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Dominant Ajax finally got their first win of their UEFA Champions League campaign under their belts with a 2-0 win over Dinamo Zagreb at the Maksimir Stadium. Ajax were rampant throughout, and although they failed to score until the 49th minute and never had the game completely wrapped until Christian Eriksen scored a 90th minute goal, they were undeniably the better side.
It would have been a very different story if Ajax hadn't come away from Croatia with three points - the first half saw entirely too many wasted chances, and when Derk Boerrigter received the ball at the edge of the area after some brilliant dribbling by Miralem Sulegmani had opened up the space, and hammered an wonderful finish past Ivan Kelana, relief as much as joy filled the Ajax ranks. They had to be slightly on edge for the remainder of the match, although their hosts never really threatened an equaliser, but any fears of a comeback were put to rest when Erikssen grabbed the second.
Ajax are now level on points with Lyon in second place, five behind leaders Real Madrid. Can the former European powerhouse escape from the group stages?
Sergio Aguero broke Villarreal's collective hearts with a last gasp winner for Manchester City, leaving the superior team departing with their third win in three matches and virtually no hope of making the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League. A City win might have looked like the script before the match, but the assumption that they'd simply outclass their opponents (who are struggling in La Liga this season) proved very false just seconds into the match. The game was only four minutes old when Guiseppe Rossi lashed in a shot that Joe Hart couldn't deal with, allowing Cani to nip home and tuck in the rebound.
Etihad Stadium was stunned - City had just one point from their first two games and couldn't afford anything less than a win here to keep up with Napoli's pace. The hosts looked pretty poor throughout and despite dominating possession never seemed threatening. Their equaliser came in rather fortunate fashion, with Carlos Marchena diverting a cross into his own net, but it hardly eased City's nerves and they were barely better int he second half than the first.
Villarreal had clearly opted to hold onto the point with a raft of defensive substitutions, but Roberto Mancini was having none of that, committing Sergio Aguero to the fray with half an hour remaining. That would prove to be the key decision of the match - with seconds left in stoppage time, Aguero slid home a cross from point blank range to make the score 2-1 and spark jubilant celebrations. Manchester City are right back in it.
Manchester United grabbed their first win of this season's UEFA Champions League campaign, beating Romanian minnows Otelul Galati 2-0 thanks to two second-half penalties. It was hardly a spectacular performance from United, who saw themselves outshot by a team that only 0.05% of football fans know how to pronounce, and they also suffered the indignity of having fullback Fabio da Silva injured and Nemanja Vidic sent off for roughly zero reason whatsoever.
Oh, but they won. That was good. The first penalty was conceded after a really stupid handball by Sergiu Costin to knock down a cross, an opportunity Wayne Rooney couldn't resist converting with an emphatic finish. Then things got a little bit weird - Vidic was shown a straight red for going in late on Gabriel Giurgiu, a tackle that's never more than a yellow card, and eventually one of the hosts was shown the door too, the often-booked Milan Perendija drawing his second yellow of the match for a foul on Javier Hernandez. There was time to hit the post for Nani and then for Rooney to draw United's second penalty, which he drilled into the bottom right corner to give United a scoreline that made the whole performance seem like a routine win. It wasn't one by any stretch of the imagination.
FC Basel gave Manchester United a torrid time at Old Trafford but Benfica had no trouble whatsoever in dispatching their Swiss opponents St Jakob-Park. The Portuguese team went ahead in the 20th minutes through an absolutely wonderful goal. Although it was finished by Bruno Cesar, it was really made through great work by Nicolas Gaitan and a deft dummy from Rodrigo, which allowed Gaitan's cross to find the feet of the waiting (and totally unmarked) Bruno Cesar, who wasn't about to miss from 12 yards, no matter how hard Basel goalkeeper Yann Sommer tried to stop it*.
*Not very hard.
From there, the match was fairly straightforward. Benfica soaked up some pressure from Basel and then struck once more through substitute Oscar Cardozo, the striker putting his free kick straight through the wall and into the back of Sommer's net. The game went downhill from there, however - first Maxi Pereira was stretchered off in the 78th minute with what looks like it could be a bad injury and then Emerson went and got himself sent off a few minutes later after fouling Xerdan Shaqiri.
So, Benfica earn an important win and top the group at the halfway mark, but at what cost?
