Champions and Europa League: 5 unmissable games during matchday 4
Image Via: Flickr/El Ronzo. Used under Creative Commons.
The November international break is round around the corner, but first, we will witness Matchday four in both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Some teams are inching closer to the knockout stages, while others need to improve before it's too late in order to avoid a group stage exit. And with no shortage of star-studded squads, we are in line for an incredible three-day slate of the best football Europe has to offer.
We highlight five must-watch matches scheduled for the coming days. Which one is your favourite?
Borussia Dortmund have been amongst the most surprising teams in Europe to start the season, while remaining undefeated following their first three games of the UEFA Champions League group stage. They know they only need three more points to secure both the top spot in Group A and a berth on the knockout stages. But it is not going to be easy since they will travel to Wanda Metropolitano to take on Atletico Madrid.
Los Colchoneros sit second in the group standings with six points, and they know a win could qualify them – as long as AS Monaco and Club Brugge draw their respective match. Plus, Diego Simeone’s men have been historically tough to defeat in their own venue. Can they pull the upset and steal all three points, or will Dortmund continue with their rampant march over Europe with a win in one of the continent’s toughest venues?
Things are extremely tight in Group C of the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League and it seems both Napoli and PSG will battle for the second place in a group that also features Liverpool and Serbian minnows Crvena Zvezda. When Napoli and PSG met a few weeks ago, a last-gasp strike from Angel Di Maria saved the reigning Ligue 1 champions from what would have been a disastrous defeat against Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
This time, Napoli will be at home, where they already defeated Liverpool in the current group stage. Considering Napoli have five points (W1, D2) and PSG have four (W1, D1, L1) with two games left to play after this one, the outcome is clear: this is a must-win match for both clubs, as Liverpool are widely expected to embarrass Crvena Zvezda to bolster their lead in the standings. Which team will come out on top?
Last but not least, we couldn’t leave this game out of our list even if we wanted to. Barcelona finally look like a team on the rise and their monumental 5-1 win over Real Madrid in El Clasico certainly lifted their spirits. But Inter Milan are no pushovers either, and the Serie A giants know a win could represent a giant step towards reaching the knockout stages.
Let’s not forget Barca remain undefeated with three wins in equal number of matches in the Champions League this season, so the math is simple: if they win, they will become the first (or probably second, depending on Borussia Dortmund) to reach the knockout stages. The sooner, the better for them. But can Inter stop them considering they will be at home with the support of their fans?
Most of the heavyweight matches in Week 4 of the UEFA Champions League will take place on Thursday, but that does not mean that Wednesday’s eight-game slate won’t be electrifying as well. And while top sides such as Manchester City and Bayern Munich will see action, the biggest game on the day will take place in Turin, where Manchester United will visit Juventus.
The Serie A giants know a draw will be enough to qualify, while a win will secure them the top spot in Group H. But Manchester United have failed to win their past two European contests, and need to win if they want to keep Valencia and Young Boys far from them in the standings. Plus, defeating Juventus could be a turnaround moment for The Red Devils, as they have looked quite inconsistent all season long.
Undoubtedly, the clash of titans between Real Betis and AC Milan headlines the UEFA Europa League’s 24-game slate for Thursday. But aside from the fact that this game will have two sides of some of the best league in the continent locking horns for the second time in less than a month, it could also be a pivotal clash to determine which side goes through as the top dog in Group F.
Through the first three games, Betis sit at the top with seven points while Milan has six. A win for Los Verdiblancos could seal them a ticket in the next round if other results go their way, while a win for Milan would push them to the top over their rivals. It is also worth noting that the first meeting between these two sides ended with a 2-1 win for Betis on Italian soil. Is it payback time for Gennaro Gattuso’s men?