Man United vs. PSG big in Group H, Liverpool need win vs. Ajax


With just two rounds to go in the Champions League group stage, matchday five has plenty of big games with big implications.

— How teams can qualify for last-16
— Also see: Soccer world pays tribute to Diego Maradona

The crucial action comes in Group H as Man United and PSG go head to head, while there are also heavyweight clashes which pit Atletico against Bayern Munich and Liverpool vs. Ajax.

With that in mind, we run you through all the action ahead of what promises to be another unpredictable, dramatic week of Champions League action. Who will seal their place in the knockout stages?

Jump to groups:
— Tuesday’s matches: A | B | C | D
— Wednesday’s matches: E | F | G | H

Standings: Bayern (12 pts), Atletico Madrid (5 pts), Lokomotiv Moscow (3 pts), FC Salzburg (1 pt)

ATLETICO MADRID vs. BAYERN MUNICH

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Atletico Madrid picked up an impressive 1-0 win at Valencia at the weekend to make it six in a row in La Liga, but they badly need a victory in the Champions League to secure their place in the round of 16. Hector Herrera should be available again, while Luis Suarez needs to return a negative COVID-19 test to be permitted back in training.

Bayern Munich battled to a 3-1 win at Stuttgart on Saturday with Kingsley Coman, Robert Lewandowski and Douglas Costa all scoring. They are four from four in the Champions League and will aim to continue that in Madrid. Alphonso Davies and Joshua Kimmich miss out through injury while Marc Roca is suspended.

Expect this one to be a thriller, but end all square.

LOKOMOTIV MOSCOW vs. FC SALZBURG

Tuesday, 12.55 p.m. ET / 5.55 p.m. GMT

Lokomotiv Moscow have three draws from their four Champions League matches, and backed that trend up with a 0-0 at the weekend away at Akhmat Grozny in the Russian Premier League. Their form has been mediocre this season and they sit seventh in the table — they’ll also be without Fyodor Smolov, Mikhail Lysov and Dmitri Barinov for Tuesday’s match.

FC Salzburg lost 3-1 at Bayern Munich in matchday four, but reminded the Austrian Bundesliga of their dominance at the weekend as they won 8-2 at St Polten. The much-admired Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai bagged a hat trick, as did Malian striker Sekou Koita, while Mergim Berisha and Karim Adeyemi also scored. They will be without Youba Diarra and Patson Daka for Tuesday’s match.

Salzburg should upset the hosts here.

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Julien Laurens feels Real Madrid defender Marcelo is no longer good enough to play for the club.

Standings: Borussia Monchengladbach (8 pts), Shakhtar Donetsk (7 pts), Real Madrid (4 pts), Inter (2 pts)

SHAKHTAR DONETSK vs. REAL MADRID

Tuesday, 12:55 p.m. ET / 5:55 p.m. GMT

Shakhtar won 1-0 at Dnipro-1 at the weekend thanks to Tete’s 88th-minute winner, but have endured a rough time in the Champions League of late having shipped 10 goals to Borussia Monchengladbach in their last two matches. Shakhtar have four points from four matches and will be without Yevhen Konoplyanka, Davit Khocholava, Ismaily and Dentinho.

Real Madrid’s unpredictable season continued as they lost 2-1 at home against Alaves on Saturday, with Casemiro’s late goal not enough to cancel out Lucas Perez and Joselu’s strikes. If Madrid win in Ukraine, they’ll go through to the knockout stages but will be without Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard and Dani Carvajal, while Karim Benzema is fit again.

We can see this one ending in a draw, though Madrid will be through with a win.

BORUSSIA MONCHENGLADBACH vs. INTER MILAN

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Borussia Monchengladbach beat hapless Schalke 4-1 on Saturday with Florian Neuhaus, Oscar Wendt, Marcus Thuram and Hannes Wolf all scoring. They are ticking along nicely in the Champions League with two wins and two draws from their four matches, and Gladbach will be confident having beaten Shakhtar 6-0 and then 4-0. Jonas Hofmann and Ramy Bensebaini miss out.

Inter Milan have been desperate in the Champions League, with two wins and two defeats to their name. They badly need a win in Germany this week and will take heart from their 3-0 victory over Sassuolo on Saturday with Alexis Sanchez and Roberto Gagliardini scoring, alongside an own goal from Vlad Chiriches. Arturo Vidal misses out through suspension while Matias Vecino is injured. Daniele Padelli, Marcelo Brozovic and Aleksandar Kolarov are doubts.

Gladbach should have too much for Inter here, and a win books their spot in the last-16.

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Standings: Man City (12 pts), FC Porto (9 pts), Olympiakos (3 pts), Marseille (0 pts)

OLYMPIAKOS vs. MARSEILLE

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Dan Thomas is joined by Craig Burley, Shaka Hislop and others to bring you the latest highlights and debate the biggest storylines. Stream on ESPN+ (U.S. only).

