Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid @NSK Olimpiyskiy @7pm on Dec.1
Group B will excite until the last match with a lot still to play for, especially for Shakhtar Donetsk, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid. Shakhtar conceded 10 goals against Borussia Monchengladbach in two games, but they can assuage those defeats with a win over Real Madrid on Tuesday and take second place in the group after their surprise 3-2 win over the 13-time champions on matchday 1.
Madrid are on a wretched run of form, compounded by injuries to important members of the team like defensive rock and captain, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Eden Hazard who copped another injury in the 2-1 loss to Alaves at the weekend.
The mathematics is simple for the Spaniards: beat Shakhtar and Zinedine’s men will be through to the knockout phase; lose and they will fret to the last minute of the last group game between Inter Milan and the Ukrainians on matchday 6. The German team, Monchengladbach, will confirm first place if they beat Inter Milan on Tuesday, although Antonio Conte’s side can be back in the reckoning if they win and Real lose.
Will Zidane pull another rabbit out of his hat in Ukraine?
Current Form: Shakhtar [W-L-D-W-L]; Real Madrid [L-W-D-L-W]
21/10/20 UCL Real Madrid 2 – 3 Shakhtar Donetsk
25/11/15 UCL Shakhtar 3 – 4 Real Madrid
15/09/15 UCL Real Madrid 4 – 0 Shakhtar Donetsk
Prediction: Shakhtar 2-2 Real Madrid
Atletico Madrid v Bayern Munich @Wanda Metropolitano @9pm on Dec.1
Diego Simeone needs to find a way for his team to take their La Liga form into Europe. But the opposition they face on Tuesday, Bayern Munich, are a very dangerous side, having beaten Simeone’s side 4-0 on matchday 1.
Lokomotiv Moskva and Salzburg can still topple Atletico from second place with two matches remaining, but there must be a winner between them on Tuesday to help them stay in contention. There are enforced absences for Luis Suarez and Lucas Torreira because of positive COVID-19 test results.
Simeone is also without Diego Costa, Hector Herrera, and Sime Vrsaljko. Bayern’s Hansi Flick, meanwhile, has left first team stalwarts like Manuel Neuer, Robert Lewandowski, Leon Goretzka, and Corentin Tolisso in Germany. Will Atletico take advantage of an understrength Bayern team?
Current Form: Atletico [W-D-W-W-D]; Bayern [W-W-D-W-W]
21/10/20 UCL Bayern Munich 4 – 0 Atletico Madrid
06/12/16 UCL Bayern Munich 1 – 0 Atletico Madrid
28/09/16 UCL Atletico Madrid 1 – 0 Bayern Munich
03/05/16 UCL Bayern Munich 2 – 1 Atletico Madrid
27/04/16 UCL Atletico Madrid 1 – 0 Bayern Munich
Prediction: Atletico 2-2 Bayern
Liverpool v Ajax @Anfield @9pm on Dec.1
Group D is interesting, with all three top teams separated by two points. Liverpool host Ajax on Tuesday, hampered by injuries, especially in defensive positions. Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, James Milner are injured while Thiago and Naby Keita are serious doubts.
Jordan Henderson returned against Brighton and so could lead the team with Rhys Williams expected to pair Joel Matip in the centre of the defensive four. The Reds took all three points from Holland in the first leg, courtesy of an own goal but the Ajax team have been on an unbeaten eight-match run since that loss to Liverpool in October.
There is every possibility that Atalanta will beat FC Midtjylland and take their points total to 10, which makes the match between Liverpool and Ajax a must-not-lose encounter.
Current Form: Liverpool [D-L-W-D-W]; Ajax [W-W-W-W-W]
21/10/20 UCL Ajax 0 – 1 Liverpool
Prediction: Liverpool 4-2 Ajax
Manchester United v PSG @Old Trafford @9pm on Dec.2
This could prove to be the tastiest match on matchday 5 with Manchester United needing a win to confirm qualification while PSG have to find a way not to lose, knowing that RB Leipzig can take all three points against Istanbul Basaksehir. Though Thomas Tuchel knows all about Edinson Cavani, how can they nullify the threat he poses? The Uruguayan is in excellent form after helping United overturn a 2-0 deficit last Sunday with a brace and assist.
Tuchel also has doubts concerning Neymar, while Danilo Pereira may have to be shifted into central defensive cover because Marquinhos is also doubtful. Can PSG take all three points from Old Trafford, or will they have to wait till the last minute in Group H to book their qualification for the knockout stage?
Current Form: Man. Utd [W-W-W-W-L]; PSG [D-W-L-W-L]
20/10/20 UCL PSG 1 – 2 Man. Utd
06/03/19 UCL PSG 1 – 3 Man. Utd
12/02/19 UCL Man. Utd 0 – 2 PSG
30/07/15 ICC Man. Utd 0 – 2 PSG
Prediction: Man.Utd 2-2 PSG