Well that's either a point earned or two points dropped for Bayern Munich. It's hard to say either way. The Germans were comfortably better than Napoli, whose trident of Edinson Cavani, Marek Hamsik and Ezequiel Lavezzi disappointed, but failed to emerge from the Stadio San Paolo with more than a draw. It looked as though things would be very different early when the visitors brushed Napoli's feeble defence aside for Toni Kroos to slot home after two minutes, but early dominance was undone thanks to a bizarre own goal that marked the first time Manuel Neuer was forced to pick the ball out of the back of his net since early August.
Although the front three were disappointing for Napoli, the wing backs weren't, and it was no surprise that Christian Maggio was the source of their best moment of the night after beating Philipp Lahm and driving towards the goal. His low cross was intended for Hamsik but instead Holger Badstuber got his foot in the way first, flicking the ball deftly past his own goalkeeper to level the scores.
Napoli would finish the first half in fine fashion, looking dangerous whenever Juan Zuniga and Maggio were in possession as well as threatening on the counterattack, but that confidence seemed to evaporate with the restart as Bayern were once again all over their hosts, with Walter Mazzarri's team woeful in the early stages. It seemed only a matter of time before the Germans would score again, and that moment looked like it'd arrived when referee Olegario Benquerenca inexplicably pointed to the spot after Paolo Cannavaro had blocked a Mario Gomez shot with his arm.
Up stepped Mario Gomez, Destroyer of Worlds. Against him was a sleepy little goalkeeper from the foothills. Goalkeeper won, as Morgan de Sanctis guessed correctly, hurling himself to his left to grab the striker's admittedly weak spot kick, punching the air in celebration. Things got fairly feisty after that, with the announcers commenting that Napoli weren't doing anything through the middle but missing that they were bit hit with crunching professional fouls whenever they tried. Thomas Muller laid in a particularly nasty on on Lavezzi in breaking up a counterattack, and on a different day could have been sent off for what turned into a two-footed scissor lunge. Instead, he went into the book, along with eight(!) other players.
Anyway, the game went on. There were chances to finish things up for both sides - Bayern more than Napoli on account of not having the world's most lackadaisical defence - but at the end of the day it seemed as though each would be happy with the draw, and that's what we ended up getting. Bayern still lead Group A, and Napoli remain in second place ahead of Manchester City. Attention now shifts to the reverse fixture at the Allianz Arena. If Napoli can get a result there, they're very likely to go through.
Inter Milan were far from their best on Tuesday night, but they were still able to walk away from France with three points in hand. They're now very much in control of their own destiny in Group B of the UEFA Champions League, thanks to a 1-0 win over Lille. Inter sat back and let the hosts have possession for the majority of the game, but the French champions didn't have the quality to break through, despite suffering 18 fouls - many of which were in dangerous areas - and winning 12 corner kicks.
Moussa Sow looked rusty in his return from injury, while Joe Cole and Eden Hazard were far from their best. The midfield was solid and Lille saw a boost when Dimitri Payet entered the game as a substitute in the 63rd minute, but even his influence couldn't create a goal.
Inter's winner came early, through Giampaolo Pazzini. In the 21st minute, he played a one-two with Wesley Sneijder, who hit a through ball for Mauro Zarate to run onto. Pazzini continued his run into the box and got onto a cross for Zarate that he was able to finish, putting his team ahead for good. Joel Obi and Dejan Stankovic came in for Mauro Zarate and Wesley Sneijder early in the second half, and that was all she wrote.
Real Madrid entered Tuesday's UEFA Champions League clash knowing that a win over Olympique Lyon would just about guarantee them the top spot in the group. It would give them nine points from three matches and a lead that no one else in Group D is really capable of erasing. Injuries to Lisandro Lopez, Clement Grenier and Jeremy Pied dashed any real hopes of Lyon getting a result too so it seemed a foregone conclusion that Madrid would have no problem taking down their French opponents. Well, it was as easy as predicted. Goals by Karim Benzema, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Sergio Ramos fired Madrid past Lyon as they picked up a 4-0 win to grab a stranglehold of Group D.
Benzema's tally was the only one of the first half and it was as easy as could be for the Frenchman. Cristiano Ronaldo flicked a corner kick onto the back post where Benzema and Ramos were waiting, completely unmarked. Benzema got his foot to it first, tapped it in and Madrid were ahead.