Marseille are winless from their four Champions League matches — they’ve actually lost 13 straight in this competition — but beat Nantes 3-1 at the weekend with Florian Thauvin, Dimitri Payet and Dario Benedetto all scoring. Nemanja Radonjic will miss out while Leonardo Balerdi is suspended.

Olympiakos have one win from four in the Champions League and got a 2-1 victory at Aris on Saturday with Andreas Bouchalakis scoring twice. They will be without Mathieu Valbuena while Bruma and Ruben Vinagre are doubts. Ahmed Hassan and Vasilis Sourlis are also likely to miss out due to COVID-19 protocols.

Expect Marseille to snap their losing streak with a win here, albeit not one that’ll help them in European competition.

FC PORTO vs. MANCHESTER CITY

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

FC Porto won 1-0 at Santa Clara in the Primeira Liga thanks to Luis Diaz’s first-half goal. They are ticking along nicely in the Champions League with three wins from four and should have Mateus Uribe available. Marko Grujic is suspended while Pepe is still out.

Manchester City are already through to the knockouts and were ruthless at the weekend as they beat Burnley 5-0, with Riyad Mahrez scoring a hat trick alongside goals from Benjamin Mendy and Ferran Torres. Pep Guardiola is likely to have a full squad to pick from with Nathan Ake fit again.

Porto need one point to go through this week, though we reckon this ends in a defeat.

Standings: Liverpool (9 pts), Ajax (7 pts), Atalanta (7 pts), FC Midtjylland (0 pts)

LIVERPOOL vs. AJAX

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Jurgen Klopp is still fuming at the congested fixture schedule and his mood is unlikely to have improved after James Milner suffered a hamstring injury in their 1-1 draw with Brighton on Saturday. He is juggling a lengthy injury list, which includes long-term absentees Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk, while Thiago, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are all likely to miss out. With Liverpool needing just a point to go through, expect further rotation from Klopp.

Ajax won 5-0 at FC Emmen on Saturday with Davy Klaassen, Zak Labyad, Lassina Traore, Jurgen Ekkelenkamp and Quincy Promes all scoring. They have two wins, a draw and a defeat to their name so far in the Champions League and will be without Mohammed Kudus for their trip to Anfield.

We think this one will end up with the spoils shared.

ATALANTA vs. FC MIDTJYLLAND

Tuesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Atalanta’s bizarre season continued with a 2-0 defeat at home to Verona on Saturday. They are eighth in Serie A with four wins from nine and their Champions League hopes are in the balance as they sit level on points with Ajax. Atalanta won this fixture 4-0 in Denmark and are likely to be without Ruslan Malinovskyi, Aleksei Miranchuk and Robin Gosens.

The Danish champions drew 0-0 with AaB Aalborg on Saturday but are still top of the Danish Superliga. They have zero points so far in the Champions League and will be without suspended captain Erik Sviatchenko while Evander and Jens Cajuste miss out due to COVID-19.

Atalanta should have enough to get across the line.

Standings: Chelsea (10 pts), Sevilla (10 pts), Krasnodar (1 pt), Rennes (1 pt)

KRASNODAR vs. STADE RENNES

Wednesday, 12.55 p.m. ET / 5.55 p.m. GMT

Krasnodar are enduring a poor season and sit 10th in the Russian Premier League after their 1-0 defeat at Khimki at the weekend. They have one point from their four European games and this match is likely to be a shootout for the Europa League spot. They are without Matvey Safonov, Sergey Petrov, Dmitriy Stotskiy and Tonny Vilhena.

Rennes drew 1-1 at Strasbourg on Friday with Adrien Hunou’s second-half goal enough to earn them a point. They too sit on one point in Europe and have Daniele Rugani absent.

We’re marking this down as a win for the French side, which would secure them Europa League football.

SEVILLA vs. CHELSEA

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Sevilla sit fifth in La Liga after winning 1-0 at Huesca on Saturday with Youssef En-Nesyri’s late goal enough to earn the victory. They are level on points with Chelsea at the top of Group E and drew the return match 0-0 at Stamford Bridge. They are waiting on goalkeeper Bono to test negative for COVID-19 while Sergio Escudero is now out for two months with a dislocated elbow. Marcos Acuna and Suso will also both be absent.

Chelsea drew 0-0 with London rivals Tottenham on Sunday and will be hoping their attack finds some rhythm in Spain. Their defence has been watertight recently with Edouard Mendy proving a great bit of business in goal and Frank Lampard has a full squad to choose from.

We think this one will end in another draw, though there’s incentive to push for victory as the team winning in Matchday 5 will secure top spot heading into the last-16 draw.

Standings: Dortmund (9 pts), Lazio (8 pts), Club Brugge (4 pts), Zenit (1 pts)

BORUSSIA DORTMUND vs. LAZIO

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Borussia Dortmund fell to a shock 2-1 home defeat to Cologne on Saturday with Thorgan Hazard’s second-half goal not enough to pin back the visitors. But they are in a good place in Europe, sitting top of Group F with Erling Haaland in ridiculous goal-scoring form with six in four Champions League matches. They will be without long-term absentee Marcel Schmelzer and on-loan midfielder Reinier.

