This week’s Champions League fixtures prove to be interesting match-ups, all hugely important as we begin to enter the final half of the group stages. The most promising games include: Arsenal vs Marseille, Chelsea vs Genk, Barcelona vs Plzeň and AC Milan vs BATE.
Arsenal vs Marseille – Emirates Stadium – 20:45 GMT
In this weekend’s emphatic 5-3 victory over local rivals Chelsea, Arsenal’s talismanic captain Robin Van Persie sent out a clear message – the Gunners’ season is back on track. The Dutchman’s brilliantly taken hatrick now brings him to 28 goals in 27 Premier League games, an outstanding tally that really highlights his importance to any success Arsenal may have this season. Therefore, combined with Aaron Ramsey‘s most recent press statement regarding the upcoming fixture, that “we’ve (Arsenal) always believed we have the quality to challenge anybody”, there has most definitely been a change of tune in the Gunners’ camp. The twenty year old will be looking to build upon his performance last time the two teams met, a game in which his solitary goal was the only thing separating the two sides. Whatever the outcome, this will most definitely be an exciting and tense game between Group F’s two leading teams.
Chelsea vs Genk – KRC Genk Arena – 20:45 GMT
Following their crushing 5-3 defeat to Arsenal last weekend and the multitude of allegations that seem to constantly hamper John Terry‘s career, the onus is on Chelsea to perform. This, however, shouldn’t be too hard. The last meeting between the two teams ended up in a 5-0 victory to the West Londoners, with once under-performing Fernando Torres finding the net twice as Villas-Boas‘ men looked to retain their marginal lead at the top of Group E. But with Bayer Leverkusen snapping at their heels, could Abramovich‘s star-studded line up fall victim to caving under pressure?
Barcelona vs Plzeň – Stadion Eden – 20:45 GMT
Watching Barcelona is always a spectacle, especially against poorly funded Czech opposition, much more used to playing in 20,000 seater stadiums, let alone Camp Nou. The Spanish giants should have no problem in sweeping aside such meagre opponents, who despite being unbeaten at home during this Champions League season, will have a tough time dealing with the likes of Messi and Iniesta. The last time these two played each other, Barcelona comfortably ran out as 2-0 winners. Expect a bigger scoreline this time. With competition heating up between the Catalans and their Milanese rivals, the struggle for first place in Group H seems to be one that shouldn’t be missed.
AC Milan vs BATE – Dinamo Stadion – 18:00 GMT
In the wake of their 5-0 loss to Barcelona, the Belarusian champions must improve dramatically if they are to stand any chance of progressing past the group stages. So, a match against AC Milan is certainly not what they need. With the Rossoneri poised at the top of their group, merely by way of goal difference, the pressure will be on to keep it that way. Such a fixture promises to be a walk-over for the Italians who should comfortably dismiss BATE away from home. Nevertheless, BATE’s manager Viktor Goncharenko has called upon his team to change their fortunes around, prompting the possibility of an exciting and surprising score line in the Belarusian capital.
Images courtesy of The Premier League, Barcelona and Robin Van Persie