The second half brought more goals, starting with Khedira's finish off a pass from Benzema. The German knocked it home and the hosts had doubled their lead. Ozil got involved, again off of another Benzema assist, but Marcelo did the work with a run down the right. He unlocked the defense and found Benzema, whose attempt bounced towards Ozil. He was at a sharp angle, but knocked it in off of Hugo Loris and Madrid were ahead, 3-0. Ramos finished things when he went up for a corner kick. He couldn't win the header, but did knock it straight down and with two Lyon defenders trying to figure out where the ball went Ramos smashed it in for the final tally.
With the win, Madrid sit atop Group D with nine points. Lyon are even with Ajax on four points with four points and Dinamo Zagreb are last without any points.
So the match is turning out to be as easy as expected for Real Madrid. That's not to knock Olympique Lyon. They are playing without Lisandro Lopez, Clement Grenier and Jeremy Pied so it wouldn't be fair to expect much from them at the Bernabeu. Simply put, Madrid are a better team than Lyon and most certainly better than a banged up Lyon side. They are proving it too, with Sergio Ramos now getting in on the action to stretch the home side's lead to 4-0 in the final minutes.
The goal came off of a corner kick. It was lofted up to the center of the box, 10 yards from goal. Ramos went up to win the header, challenged by two Lyon players. No one really won the ball, with it just falling straight down to the turf. The problem for Lyon is that neither of their players who challenged for the ball knew where it went so while they were looking around for it, Ramos was hopping on it and slamming it into the back of the net. 4-0, Madrid are cruising.
One German finishes, then another and before you know it, Real Madrid lead Olympique Lyon 3-0. A Karim Benzema goal was all that separated the two teams in the first half, but it didn't take long in the second half for them to add to that lead. First it was Sami Khedira, then it was Mesut Ozil as Madrid have put Lyon to the sword en route to a perfect start to UEFA Champions League play with nine points from three matches.
Khedira has a rather simple finish to his goal. A good move by Madrid left the ball with Benzema, who spotted Khedira for the goal. Benzema also assisted on Ozil's goal, although the real credit on that one goes to Marcelo. The Brazilian cut through the Lyon defense down the left, leaving them scrambling before he fed Benzema. The Frenchman's attempt bounced over to Ozil on the left. Ozil shot and the ball bounced off of Hugo Loris and in for the goal.
Inter Milan haven't gotten off to the greatest start in their UEFA Champions League campaign, but they're well on their way towards taking control of Group B, thanks to a goal by Giampaolo Pazzini. The Nerazzurri lead Lille by a score of 1-0 at halftime, and they're 45 minutes away from what would be an absolutely fantastic result. Lille will have gone into this match thinking that they needed a point at home to stay in control of their own destiny.
Wesley Sneijder, Mauro Zarate and Pazzini all combined well for the goal, with Zarate providing the assist on a cross. Opportunities to score have been few and far between for both teams, but Inter were able to capitalize on their one great opportunity thanks to one flash of brilliance and some great combination play.
Lille have had more of the ball and were very aggressive in the five minutes following Pazzini's goal, but were unable to break through. The front three of Joe Cole, Eden Hazard and Moussa Sow has not looked particularly effective, though Lille's midfield three is having a very good game.
Well then. So much for Bayern being unconceded-upon in two months - Napoli have a goal in this UEFA Champions League tie, although it's a rather unorthadox one: Holger Badstuber has scored an own goal after diverting a Christian Maggio cross past Manuel Neuer and into the back of the net. In Badstuber's defence, it was an excellent cross and Merak Hamsik was hanging around just behind him, so he couldn't really do anything about it.
Napoli's general play probably hasn't merited a goal, but the hosts did have a legitimate penalty shout declined when Bastian Schweinsteiger met a cross with his arm. Olegário Benquerença ignored it. The referee, actually, hasn't been having a very good day - out of five yellow cards issued only one of them has been anything like legitimate, and he's just booked Maggio and Juan Zuniga for plays that weren't even fouls. Anyway, things are pretty interesting at the San Paolo - Napoli are actually looking like themselves again, and at halftime they can be pretty pleased with the way the closed out the first period.
This match isn't going to end 1-1 though.
19 minutes of pressure finally paid off for Real Madrid as they finally got their goal to go ahead of Olympique Lyon, 1-0, in their UEFA Champions League Group D clash. Lyon has actually been semi-dangerous on the counter-attack, but Madrid have carried the play and had the better of the chances. That turned into a goal when Karim Benzema was able to get a goal off of a corner kick to put Madrid in a good position to make it nine points from three group stage matches.