Lazio’s mediocre season continued with a 3-1 defeat at home to Udinese on Sunday with the prolific Ciro Immobile scoring a second-half penalty. They sit ninth in Serie A but are nicely poised in Europe, just one point off the top. Simone Inzaghi’s side travel to Germany without Silvio Proto, Luiz Felipe, Vedat Muriqi and Senad Lulic.

Dortmund, who need a point to go through, should win this.

CLUB BRUGGE vs. ZENIT ST. PETERSBURG

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Philippe Clement’s Club Brugge drew 0-0 at Mouscron at the weekend but it marked Emmanuel Dennis’ comeback. He was stood down by the club for their match against Borussia Dortmund last week after he stormed off the team bus due to his favourite seat being unavailable. Matej Mitrovic is unavailable.

Zenit are top of the Russian Premier League with nine wins from 16 and drew 0-0 at Arsenal Tula on Saturday. Their European campaign, however, looks to be over with just one point from their first four matches and they will be without Dejan Lovren, Douglas Santos, Danil Krugovoy, Vyacheslav Karavaev, Wendel, Magomed Ozdoev and Artem Dzyuba for Wednesday’s match.

The hosts should take the spoils here.

Standings: Barcelona (12 pts), Juventus (9 pts), Dynamo Kiev (1 pt), Ferencvaros (1 pt)

JUVENTUS vs. DYNAMO KIEV

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

Cristiano Ronaldo was rested for their 1-1 draw at Benevento on Saturday, a match where Alvaro Morata scored and then saw red late on, and the Portuguese great sits on 749 career goals and will hope to bring up yet another milestone on Wednesday. Giorgio Chiellini and Merih Demiral are likely to miss out.

Dynamo Kiev, who have seen a number of players absent due to COVID-19, won 2-0 against Vorskla on Saturday thanks to goals from Viktor Tsyhankov and Benjamin Verbic, while Illya Zabarnyi got a red card. They are top of the Ukrainian Premier League but have just one point from four in Europe. Mykyta Burda, Volodymyr Kostevych, Oleksandr Tymchyk and Nazariy Rusyn are absent.

Juventus should win this comfortably, with Ronaldo chalking up his 750th goal.

FERENCVAROS vs. BARCELONA

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

The Hungarian side are top of the Nemzeti Bajnoksag I and beat MTK Budapest 2-0 at the weekend with Tokmac Nguen and Roko Baturina scoring. Like Dynamo Kiev, they have one point from four matches and have Gergo Lovrencsics absent.

Barcelona head to Hungary fresh from back-to-back 4-0 victories, and with qualification already in the bag, Ronald Koeman may opt to rotate his squad. Gerard Pique and Ansu Fati are long-term absentees while Clement Lenglet, Ronald Araujo and Samuel Umtiti are doubts. At right-back Sergi Roberto is out, while Sergino Dest may not be risked, so this could be a chance for Koeman to test out fringe players.

Even without a number of first-teamers, Barcelona should have too much.

Standings: Man United (9 pts), PSG (6 pts), RB Leipzig (6 pts), Istanbul Basaksehir (3 pts)

ISTANBUL BASAKSEHIR vs. RB LEIPZIG

Wednesday, 12.55 p.m. ET / 5.55 p.m. GMT

Basaksehir were soundly beaten 4-1 by Manchester United last time out and drew 3-3 at home to Denizlispor on Saturday with Fredrik Gulbrandsen grabbing a brace and Demba Ba also scoring. They sit seventh in the Turkish Super Lig and have Junior Caicara, Mehmet Topal, Danijel Aleksic and Enzo Crivelli absent.

RB Leipzig edged past Arminia Bielefeld 2-1 on Saturday in the Bundesliga with Angelino and Christopher Nkunku scoring. They sit second in the German top flight and really need a win to keep their qualification hopes alive in the Champions League. Lukas Klostermann is out as are Benjamin Henrichs, Konrad Laimer and Hwang Hee-Chan.

Despite all the absences, we think Leipzig will come away from Turkey with a key victory.

MANCHESTER UNITED vs. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN

Wednesday, 3 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. GMT

United came back from two goals down to win 3-2 at Southampton on Sunday, thanks to Edinson Cavani’s brace off the bench. A draw against PSG on Wednesday will book a place in the knockout stages but they face a nervous wait to see if David de Gea and Alex Telles are fit, after both picked up knocks at the weekend. Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial are doubts.

PSG have won just two of their last five matches and the pressure is on coach Thomas Tuchel to turn their season around. They drew 2-2 at home to Bordeaux on Saturday thanks to goals from Neymar and Moise Kean and the Brazilian has called on his side to “play more as a team [and] be more organised” against United. Thilo Kehrer, Juan Bernat, Julian Draxler and Mauro Icardi are all likely to miss out.

We reckon United will have too much for PSG.



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