Roberto Mancini must be concerned about a case of déjà vu and exiting at the group stage, although Arsenal appear to be halfway there already after wins against Montpellier and Olympiakos. Meanwhile, the clash between the German champions and Spanish champions looks to be the match of the evening.
Arsenal v Schalke 04
The Gunners might already be floundering in the Premier League after Saturday’s surprise defeat at Norwich, although they have set themselves up to qualify from Champions League Group B after back-to-back wins, with Arsene Wenger probably considering a few changes for the arrival of their German opponents on Wednesday.
Domestically, Arsenal can ill-afford any mistakes and we might see the likes of Santi Cazorla and Mikel Arteta left on the bench, although the north London side are the 11/10 favourites (BetVictor free bets) to win at the Emirates and move five points clear at the top of the section.
Schalke have enjoyed a bright start to the season and sit third in the Bundesliga table after amassing 17 points from eight matches, with the visitors boasting an unbeaten start on the road and the only defeat suffered was a 2-0 reverse at home to Bayern Munich.
Huub Stevens’ will be confident that his team can pinch at least a point from this encounter ahead of meeting the same opponents at the Veltins-Arena in a few weeks’ time, with Schalke having already enjoyed a 2-1 win at Olympiacos before a 2-2 draw at home to Montpellier.
Jan-Klaas Huntelaar is the danger man for the visitors and he has scored in both Champions League games to date, while Olivier Giroud will be looking to get back on the scoresheet after being in fine form recently.
Ajax v Manchester City
Once again, City are enduring a frustrating time in Europe and Roberto Mancini will surely feel that his side have been unfortunate to once again be drawn with some of the continent’s powerhouses.
The champions of England were five minutes away from victory at the Bernabeu Stadium before Real Madrid rallied to win the match, while a subsequent home match against Borussia Dortmund saw Manchester City played off the park before salvaging a point thanks to a dodgy penalty.
It is now surely imperative that six points are gathered home and away against the champions of the Netherlands and the Citizens are a best price 3/4 (Paddy Power free bets) to come back from Amsterdam with a maximum haul.
Sergio Aguero was left on the bench at The Hawthorns before helping his team to rally with a comeback win and could well partner the underrated Edin Dzeko at the Amsterdam Arena, with the bookies making the Argentine 9/2 (Ladbrokes) to score first.
Ajax are pointless after defeats against Dortmund and Real Madrid, although they came within a whisker of claiming a point at the Signal Iduna Park before being outclassed by Jose Mourinho’s men. Frank de Boer’s side are unbeaten at home in the Eredivisie this season, winning three and drawing two of their five games.
However, the Dutch side have won just one of their last six matches and that is why the bookies are going as big as 4/1 (Sky Bet) about the home side collecting three points and effectively extinguishing City’s hopes of making the Champions League knockout stage for another season.
Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid
With Real priced at 11/10 and Dortmund available at 5/2, you could be forgiven for thinking that Wednesday night’s match will be played at the Bernabeu although it’s the German champions who are hosts and many will think Paddy Power’s odds of 5/2 are simply too big about a team that tore the Manchester City defence to strips in their last Champions League game.
While Borussia are struggling domestically as title holders, they have enough class to cause problems for a Real team who are also lagging behind in their domestic league although fortunes have changed since coming back against Manchester City to win 3-2.
Jürgen Klopp saw his team lose an ill-tempered derby at home to Schalke on Saturday and will hope for a reaction from his side as they hope to also avoid missing out on qualification for the second season running. Robert Lewandowski is a talented Polish striker and can be backed at 8/1 to score the first goal.
Real are blessed with lots of attacking talent and it was only a 2-2 draw at Barcelona that has stopped them winning their last six matches, with Cristiano Ronaldo a 7/2 chance to give his side the lead although it could be a closer contest than the odds suggest.