Mesut Ozil took the corner kick and drove it towards the near post. Cristiano Ronaldo got their first and expertly flicked the ball towards the back post where Benzema and Sergio Ramos were waiting with nobody there to mark them. They probably could have played rock, paper, scissors with all the time they had to decide who would get to knock the ball in, but Benzema just jumped on it, smashing the ball in to put Madrid in front of his old club.
Lille have had much more of the possession in the early going in their UEFA Champions League match against Inter Milan, but the Nerazzurri have snatched the lead on the road after 21 minutes, thanks to a goal by striker Giampaolo Pazzini. The front three of Inter combined brilliantly for the goal, and Lille now have to dig themselves out of a serious hole.
Inter manager Claudio Ranieri said in the build-up to the match that the return of Wesley Sneijder would make the difference in his team, and so far that statement has proven correct. Sneijder and Pazzini started the move with a wonderful one-two combination before Sneijder played a through ball to Mauro Zarate down the left flank. Zarate got to the ball and cut back the ball towards the penalty spot, where Pazzini made a late run. The timing was perfect and an unmarked Pazzini powered a classy finish into the back of the net, giving Inter a massive lead.
Apparently there was a stabbing incident in Napoli last night. No, the victim wasn't Franck Ribery. He's always looked like that. Oh, and now they're losing to the indomitable Bayern Munich death machine, within something like two minutes of kickoff. Bayern found it simplicity in itself to penetrate the pathetic home defence and Toni Kroos was on hand to slot a square pass past a helpless Morgan de Sanctis, whose reaction can probably be described as 'displeased'.
So that's just the start that the visitors will have wanted, and with them not conceding a goal in two months, Napoli have it all to do to even earn at point at the Stadio San Paolo. Maybe Napoli should think twice about playing a three-man back line against a lone striker next time. Anyway, the hosts are still doing that attacking thing and Holger Badstuber has earned himself a yellow card for taking down Ezequiel Lavezzi in full sprint. Yellow cards don't help much against goals, though. It's 1-0 here.
A back and forth first half exploded into a fantastic match of football with a touch of Vagner Love magic as CSKA Moscow beat visiting Trabzonspor 3-0 in the UEFA Champions League. The match at the Luzhniki Stadium was an open affair, with the visitors and the hosts both needing a win to hold much hope at all beating out Porto or Inter Milan for a place in the knockout stages.
Trabzonspor played well, but Love's class shone through - the Brazilian received the ball in the visitors' box, injured his back in the tussle for possession and still managed to play a quite brilliant backheel straight into the path of strike partner Seydou Doumbia, who finished coolly past Tolga Zengin for the opener.
The second half saw both sides attacking more or less incessantly. There were two great chances for CSKA to extend their lead early, but they were thwarted by poor finishing and good goalkeeping, and Trabzonspor were arguably unlucky not to have scored the equaliser before the hosts finally made their second breakthrough, substitute Aleksandrs Cauna volleying home a beautifully weighted Love cross. There was time enough for one more goal, this time a phenomenal solo effort from Doumbia, who managed to shuffle his way past a pair of defenders to open up space, and then it was over. 3-0 to CSKA, and they're suddenly right back in the thick of things in Group B.
If you were hoping for completely shocking formations and team selections in the UEFA Champions League match between Bayern Munich and Napoli, today is not your day. Walter Mazzarri and Jupp Heynckes have selected what are more or less their regular teams in their regular formations. Here are the lineups.
Napoli Lineup (3-4-2-1): Morgan de Sanctis; Salvatore Aronica, Hugo Campagnaro, Paulo Cannavaro; Juan Zuñiga, Walter Gargano, Gökhan Inler, Christian Maggio; Ezequiel Lavezzi, Marek Hamsik; Edinson Cavani
Bayern Munich Lineup (4-2-3-1): Manuel Neuer; Holger Badstuber, Daniel Van Buyten, Jerome Boateng, Phillip Lahm; Bastian Schweinsteiger, Anatoliy Tymoshchuk; Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Thomas Müller; Mario Gomez
One slight surprise is the inclusion of Tymoshchuk for Bayern. He's a very defensive-minded player who has great positioning and tackling ability. This selection is almost certainly a direct answer to Marek Hamsik.
This match kicks off at 2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local and can be seen on DirecTV Soccer and FoxSoccer.tv in the USA.
