21 November, 2012 - 11:59

Champions League Matchday 5: Key Fixtures to Watch on Wednesday

Champions League Matchday 5: Key Fixtures to Watch on Wednesday

With two matches to go in the Champions’ League Group Stage the knockout phase picture is beginning to take shape. Here are the most interesting matches to watch this Wednesday.

Manchester City – Real Madrid

Man City host Real Madrid in the Champions’ League Group D match with one thing on their minds – to win the game and retain any hope for the progression to the last 16. The Citizens have only two points from the last four matches following the defeats at the hands of Real Madrid and Ajax and two draws with Borussia Dortmund and Ajax. This fixture is decisive for both teams: should Man City be defeated they will lose any chance to advance to the knockout stage and will have only slim chance of finishing third for the Europa League spot. Real Madrid know a win at the City of Manchester Stadium will guarantee them the qualification to the knockout phase at least from the second place. In other words it is a kind of the winner-takes-it-all game.

Ahead of the last-but-one Man City Champions League match the pundits are discussing “virtually inevitable” Mancini resignation. Although currently The Citizens are topping the Premier League table, Sheikh Mansour is understandably dissatisfied with the team’s recent poor Champions League form and may be willing to dismiss the Italian coach. Pep Guardiola appears to be his likely replacement, taking into account the recent appointment of Txiki Begiristain as the director of football at Man City.

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Ajax – Borussia Dortmund

Ajax have been able to prove wrong the predictions that they hit rock bottom of the “Group of Death”. The Amsterdam side beamed the confidence in both fixtures against Man City. Ajax were convinced that they were unfortunate to draw 2-2 at the City of Manchester Stadium. Supposing that Ajax secures the victory over Borussia Dortmund there would be three real contenders for the progression to the knockout stage from the “Group of Death”. The defeat will leave the Dutchmen on the brink of the Champions League exit. Yet they still will have the real chance to fight for the third spot which will give them the opportunity to play in the Europa League.

Borussia Dortmund are deservedly the favorites to advance to the last 16, as they were playing entertaining attacking football against Real Madrid and Man City, won two games and were unlucky to draw another two. The draw will be enough to Borussia Dortmund to book their place in the last 16.

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Zenit St. Petersburg – Málaga CF

Despite the shocking defeat at the hands of Anderlecht, Zenit down but not out. Luciano Spaletti’s team badly needs the wins in two remaining matches if they are to progress to the next round. However the series of scandals and a miserable string of results caused low morale of the team. Such a pressure may prove hard to withstand and it will be really difficult for the team to try and win the game against the Spanish side.

Although Malaga CF are far from being as aggressive and quick as in the beginning of the season the Spanish side is still very dangerous. The Anchovies were among the first sides to book the place in the knockout round.

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Anderlecht – AC Milan

Anderlecht have the chance of jumping to the second spot in the Group C, should they gain the victory over the distinctly average Milan.

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Arsenal – Montpellier HSC

Arsenal need a win to guarantee the progression to the last 16, while the French side are still seeking the first victory of their 2012/2013 Champions’ League campaign.

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Schalke 04 – Olympiacos

Schalke will try to meet the expectations of their supporters and secure a comfortable win over Olympiacos to advance to the knockout phase.

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Dynamo Kiev – Paris Saint-Germain

PSG fans are waiting for another brilliant performance from their superstar Zlatan Ibrahimović who has single-handedly defeated England last week.

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FC Porto – Dinamo Zagreb

The Dragons are through to the knockout stage, yet they will do their best to win their group.

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Photos: sportinglife.com

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Author: Basil Naumov

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