By KEVIN KOCZWARA
Results aren’t guaranteed by showing up to a game in the UEFA Champions League. Chelsea learned that the hard way a few weeks ago when FC Basel went into Stamford Bridge and ruined Jose Mourinho’s triumphant return to the Champions League with Chelsea. And Barcelona learned that all too hard last year when they couldn’t break down Neil Lennon’s menu at Celtic Park.
Today, both Chelsea and Barcelona have a chance to redeem themselves in different ways.
Barcelona will look to bounce the memories of losing at Celtic Park last year by trying to undo Celtic’s defense. The catch this time around is that Barcelona will have to do it without the injured Lionel Messi. A Celtic win would throw Group H into a bit of flux, especially if Ajax can bounce back from the trouncing they received from Barcelona in the last round of games and take points from an AC Milan side that has looked, at times, less than convincing in Serie A.
For Chelsea, Basel isn’t waiting, but instead it’s a trip to Romania to take on Steaua Bucureşti. Chelsea needs to rebound quickly from their defeat at the hands of Basel because playing in Romania is never easy, and another failed chance at getting three points could potentially put the winners from two years ago in a deep hole in Group E. Leaders Basel and Schalke will play in Switzerland with a chance to take control of the group.
In this year’s version of the ‘Group of Death,’ Arsene Wenger brings his Arsenal side to Naples for a chance to take over Group F. But old foe Rafa Benitez and a much improved Napoli team await. It will be the first time that Mesut Ozil will play against former teammate Gonzalo Higuain, and a chance for Wenger to see if he did the right thing by passing up the chance this summer to sign the Argentine forward.
Also in Group F, Borussia Dortmund, last year’s runner-up, and Olympique Marseille are battling to get out of the cellar and earn their first win. Marseille will have a tough mountain to climb in Dortmund, but doing so would instill plenty of confidence in the French club as it moves forward.
The last group to play Tuesday is Group G, which features a match between Portuguese powerhouse FC Porto and a surging Atletico Madrid team that just took the sword to its crosstown rivals Real Madrid in league play. Both Group G teams lead their group, but Zenit hopes to keep pace with a game at home against Austria Vienna, which has an almost insurmountable task to get out of this group.
Here is today’s UEFA Champions League Schedule:
12:00pm – Zenit vs. Austria Wien– Fox Soccer Plus/Fox Deportes
2:45pm- Basel vs. Schalke 04– Fox Soccer 2Go
2:45pm- Steaua Bucureşti vs. Chelsea– Fox Soccer 2Go
2:45pm- Borussia Dortmund vs. Olympique Marseille– Fox Soccer 2Go
2:45pm- Arsenal vs. Napoli– Fox Soccer Plus
2:45pm- Porto vs. Atlético Madrid– Fox Soccer 2Go
2:45pm- Ajax vs. Milan– Fox Sports Net
2:45pm- Celtic vs Barcelona– Fox Deportes/Fox Soccer 2Go
What do you think of today’s UCL action? Which game(s) are you interested in watching? Think Mourinho and Chelsea pick up a victory? How will Barcelona fare without Messi?
Share your thoughts below.
The way Celtic get up for these champions league games is impressive. Although with rangers gone playing Barcelona sure beats the likes of Ross County.
Hmmm — pretty sure Napoli is showing up in England for the “group of death” match.
Also pretty sure that it was much less of Wenger “passing up the chance” to sign Higuain and more of Napoli swooping in at the last minute . . .
Hate it, they essentially surrendered to nbc sports and beIn sports. So they hold the champions league in this weird tv scheduling that’s kills me.
anyone else loathing what Fox is doing to the Champions League viewing arrangement?
You would think that Fox would be working hard to not screw this up. You would think…
Unbelievable! Clearly the higher ups don’t care. If they don’t care, they sell the right to someone who would do something with it (ESPN/NBC Sports/GOL/BEIN).
What a waste!