Lille and Inter Milan probably won't be doing anything surprising in terms of their formations or style of play this evening, but there are a few surprises with the individual player selections. Inter have started two true right backs, a left back who can play central defense, and one true central defender. They'll probably make up a back four with one of the right backs playing on the left. Lille, meanwhile, have put Moussa Sow right back into the starting lineup after he recovered from an injury. Here are the lineups.
Lille Lineup (4-3-3): Enyeama; Beria, Basa. Debuchy, Chedjou; Mavuba, Balmont, Pedretti; Hazard, Sow, Cole
Inter Milan Lineup (4-3-1-2): Julio Cesar; Nagatomo, Chivu, Lucio, Maicon; Thiago Motta, Cambiasso, Zanetti; Sneijder; Pazzini, Zarate
Mauro Zarate and Thiago Motta are both slight surprise inclusions in the starting lineup, with most believing that Diego Forlan and Joel Obi would start in those places. Kickoff is at 2:45 pm ET, 8:45 pm local time.
Jose Mourinho rewards Gonzalo Higuian's ludicrous form by having him sit out what is now the 678th time Real Madrid have faced off against Lyon in the Champions League in the past 18 months. Instead, Karim Benzema gets the start, in front of Angel di Maria, Mesut Ozil and Christiano Ronaldo. That's the sort of lineup that can give a defence nightmares.
Lyon reinstate Yoann Gourcouff to the starting lineup in place of the injured Maxime Gonlalons, but that's hardly going to help out their cause at the Santiago Bernabeu - they don't need personnel movement, they need a minor miracle to come away with anything from this match. Here are the starting lineups:
Both CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor have been able to create chances in an up-and-down UEFA Champions League encounter, but the home side have a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to one piece of absolute brilliance from Vagner Love and Seydou Doumbia. Both midfields have struggled to shut down the counter in a fast-paced match, but both defenses are holding strong for the most part, meaning the best chances have been long shots.
That is, except for the one goal. In the 29th minute, Vagner Love and Doumbia played a brilliant one-two combination to set up the goal. The Brazilian international Vagner Love received the ball at his feet and appeared to strain his back as he fought for the ball, but somehow played a stunning backheel perfectly into the path of Doumbia while holding his back in obvious pain. Doumbia ran onto the ball and finished with a piledriver of a shot, putting his team up 1-0. Luckily for CSKA, Love recovered from what must have just been an awkward stretch, and has stayed on the pitch.
The goal was Doumbia's 19th in 29 competitive fixtures for CSKA this season, and if this result holds, it'll give his team a lifeline in Champions League. Nothing but a win will do for the Russian side this evening.
Thanks to the wonder of time zones, Tuesday's UEFA Champions League fixtures kick off at 12 pm ET, 5 pm BST with a match from Russia. CSKA Moscow are in desperate need of a home win to get themselves back into contention for a knockout stage place, while Trabzonspor top the group after taking a surprising four points from Lille and Inter Milan. If Trabzon can avoid losing on the road to CSKA, they'll be in prime position to get to the next round of the competition. Here are the lineups.
CSKA Moscow Lineup (4-4-2): Gabulov; Ignashevich, A. Berezutski, V. Berezutski, Fedotov; Aldonin, Dzagoev, Mamaev, Tosic; Doumbia, Vagner Love
Trabzonspor Lineup (4-5-1): Tolga Zengin; Cech, Glowacki, Giray Kacar, Celustka; Serkan Balci, Zokora, Colman, Alanzinho, Mierzejewski; Halil Altintop
We'll have live coverage of CSKA vs. Trabzonspor right here. If you live in the USA, you can catch the game on DirecTV Soccer or FoxSoccer.tv online. The game is also on Sky Sports 2 in the UK and Sportsnet World in Canada.
Villarreal, through a combination of injury, a poor start, and bad luck, are having a terrible time of it this season -- and SBN Nation's Yellow Submarine Blog, Villarreal USA, minces no words when reflecting on the battle they'll face at Manchester City on Tuesday:
Villarreal have woefully underperformed in all areas on the season, and it has been reflected in the tables. The defense has been porous. The midfield has been flatfooted and unable to maintain possession. The attackers have not been able to put the ball in the net with any consistency. As a result, Villarreal find themselves mired in the lower half of La Liga, with 7 points in 7 matches. The Champions League is worse. Villarreal is downright moribund at the bottom of the Group A table - I can't help but get the feeling that all of the players have eaten their last meals, and are simply waiting for the executioner.
