Madrid's trip to Anfield tops Champions League bill
21 October 2014, 10:46
Paris - The meeting of Liverpool and Real Madrid, who have 15 European Cups between them, is the pick of the games on Wednesday in the Champions League. We look at all the fixtures in Groups A, B, C and D:
ATLETICO MADRID V MALMO (1845 GMT)
In a finely-poised Group A, Spanish champions Atletico can ill afford a slip-up against Malmo at the Vicente Calderon. "It is a very important match to maintain a strong position in the group. Nothing else matters to us just now," said Atletico midfielder Mario Suarez, who scored in Sunday's 2-0 win against Espanyol in La Liga.
Diego Simeone's side, runners-up last season, lost at Olympiakos in matchday one but recovered to beat Juventus at home last time out. Midfielder Tiago Mendes, who also scored against Espanyol, is a doubt for the visit of Malmo, who are buoyant after securing a second straight Swedish title earlier this month and boosted their prospects in the group by beating Olympiakos 2-0 at home three weeks ago with a brace from former Racing Santander striker Markus Rosenberg.
OLYMPIAKOS V JUVENTUS (1845 GMT)
Juventus have been plagued by an inability to transfer their superb domestic form in recent times onto the European stage and a 1-0 defeat at Atletico Madrid in their last outing means there is pressure on Massimiliano Allegri's side before their trip to Greece. The Turin giants remain top of Serie A despite being held to a 1-1 draw at Sassuolo at the weekend and won 7-0 when they last met Olympiakos in the group stage 10 years ago.
However, a trip to the hostile surrounds of the Karaiskakis stadium promises to be just as tough for Juve as it was for Atletico, who lost 3-2 to Olympiakos in their opening game. That is despite the fact Michel's men are not running as smoothly as they were last season - on Saturday they required a last-minute Kostas Mitroglou goal to win 3-2 at struggling Ergotelis in the Greek Super League.
LUDOGORETS RAZGRAD V BASEL (1845 GMT)
A rousing 1-0 win against Liverpool at the St Jakob-Park three weeks ago boosted Basel's prospects of progressing to the last 16 from Group B ahead of a double-header against Bulgarian side Ludogorets Razgrad. The Swiss champions, who will again be without suspended Chilean midfielder Marcelo Diaz, head to Sofia fresh from winning 1-0 at Young Boys at the weekend.
Ludogorets -- forced to play 350 kilometres from Razgrad at the national stadium because their own ground is not deemed suitable -- are still looking for a first point in their debut group-stage campaign after running Liverpool and Real Madrid close. The nature of their performances in those games will give them hope, though, and they will be eager to exact revenge on Basel, who won 6-2 on aggregate when the sides met in the play-offs last season.
LIVERPOOL V REAL MADRID (1845 GMT)
Liverpool and Real Madrid, who have won a remarkable 15 European Cups between them, clash at Anfield with the Reds looking to maintain their perfect record against the Spanish giants. Liverpool beat Madrid 1-0 in the 1981 final and then triumphed 5-0 on aggregate in the group stage in 2008-09. However, while Real are the reigning European champions, Liverpool are adapting to the competition again after a five-year absence.
Brendan Rodgers's side are under pressure to perform after a lame 1-0 defeat at Basel last time out, but they will need to defend better than they did in beating Queens Park Rangers 3-2 in the Premier League on Sunday. Madrid head to England on a run of seven consecutive wins, having scored 32 goals in that time. Nevertheless, Carlo Ancelotti's side will be without the injured Gareth Bale and could be distracted by the impending Clasico against Barcelona on Saturday.
BAYER LEVERKUSEN V ZENIT ST PETERSBURG (1845 GMT)
Zenit head to Germany to face Bayer Leverkusen in Group C looking to extend a 16-match unbeaten run in all competitions. However, the Russian Premier League leaders have drawn their last three games, including a frustrating goalless stalemate with Monaco three weeks ago and a 2-2 draw with Krasnodar at the weekend, when they came from 2-0 down with Brazil forward Hulk netting his 50th goal for the club.
In contrast, Leverkusen threw away a three-goal half-time lead to draw 3-3 at Stuttgart on Saturday, a result that left Roger Schmidt's men sixth in the Bundesliga. The 2002 beaten finalists, who beat Benfica in their last Group C outing, are without Gonzalo Castro, Sebastian Boenisch and captain Simon Rolfes due to injury.
MONACO V BENFICA (1845 GMT)
Monaco meet Portuguese opposition for the first time since their 3-0 defeat to Porto in the 2004 final when they host Benfica at the Stade Louis II. The principality club are top of Group C, having beaten Leverkusen 1-0 at home before a creditable 0-0 draw at Zenit, while Benfica are yet to register a point.
The game will carry added significance for Monaco's Portuguese coach Leonardo Jardim, who coached Sporting to second place in the Portuguese top flight last season behind their great city rivals Benfica. Monaco -- whose squad contains Portuguese internationals Ricardo Carvalho and Joao Moutinho and Benfica loanee Bernardo Silva -- have had a slow start to this season but have lost only one of their last seven matches. However, striker Dimitar Berbatov has been on the sidelines of late. Benfica won 3-2 at Covilha in the Portuguese Cup at the weekend with Brazilian former Valencia striker Jonas netting a hat-trick. The result maintained their unbeaten start to the domestic season.
ANDERLECHT V ARSENAL (1845 GMT)
Arsenal make the short trip to Brussels to face Anderlecht bidding to record a morale-boosting win after seeing their stuttering recent form continue at the weekend. The Gunners required a last-minute Danny Welbeck equaliser to draw 2-2 with Hull City on Saturday, a result that means they have won just twice in nine games in all competitions. However, a double-header against the Belgian champions will give them a chance to build on a convincing 4-1 win against Galatasaray in their last group game.
Arsene Wenger will be without suspended goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny after his sending-off against the Turks, but the return to fitness of Theo Walcott and Aaron Ramsey provides welcome good news. Besnik Hasi's home side are top of their domestic league but a 3-0 home loss to Borussia Dortmund in their last Group D outing was the latest example of their difficulties in adapting to the higher demands of the Champions League -- they have lost their last five home games in the competition by an aggregate score of 17-3.
GALATASARAY V BORUSSIA DORTMUND (1845 GMT)
Borussia Dortmund have been outstanding in the Champions League in the last couple of years and their coach Jurgen Klopp will be looking for a rousing performance away to Galatasaray at a time when they are enduring a miserable sequence of results in the Bundesliga. A 2-1 loss at Cologne on Saturday was their third in a row domestically and five games without a win have left them 14th in the table. However, in Europe they have already beaten Arsenal (2-0) and Anderlecht (3-0) and the return to fitness of Marco Reus, Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan means their injury worries are easing.
Galatasaray are traditionally strong at home in Europe and are buoyant after beating Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce 2-1 at the weekend thanks to two Wesley Sneijder stunners but have just one point so far in Group D.
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