After a goal filled Tuesday of Champions League action with contrasting fortunes for Tottenham and Liverpool, its now time for Manchester United and City to kick off their bids to become ‘Champions of Europe 2018-19’.
Other highlights include Benfica vs Bayern Munich and defending champions, Real Madrid meet AS Roma.
Ajax vs AEK Athens (5:55pm)
Benfica vs Bayern Munich (8:00pm)
In the first game, I am expecting Ajax to run out comfortable winners because they have stronger quality about them and AEK Athens definitely don’t look like a side who could progress.
Benfica should provide Bayern with a tough test here because their last meeting in the 2015-16 Quarter Finals ended in a 2-2 draw.
This time around, Bayern have a new manager in Niko Kovac, who is their fourth former player to take charge at the club. From the previous three, only Franz Beckenbauer has enjoyed European success with the club by winning 1995-96 UEFA Cup.
That is bound to be a mental omen which he must ignore if he is to deliver in Europe and with Thomas Muller and Robert Lewandowski in fine form, I can see them edging a win here.
Ajax 2-0 AEK Athens
Benfica 1-2 Bayern Munich
Shakhtar Donetsk vs Hoffenheim (5:55pm)
Manchester City vs Lyon (8:00pm)
Hoffenheim might be making their debut appearance at this stage of the competition but Shakhtar are a tough side to beat away from home. Add in the fact that the Bundesliga side only avoided an away loss once in four European away games last season then I can see a home win coming here for Shakhtar.
Over at the Etihad, Lyon will definitely be real threats with Memphis Depay, Bertrand Traore and Nabil Fekir up front but City are a whole different class to Lyon’s domestic opponents so far.
I can see both teams scoring here but City will be too strong and Pep Guardiola has suffered only seven group stage defeats in last decade, underlining why they are favourites to go deep this season.
Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 Hoffenheim
Manchester City 3-1 Lyon
Real Madrid vs Roma
Viktoria Plzen vs CSKA Moscow
CSKA Moscow should have the measure of Viktoria Plzen who have a woeful Champions League record at this stage, winning just twice including away in December 2013 against todays opponents.
Real Madrid vs Roma meanwhile is a huge match because the Galacticos seem to come alive in this competition compared to their domestic competitions. Roma meanwhile reached the last four last season, having beaten Barcelona en route so know how to beat top teams.
Real however are now under the management of Julen Lopetegui who has never won a major tournament as a manager but this side know how to get wins by any means possible.
A draw wouldn’t be a surprise because both sides should progress but I have a gut feeling that it will be a home win here.
Viktoria Plzen 0-2 CSKA Moscow
Real Madrid 2-1 AS Roma
Valencia vs Juventus
Young Boys vs Manchester United
Valencia is a tough place to go and with signings like Goncalo Guedes, Denis Cheryshev and Michy Batshuayi, there is no reason why they cant test Juventus to their limits here.
Since start of last season, Valencia have suffered just four domestic home losses and have drawn their first two home games this season. Juventus meanwhile have started their season unbeaten despite keeping one clean sheet.
Over in Switzerland, Manchester United face a fearsome Young Boys who are in scintillating form.
The Swiss side have lost just one of their ten games this season so far whilst United at times have been defensively woeful, meaning that its hard to predict what to expect here.
I am however expecting Jose Mourinho to use this competition as his best chance at a trophy, given how tough it will be to win a domestic tournament with Liverpool and Manchester City in such form.
Prediction wise, I can really see a draw coming in Valencia but United should have enough in them to overcome Young Boys’ artificial surface.
Valencia 1-1 Juventus
Young Boys 1-2 Manchester United