We’re halfway through with Matchday 4 in the Champions League and so far it’s everything we could have hoped for. Matchday 4 is typically the day where the top teams either pull away in their groups, or it’s the last chance for the bottom teams to really muck a group up, leaving everything to play for over the final two match days.
(All games are Wednesday at 2:45 PM ET)
Bayern Munich (GER) vs. Arsenal (ENG) (Fox Sports 1)
Two weeks ago when these two teams met, Arsenal absolutely needed a win to save their chances at advancing to the knockout stage against a team that had won 12 games in a row in all competitions. This time around, Arsenal still need a result but not nearly as badly. The difference is they come up against a Bayern team that is coming off a 0-0 draw and have their pride on the line in front of their home fans.
Arsenal will be without key players Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, as well as Hector Bellerin, but in the end it really doesn’t make a difference. Unfortunately for Arsenal, Bayern want revenge and Arsenal have too many injures. Bayern wins 3-0.
AS Roma (ITA) vs. Bayer Leverkusen (GER) (ESPN2)
While everyone was busy watching Bayern Munich and Arsenal play a pretty boring and tentative match on Matchday 3, these two sides were busy putting on an eight-goal thriller. Sure it wasn’t the best soccer at times, as it featured laughably bad defending, but it certainly had drama and was a joy to watch.
Both teams continued their good form in the coming matches, with Leverkusen continuing to pour in the goals, before slipping up this past weekend in losses to Inter Milan (Roma) and Wolfsburg (Leverkusen). Will we see more of the same on Wednesday? Probably not.
Despite Leverkusen playing much better over the past month, Roma are still the home team and the better team in general. Roma got off to a slow start in the Champions League thanks to having to play Barcelona on Matchday 1 then suffering a shock loss to BATE. They’ll erase that Wednesday with a 3-1 win, which will help them leapfrog both BATE and Leverkusen and put them in second place in Group E.
Barcelona (ESP) vs. BATE Borisov (BLR) (Fox Sports 2)
Should we start taking notice that halfway through the group stages BATE are managing to hang around in third place of Group E? Well, not exactly. They pulled out a shocking win against struggling Roma and played Barcelona pretty well at home, but they got destroyed in their away leg to Bayer Leverkusen and now they face a trip to Camp Nou. In other words, while they’re sitting pretty right now with three points, they’ll still be sitting on three points after their trip to Spain.
As for Barcelona, we won’t learn much from this match. They’re proving to have enough firepower without Lionel Messi, but we won’t know how good they truly are until he returns to the team. Nevertheless they don’t need Messi to roll over BATE 4-0.
Chelsea (ENG) vs. Dynamo Kiev (UKR) (Fox Sports Regional Networks)
By now you’ve heard all the different narratives on Chelsea. They can’t defend, key players have gotten very old very quickly, they struggle to score, and they needed to file a missing persons report on Eden Hazard months ago. Now Chelsea is reportedly playing to save manager Jose Mourinho’s job. The only problem with that is Chelsea’s players may not want to save Mourinho’s job. That could be problematic for Chelsea, but it’s pretty good for Dynamo Kiev who will manage to get a 2-2 draw from this.
Maccabi Tel Aviv (ISR) are looking for their first points of the competition, unfortunately their best chance for that will likely be their home match vs. Chelsea as FC Porto (POR) will go into Israel and grab a 2-0 win.
Belgian side Gent doesn’t have to worry about going pointless in the Champions League following their Matchday 1 draw with Lyon. They’ve actually played every team pretty tough in the competition and they’ll be good enough to get a 1-1 home draw against Valencia (ESP).
The other match in Group H features a Lyon (FRA) side in a must-win game to claw back into contention hosting group leaders Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS). Lyon will put up a fight, but the Russians will do enough to get a least a draw, which could effectively eliminate Lyon and should be enough to send the Russians to the knockout round.
The final match features Olympiacos (GRE) hosting Dynamo Zagreb (CRO) as both teams look to take advantage of wins against Arsenal and stay above them in the group. Unfortunately for the Dynamo, they’ll have to hope Bayern Munich takes care of Arsenal in order for them to stay atop the Gunners as they’ll fall to the Greeks 2-0.
Enjoy the games everyone!