With October’s international break over and club football back underway, its time to resume European Football as the Champions League completes its first legs of each group this midweek.

Highlights of this week’s opening games include Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to Old Trafford with Juventus as they face Manchester United and Manchester City’s trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.

 

Group E

AEK Athens vs Bayern Munich (5:55pm)

Ajax vs Benfica (8:00pm)

Bayern Munich should definitely win in Athens but for Ajax and Benfica, these next two games could very well decide who will join Bayern in the knockouts. 

Ajax are currently top after clinching a win and draw from their opening two group games so can afford to settle for a draw here. Benfica however really need to win to give themselves a good shot because two draws then inevitable defeat at Bayern could be costly before their final group game.

I am therefore going for Bayern to top group after these games with Ajax second following a draw. 

Predictions:

AEK Athens 0-2 Bayern Munich

Ajax 1-1 Benfica

 

Results:

AEK Athens 0-2 Bayern Munich

Ajax 1-0 Benfica

 

Group F (8:00pm)

Shakhtar Donetsk vs Manchester City

Hoffenheim vs Lyon

Embed from Getty Images

Manchester City return to the place that saw their unbeaten start to last season come crashing down, as they meet Shakhtar Donetsk. 

Its hard to predict what we could expect here because City underperformed against Lyon before winning in Hoffenheim, with both results being 1-2. Shakhtar meanwhile need to tighten up their defence because they have drawn both of their group matches 2-2. 

For me, City need to transfer their domestic form across to this competition because they are capable of better performances than what they gave against Lyon and Hoffenheim. If they do that here then I can see them winning this game by a decent margin. 

As for Hoffenheim vs Lyon, we know that the German side are fast starters but Lyon are a strong side so can see a draw here if they fail to snatch a late win. 

Predictions:

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 Manchester City

Hoffenheim 1-1 Lyon

 

Results:

Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Manchester City

Hoffenheim 3-3 Lyon

 

Group G (8:00pm)

Real Madrid vs Viktoria Plzen

AS Roma vs CSKA Moscow

Embed from Getty Images

Although Real Madrid are struggling domestically as manager, Julen Lopetegui faces the sack, they should have too much quality for Viktoria Plzen here. Personally, I feel that a draw let alone defeat will be embarrassing for the two time defending champions given the gulf in talent between these sides. 

Over in Rome, CSKA are best placed for a draw here and are strong both in attack and defensively as shown last time out against Real Madrid. 

Roma however are a strong side at home with their last home defeat coming in February 2017 against Villareal in Europa League. 

Prediction wise, I can see an easy win for Real Madrid but Roma will hold CSKA. 

Predictions:

Real Madrid 3-0 Viktoria Plzen

AS Roma 1-1 CSKA Moscow

 

Results:

Real Madrid 2-1 Viktoria Plzen

AS Roma 3-0 CSKA Moscow

 

Group H

Young Boys vs Valencia (5:55pm)

Manchester United vs Juventus (8:00pm)

Embed from Getty Images

This is a huge night for Group H because if Young Boys draw with Valencia and Manchester United beat Juventus then it could very well be a pivotal moment in the race for a knockout spot for all four teams. 

In Switzerland, I am expecting a decent game because Valencia are stuck in a rut of drawing games, having drawn eight of their 11 matches in all competitions. That is remarkable consistency but to advance further, they need to start winning games like these. 

Young Boys meanwhile aren’t the best defensively in Europe despite dominating the Swiss Super League, so I can see a decently fought draw coming here unless the game is won by a single goal. 

Across the continent to Manchester and Cristiano Ronaldo makes another return to Old Trafford with his new team for a top of table clash. 

Let be honest here, United aren’t the best but have shown incredible spirit in their last two matches. Now is the time to embrace that spirit and use the home crowd as twelfth man because Juventus are at Manchester City level, so will ask plenty of questions of the Red Devils. 

If they don’t then expect a brutal battering here of two to three goals but I think Saturday’s test against Chelsea came at right time, in terms of opposition standards and will be a decent launchpad to victory here. 

Predictions:

Young Boys 1-1 Valencia

Manchester United 2-1 Juventus

 

Results:

Young Boys 1-1 Valencia

Manchester United 0-1 Juventus

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