At first blush, it might seem as though the writers of Villarreal USA are simply prone to hyperbole. But when you realize that they're set to take on City at the Etihad, where only two goals have been scored this year, well...godspeed, Villarreal. But if Stephen Warnock can do it, I'm sure Giuseppe Rossi can as well.
Since arriving at Real Madrid from AC Milan, Kaka has been a disappointment. He's suffered a couple of serious long-term injuries, and when he's been healthy, he hasn't been able to find a place in the side ahead of Mesut Özil. That's changed a bit this year, as Kaka has re-emerged as something resembling the player he once was for Milan. He's been brilliant for Madrid so far this season, and many believe that he should be first choice over Özil at the moment. However, with some big La Liga games on the horizon and six points already sealed in Champions League, Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid would like to give him a rest.
I feel like Mourinho might rest Kaká or Özil to give Di Maria some run. Özil does not seem comfortable playing on the wing, so my choice is to rest Kaká tomorrow so he can be ready for our next La Liga game. I think it would be smarter for Mourinho to play one of them: if Kaká is as fit as he looks, Di Maria should get the spot instead of Özil, since the Argentinian contributes more than the German on the right wing.
Keeping Angel di Maria getting regular minutes is key for Madrid as well. As it was noted above, Özil is not a winger and Madrid don't always look at their best when they try to fit both Kaka and Özil on the same field. Kaka's return to form and fitness has sparked some major selection dilemmas for Jose Mourinho, though having too many good players is usually an okay problem to have.
For more on this game and all things Los Merengues, visit Real Madrid blog Managing Madrid.
Do you know very much about Otelul Galati, Romanian champions and Manchester United's opponents for their UEFA Champions League clash on Tuesday? I have to admit, my knowledge is limited. Fear not, though, because Gene over at Manchester United blog The Busby Babe went and did a bunch of research and can tell you exactly what to expect from them.
For Galati, expect to see Branko Grahovic between the posts and Sergui Costin with Milan Perendija as the center-back tandem. At right-back, Nejc Skubic and Cornel Rapa are candidates to start while Zoran Ljubinkovic and Adrian Salageanu are possibilities at left-back. In manager Dorinel Munteanu's 4-2-3-1/4-2-1-3 shape, expect to see Gabriel Giurgiu and Ioan Filip in the center of the park in the band of two. Liviu Antal is expected on the right flank in attack while Laurentiu Bus is likely on the opposite left flank. Up front, Marius Pena is the lone man up front with John Ike Ibeh is a withdrawn from him in the center.
I'm thoroughly impressed. As for what's actually going on with United, The Busby Babe feels like their team needs to be a little more clinical in front of goal. A failure to take easy chances usually comes back to bite teams on the road.
It would be quite shocking if United didn't get numerous goal-scoring chances in the early portion of the match. The key will be to be clinical with their finishing and not allow Galati to grow into the match. A big crowd is expected and if United allow the home side to linger around, the crowd may become vociferous and could will their side into the game. Despite the two losses in Champions League thus far by the Otelarii, they are a side that have been competitive and close to earning a point against both Benfica and Basel -- two sides United have yet to defeat.
United have just two points from their first two Champions League matches and are in serious need of a win. This game kicks off at 2:45 pm ET, 7:45 pm BST and 8:45 pm local time from Bucharest, Romania.
For more on the game and the Red Devils, check out Manchester United blog The Busby Babe.
Dinamo Zagreb and Ajax are both in serious need of a win to keep pace in Group D of the UEFA Champions League
Manchester United are heavy favorites for their UEFA Champions League match against Otelul Galati, with both Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic expected to start
FC Basel and Benfica have a chance to get to seven points, well clear of Manchester United in Group C, if either can win their UEFA Champions League encounter on Tuesday
Both CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor will feel like they need three points in their UEFA Champions League match on Tuesday
Villarreal and Manchester City both need wins if they want to keep pace with the top two in Group A of the UEFA Champions League
Lyon would have trouble handling Real Madrid under any circumstances, but with injuries to Lisandro Lopez, Clement Grenier and Jeremy Pied, getting a result is near impossible as Los Blancos look primed to win Group D
Joe Cole and Eden Hazard should return to Lille's starting lineup, while Inter Milan will bring back Wesley Sneijder, among others for their UEFA Champions League clash.
Napoli host Bayern Munich in their most formidable Champions League test yet. Can they take down the so-far irrepressible Germans? Probably not, but they'll give it a shot.
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