Champions League Preview: Chelsea v Schalke, Dortmund v Arsenal and Barca v AC Milan

06/11/2013 no comments »
Champions League Preview: Chelsea v Schalke, Dortmund v Arsenal and Barca v AC Milan

The Champions League is getting interesting and Chelsea and Arsenal will face tough matches against the German sides Schalke and Borussia Dortmund. In another highlight, FC Barcelona will challenge AC Milan at Camp Nou on Wednesday.

Chelsea vs FC Schalke 04 on Wednesday, November 6th 2013

The top two teams of Group E go head to head at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night; both with points to prove, and both looking for that elusive top spot. Jose Mourinho will be hoping for a repeat performance from the reverse fixture from his players, as his Chelsea side ran out 3-0 winners at the Veltins Arena just over two weeks ago. Manager and fans alike will be hoping for for an impressive performance from the Londoners, after a dismal display at Newcastle at the weekend cost them three points, and more importantly, lose ground on the title race.

The result at the weekend could spark changes for Mourinho; and one player he will definitely be without is striker Fernando Torres, who has a thigh problem. This will be a blow to Chelsea as Torres was instrumental to Chelsea’s victory in Schalke, scoring two of their three goals. This will give the chance to either Samuel Eto’o or Demba Ba to impress on an important European night for the Blues.

Schalke coach Jens Keller will be hoping for an improved performance from the last time these two sides met. His side, unlike Chelsea go into the game at Stamford Bridge on the back of win, after a 2-0 victory at Hertha BSC at the weekend. The Bundesliga side will look to capitalise on that result on Wednesday night, with a place at the top of the group at stake. Schalke enjoyed their last trip to the capital where saw off Arsenal 2-0 in the Champions League in October 2012 and would hope for more of the same against Chelsea.

Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal on Wednesday, November 6th 2013

This will prove to be an interesting match-up at the Westfalenstadion on Wednesday night; as Arsenal will look to transfer their impressive form domestically, to the European stage against a Dortmund side, who are looking at earning their eighth home UEFA Champions League win in a row.

This game will showcase two of Europe’s in-form teams with the visitors, Arsenal, topping the group, ahead of Dortmund on goal difference. The odds would slightly favour the home side as a result of their scintillating home form of late, as many clubs this season have tried and failed to crack the Borussia fortress. The result of the reverse fixture at the Emirates Stadium saw Dortmund leave London with a narrow 2-1 win thanks to star striker, Robert Lewandowski; and a similar tight affair is expected in this match.

Dortmund coach, Jurgen Klopp, will be hoping Lewandowski will be on the score sheet once again come Wednesday night. The much sought after Pole is in a rich vain of form, and will be fresh from netting his fourth hat-trick for the club in a 6-1 win over Stuttgart on Friday. Klopp, who recently signed a contract extension to the club until 2018, will be on the touchline for the first time following a ban of two games, and a victory for last season’s runners-up, who currently sit second in the Bundesliga, will see them edge closer to the knockout stages.

Arsenal too will be aiming for a result as they look to progress, and an impressive result at the weekend against Liverpool will see them come in to the game full of confidence. Aaron Ramsey, one of the scorers on Saturday, has netted 10 goals already this season and will certainly be a threat to the German side. The Gunners are unbeaten in their last four visits to Germany in the Champions League, and will look to extend that run on Wednesday.

Barcelona vs AC Milan on Wednesday, November 6th 2013

Two giants of Spanish and Italian football prepare to meet again, as FC Barcelona take on AC Milan at the Nou Camp. Barcelona, buoyant from a 1-0 win over local rivals Espanyol this weekend, will look to take their rich vein of form into this fixture. The Catalan giants are unbeaten in La Liga and in Europe this season, and a win against the Italian side will secure qualification to the knockout stages.

Lionel Messi will look to get back to his goal scoring ways, as a lack of luck in front of goal has seen him score just once in his last 5 games, which in fact was against Milan in the reverse fixture last month. The Ballon D’or Nominee has netted 4 times in the Champions League this season, including a hat-trick against Ajax; his fourth time to do so in Europe. Barcelona will be without Jonathan dos Santos who has knee ligament damage. While Jordi Alba, Isaac Cuenca and Ibrahim Afellay are also on the treatment table

Whilst both teams have performed solidly in this competition this season; AC, two points behind Barca in Group H, will see this fixture as a welcome distraction from their poor start to the Serie A season. Another defeat at the hands of Fiorentina midweek sees Milan sit a hugely disappointing 11th. The odds are against Milan, as the Rossenieri have not won away all season and have had a poor record in Spain in recent years, but will be hoping to but an end to that come Wednesday night. Milan will be without influential winger Stephan El Shaarawy who has a thigh problem. Giampaolo Pazzini and Daniele Bonera are also injured and will not feature at the Nou Camp.

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