The international break is over, domestic football has returned, and so too has the Champions League. This week starts one of the most interesting times in the group stage. The match-day three and four home and home. It’s the time where you play the same team twice in the span of two weeks, which can go a long way in changing the way a group looks. Teams that are on the bottom after two games, could easily find themselves on the top after four.
(All games kick off at 2:45 pm ET)
Bayer Leverkusen (GER) vs. Tottenham Hotspur (ENG) (FS1)
For Tottenham it all starts with how they cope with defender Toby Alderweireld’s knee injury. While the Spurs are optimistic that he’ll only be out weeks as opposed to months, the bottom line is they need to replace him right now. Tottenham are already without their top scorer Harry Kane, meaning there was even more pressure being put on their fantastic defense that simply doesn’t concede goals to give them a chance.
When the groups were first drawn this looked like it would be the premier match of the group, but now it’s looking like anything but. Domestically, Bayer have been terrible. They’re 10th in the Bundesliga with just 10 points. They’ve won just once in their past five matches in all competitions, though oddly that was against Borussia Dortmund, which just shows how potent they can be. It’ll be a team effort for Tottenham when it comes to defending, but they can get a result. 1-1 draw
Sporting Lisbon (POR) vs. Borussia Dortmund (GER) (FS2)
In a group that features Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, the odds were always going to be against Sporting advancing to the knockout rounds. But with two straight matches against Dortmund coming up, now is their chance to make moves. Sporting scores goals — a lot of them — and it just so happens that BVB’s biggest weakness (by a lot nonetheless) is keeping the ball out of their own net.
But that’s essentially the only weakness that Dortmund have. Everywhere else on the field they’re not just good but among the best in Europe. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang isn’t even firing on all cylinders and yet Dortund have still found the net 28 times in just 11 games in all competitions. Their attacking depth is astonishing and it will be too difficult for Sporting to keep up. Borussia Dortmund win 3-2
Real Madrid (ESP) vs. Legia Warsaw (POL) (FSN)
After five straight draws, Real Madrid made a thunderous return from the international break with a 6-1 shellacking of Real Bettis. Their stars are all healthy and finally starting to find themselves in a rhythm this season. They’ve struggled out of the gate in the Champions League, where it took them two goals in the last five minutes to defeat Sporting at home, before playing a thrilling 2-2 draw against Dortmund. This week though they get to re-establish their dominance and get their swagger back. Real Madrid win 5-0
Leicester City (ENG) vs. FC Copenhagen (DEN) (ESPN2)
Despite having a Premier League campaign to forget, things couldn’t be going much better for Leicester in the Champions League. They’ve picked up convincing wins in their opening two matches to sit first in the group. While many thought Porto would be their toughest obstacle in advancing to the group stage, that will likely come from Copenhagen. The Danish club can defend, really well. They’ve kept a clean sheet in four straight matches. They’ve conceded just nine goals in all competitions this year with six of those coming in the month of August.
All this could be problematic for Leicester, who have struggled to score this year. However, the Foxes have seemed to have made the Champions League the priority so they’ll find a way. Leicester win 1-0
Rest of the games
It’s been a Champions League campaign to forget for Dynamo Zagreb, who have yet to score in their first two matches. That will change this week as they welcome in Sevilla, who have gotten off to a hot start. However, if Sevilla have any hopes of winning a fourth straight Europa League, a 1-1 draw will do the trick.
It took a bit longer than expected, but Juventus have finally gotten things going this season. Their defense is back to being tough to break, and their attack is coming around. Welcoming in struggling French club Lyon will be a welcome sight for the Italians who will cruise to a 3-0 win.
Not many people were expecting to see Monaco sitting atop Group E after two matches but that’s why they play the games. Nevertheless they face a big challenge with a trip to Moscow against a desperate CSKA team. Expect both teams to come out and attack, but for them to cancel each other out in a 2-2 draw.
To put it bluntly, Club Brugge have been terrible in their first two games. They’ve scored no goals and conceded seven. FC Porto have also been uncharacteristically poor. Domestically they’ve been inconsistent but they are coming off a 4-0 win last weekend and should follow it up with a 3-0 win in the Champions League.