury picked up on international duty with France. Midfielder Ross Barkley (ankle) and defender Andreas Christensen (thigh) are also back in training after spells on the sidelines last month.Erik ten Hag has full squad to pick from, although Edson Alvarez went off injured in the 4-2 win over PEC Zwolle at the weekend and may not be risked.Chelsea and Ajax’s only previous European clash was on matchday three this season, with the Blues winning 1-0. Ajax have never lost an away UEFA Champions League match in England (W1 D3 L0), winning most recently away at Spurs in April 2019. Their last away European Cup defeat on English soil was in April 1980, a 2-0 semi-final defeat against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side. Chelsea have a 100 per cent-win record in UEFA Champions League matches against Dutch opponents, beating Feyenoord twice in the 1999/2000 season and Ajax on MD3 this season. Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has managed more away UEFA Champions League games without losing than any other manager (seven games), winning five and drawing two. Only two managers have lost none of their first eight away games in the competition – Louis van Gaal (first 14 games) and Pep Guardiola (first 11 games). Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi has scored one goal every 47 minutes for the Blues in the Champions League (3 goals in 141 minutes) – the best minutes per goal ratio of any Chelsea player in the competition. Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in eight of Ajax’s last 14 goals scored in the group stage of the Champions League (five goals, three assists), including six of their last seven away from home (three goals, three assists).Valencia vs LilleEstadio Mestalla, ValenciaTuesday, 05-11-2019 @11pmReferee: Sergev Karasev (Rus)Valencia have not started the season well and they will be in real danger of dropping out of Europe if they lose this game with Lille. The Spaniards have been unable to back up their matchday one victory over Chelsea and have picked up just one point from their next two. Valencia will be without the suspended Mouctar Diakhaby after the French defender was sent off in the last game against Lille.Lille have only picked up one point from Group H so far and with games running out, they need a positive result from this trip to Valencia. The French side have been inconsistent all season but their away record is alarming with no win from seven in all competitions. Timothy Weah continues to sit out for Lille while Renato Sanches is also still a couple of weeks away due to his hamstring injury.Will Valencia boost their hopes of making it into the last 16 by claiming a victory against Lille this week? A draw with the French side last time out was a major blow to the Spanish side, who are battling Chelsea and Ajax for a spot in the last 16. Can they continue that push on Tuesday?The hosts are looking at this one as a must-win home clash, which comes on the back of their 2-1 win at Espanyol at the weekend. The Spanish side are in mixed domestic form, but they can’t let that continue in a clash which could shape their European campaign this term. Given their last clash with Lille was a missed opportunity, the hosts must do better here.The visitors already look cut adrift in this group. Lille have been beaten by both Chelsea and Ajax so far, while a third defeat for them would all but rule them out of enjoying European football post-Christmas. However, we doubt the French side will turn things around here. They are winless in their last 11 away games across all competitions. This season, Lille have already been beaten five times in seven games on the road, while they have suffered back-to-back defeats heading into this one.Valencia are coming off the back of a solid victory, while they should view Lille as a beatable side. The visitors hardly have much European pedigree, with five defeats in seven away trips in this competition, including a loss at Valencia. Meanwhile, the hosts are coming off a campaign that saw them do what they needed to at home, to give them a chance of progressing in this competition.Comments Tags: champions leagueChelsealiverpoollast_img