The Champions League returns this week and there are so many great matches in store. Pep Guardiola aims to continue his perfect start as Manchester City boss with a win at home over German representatives Monchengladbach. After a successful first Manchester derby, few would back against a winning start to this UCL campaign. Arsenal face a much tougher assignment in their away trip to Paris to face PSG, but their opponents losses of David Luiz and Zlatan Ibrahimovic provide cause for optimism.
Meanwhile, last year’s shock Premier League champions will make their debut in this competition. The Fantastic Foxes haven’t had the best of starts to their title defence, but you can bet that this game has been on everyone’s calendar since the draw was first made. The club may not have any European experience in recent seasons, but Claudio Ranieri has been there and done it, and there is no doubt that his troops will be ready. The draw has been kind to Leicester, grouping them with Brugge, Copenhagen and Porto, and they have a live chance of qualifying for the knockout stage. A win in Brugge would get them off to the perfect start.
Club Brugges v Leicester
William Hill are offering odds of +160 about the foxes coming away with three points, and it’s worth taking a chance that Leicester can produce the goods.
Ranieri was disappointed after the 4-1 defeat at Liverpool over the weekend, but in his usual calm style he put the game behind him and the players to concentrate on this match. One suspects that Leicester players may have had one eye on this fixture but took their eye off the ball at Anfield. However, Club Brugge are no European giants, and Leicester’s counter-attacking methods might just pay dividends in the Champions League.
Lat year’s incredible domestic success was built on a solid defence and a supercharged counter attack at pace. That style of play will suit European competition, particularly away from home where the opposition are obliged to push forward in search of goals. The majority of Leicester’s squad stayed with the club, and man-for-man they arguably have a better squad than Brugge.
The Belgian side haven’t a a good start domestically either, having already lost 3 of their six league games this season. They currently languish in 10th place and have only won one of the last six games. They’ve also struggled at home in recent weeks, where they’ve only managed two wins in the last eight games.
Manchester City v Borussia Monchengladbach
City got the better of United in Saturday’s derby to maintain the only 100% record in the Premier League. That was achieved without the services of lethal striker Sergio Aguero, and if you throw in the 6-0 drubbing of Steaua Bucharest, it’s been a perfect start for Guardiola. Aguero should be back for this one, and with City’s stars all firing, it will be a tough ask for Monchengladbach to get anything from the game.
The German side are no mugs having disposed of Swiss side Young Boys in the qualifying round, but they came up short against the Citizen’s last year and will probably do so again. They presented City with some real challenges in last year’s competition, but ultimately it was Manuel Pellegrini’s men who came out on top. Sergio Aguero scored a last minute penalty to win the game 2-1 in Germany last September, and they were losing by that scoreline at home in December, until three late goals from Sterling and Bony gave them a 4-2 victory.
However, Pep’s team looks a much better outfit than the one Pellegrini was able to field last season, and another home win is on the cards.
PSG v Arsenal
PSG won their first three games of the season in France, but defeat to Monaco and a draw with St Etienne was much less than they were expecting. With Luiz and Ibrahimovic moving to the Premier League a big part of the PSG spine has gone missing, and Unai Emery has a big job to rebuild the team. Arsenal are certainly capable of scoring in Paris, and could even go on and win the game.
The one concern in terms of the win market is Arsenal’s tendency to concede. They’ve seen Southampton, Watford and Liverpool score against them in the Premier League this season, with the only clean sheet courtesy of a 0-0 draw with Leicester. PSG have more than enough attacking prowess to cause a new-look Gunners defence problems, and both teams to score looks the obvious play.
Leicester to beat Club Brugges
Wednesday 14th September, 19:45 GMT
Man City to beat Monchengladbach
Tuesday 13th September, 19:45 GMT
PSG v Arsenal – Both Teams to Score
Tuesday 13th September, 19:45 GMT