It’s Thanksgiving week here in the United States and the UEFA Champions League gods have certainly given us a lot to be thankful for. Not only is it Matchday 5, when several teams will attempt to make big moves to either qualify for the knockout rounds or save their season, but the gods of European football are providing us with a feast of Champions League doubleheaders on both Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sports 2 on Tuesday.
(All times eastern)
BATE Borisov (BLR) vs. Bayer Leverkusen (GER) (12:00 PM Fox Sports 1)
In Group E there’s Barcelona… and everyone else — all three teams are within two points of each other. Obviously Leverkusen and Roma have the leg up and grabbing that final qualification spot with Roma in the driver seat holding a one-point lead over the Germans. With Barcelona on deck in Matchday 6, this match is a must-win for the Germans who also need to hope Barca take all three points against the Romans.
BATE had their moment with their surprising upset over Roma, but they are clearly the fourth-best team in this group. However that doesn’t mean the trip to Belarus will be easy for the German. Nevertheless Javier Hernandez has been on fire recently and he’ll provide enough fire power to give the Germans a 2-1 win.
Barcelona (ESP) vs. AS Roma (ITA) (2:45 PM Fox Sports 2)
Did you catch El Clasico on Saturday? Barcelona destroyed Real Madrid, and for the most part, they did it without Lionel Messi. It wasn’t just that the Catalans won 4-0, it’s that each goal was a highlight reel goal.
When Messi finally came on late in the game, he looked like he was on another planet from everyone else. Now Messi will likely make his first start since his injury and this one won’t be close. Barca win 3-0.
Arsenal (ENG) vs. Dinamo Zagreb (CRO) (2:45 PM Fox Sports 1)
Prior to this competition, most wouldn’t have expected Arsenal to be sitting at the bottom of their group and yet here we are. The stakes for this match are simple. Both teams are level with three points, the winner is in the driver seat to make the Europa League and has an outside chance at the knockout stage and the loser’s European season is likely over.
Arsenal have a slight issue in this one, they are dealing with a ton of injuries and don’t really have a senior holding midfielder who’s fit. On the other side, Dinamo haven’t played since Nov. 4 so while they’re certainly rested, they also may be a bit rusty. Arsenal still have Alexis and Ozil, but even they have been nearly invisible in Europe this season. This one will likely end in a 1-1 draw.
Bayern Munich (GER) vs. Olympicaos (GRE) (2:45 PM Fox Sports 2Go)
These two teams are actually tied at the top of Group F, but they are and that means both teams will be gunning for this one. The reason is simple, if you finish first in your group, you can’t get drawn against another team that finished first in the round of 16. That means if Olympiaccos can steal first place, they can avoid playing teams like Barcelona, Bayern, or Real Madrid at least until the quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for the Greeks, they’ll be facing a motivated and very talented Munich side. Robert Lewandowski has been pretty quiet recently, but don’t expect that to last much longer. Bayern 3-0 win.
Rest of the games
You wouldn’t expect Maccabi Tel Aviv’s best chance to pick up points in this competition to be against Chelsea but that’s indeed the case. Unfortunately for them it won’t happen. 2-0 win for the English champions.
FC Porto still haven’t secured a place in the knockout rounds as back-to-back losses combined with two Dynamo Kiev wins will see them miss out. Kiev still has that to play for, but Porto won’t let them get it. 2-2 draw.
Group H throws us a complete dud this week, though to be fair it’s the worst group in the competition so they throw us a complete dud every week. Through four games Lyon have managed to accumulate a grand total of one point, however I don’t believe in Gent at all so I’m giving Lyon the 2-1 win.
Valencia still has an outside chance of catching Zenit St. Petersburg for the top spot in the group but that outside chance includes a trip to Russia so it’s not happening, Zenit win 3-1.
Enjoy the games!