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Champions League: Round 3 Predictions

Round 2 of the Champions League was a pretty crazy one. Brugge kicked things off by getting a point at the Bernabeu, Bayern embarrassed Tottenham by putting 7 past them in North London and then Salzburg came from 3-0 behind to tie things up 3-3 at Anfield before eventually losing 4-3 anyway.

This week, we have several more big games to look forward to. Personally, I'm especially interested to see how Real Madrid get on at Galatasaray, if Atalanta can give Man City a scare and Ajax v Chelsea. Here are my thoughts on each Round 3 game, feel free to leave your own opinions in the comments.

Shakhtar vs. Dinamo Zagreb

This looks relatively even on paper, which is all I'm really going by since I'm far from an expert on either team! Both managed impressive wins over Atalanta but were well beaten by Manchester City. I'm going with Shakhtar as the home and slightly more experienced Champions League side in recent years. They've also won 11 out of 11 so far in the Ukrainian league! Prediction: 2-0

Atletico Madrid vs. Bayer Leverkusen

This one should be interesting as Atletico are notoriously very solid and tough to beat while Leverkusen are involved in quite a few high-scoring affairs. I expect the hosts to take control of this game though, especially since the visitors have had a pretty ordinary start to this Champions League season. Atletico have been drawing too many games in La Liga but they'll be well aware that they need three points here since they still have to go to Turin in this group stage. Prediction: 1-0

Brugge vs. PSG

Brugge did really well to get a 2-2 draw away at Real Madrid in Round 2 but they're now up against PSG who have looked really strong so far in this UCL campaign. Signings such as Gueye and Herrera aren't the kind of big stars that PSG usually look for in the market but they're very good additions and it's their improvement in midfield and game management that makes me feel more comfortable in predicting they can keep clean sheets in games like this than I have been in previous years. Prediction: 0-2

Galatasaray vs. Real Madrid

Real Madrid remain in inconsistent form but I feel they'll win this one. Galatasaray don't have enough to really threaten this Madrid defence, which is saying something because they look fragile at the back, and it's surely only a matter of time before Zidane's men get their UCL campaign rolling? Should PSG win as expected, Real are still nicely placed to qualify as group runners-up. Prediction: 1-3

Olympiacos vs. Bayern

There may well be a few thinking about the comeback Olympiacos managed against Spurs when making a pick for this one but Spurs are far from a good team this season and Bayern showed in Round 2 just how much better they are. This should be fairly routine for the German giants. Prediction: 0-2

Tottenham vs. Red Star

Despite their poor form, Spurs are in a similar position to Real Madrid in that if they win this game they'll be well placed due to Bayern being so much better than everyone else in the group. Another disappointing result at the weekend against Watford means there'll be some nerves ahead of this one but surely Tottenham can pick up three points? Prediction: 2-1

Manchester City vs. Atalanta

Atalanta have been so disappointing in the UCL this season given how well they did in Serie A last season and have continued to do domestically in this campaign. Their goal difference and 3-3 scoreline against Lazio at the weekend tells you the kind of game we're likely to see at the Etihad but this City team isn't a team you want to be playing in a wide open game. I like Atalanta and respect their approach but I can only see their Champions League woes continuing. Prediction: 3-0

Juventus vs. Lokomotiv

Juventus are obviously strong favourites. Still unbeaten under Sarri, Juve are going just fine at the moment and Lokomotiv are unlikely to be the team that changes that. Prediction: 3-0

Leipzig vs. Zenit

I'm interested to see how Leipzig get on here because Zenit have had the better start to this group stage and the hosts are going through a slight slump having started the season exceptionally well. A loss against Schalke has triggered a run of four games without a win so three points here would be very significant both in this competition and domestically. I'm backing them to get it. Prediction: 2-1

Ajax vs. Chelsea

Along with Inter v BVB, this is the fixture of the round. Growing in quality and confidence under Frank Lampard, Chelsea now face Ajax who are a very, very good side. The Dutch champions simply aren't used to losing games and have made a perfect start in the UCL with back-to-back 3-0 wins to go alongside their unbeaten start to the Eredivisie. After losing at home to Valencia, Chelsea will likely need a win in either this game or Valencia (A) so will Lampard roll the dice and go all out for three points? His team have been pretty attacking all season so I expect so but I'm not sure they're quite good enough to win a match like this yet so they'd do well to get the point I'm predicting. Prediction: 2-2

Salzburg vs. Napoli

After giving Liverpool such a scare at Anfield, Salzburg will be full of confidence for this one and we're all now more than aware of their scoring capabilities. This is a tough fixture for Napoli but one I think they can come through. They've looked strong defensively this season which is unsurprising when you have Manolas and Koulibaly as your two centre backs. Prediction: 1-2

Genk vs. Liverpool

Liverpool were pretty poor against Man Utd at the weekend but I think that was more an Old Trafford thing than a form thing. Genk did well to manage a 0-0 against Napoli in Round 2 but I'd be surprised if they also keep a clean sheet against Liverpool. Prediction: 0-2

Inter vs. Dortmund

Inter can't really afford to lose this game if they're to progress to the knockouts which makes this fixture even more interesting since Dortmund are very good but still certainly beatable. I expect Inter to be far more defensively sound than they were against Sassuolo at the weekend and Lukaku should trouble the BVB defence but I think the visitors can get a point. There's so many goal threats in the Dortmund lineup and as good as Conte is at organising his team, it only takes one moment of brilliance from Reus, Hazard, Brandt, Sancho, Alcacer or someone else to put them in real trouble in this group. Prediction: 1-1

Slavia Prague vs. Barcelona

Slavia managed a great result at the San Siro and played very well against Dortmund - they certainly weren't 2-0 worse than BVB in my opinion. So, we know this won't be a walk in the park for Barcelona, but you certainly have to consider them favourites, especially now that their front three of Griezmann, Suarez and Messi are beginning to click. Prediction: 1-3

Benfica vs. Lyon

It goes without saying that Benfica need to win this one having lost their first two group games. Lyon's UCL campaign has started fairly nicely but they're having a poor season so far in Ligue 1 so it's a tricky pick. I'm finding it tough to pick Benfica given their results so far and the fact that Lyon have some very talented players but I'm also not convinced of an away win so I'm going to sit on the fence. Prediction: 1-1

Lille vs. Valencia

A huge game for both sides, particularly Valencia who have the stronger hopes of progression to the knockouts but Chelsea had to work very hard for their 3 points at Lille. Group H always looked like it would be close from the moment the draw was made and we could see a real momentum shift this week. Valencia have been in solid form of late and based on their draw at Atletico at the weekend as well as their win at Stamford Bridge in Round 1 of this competition, I think they can battle their way to three points here. Prediction: 0-1

Best of luck with your picks!
19,308 caps
Unlike recent Champions League seasons, this one has the feeling of everyone being close to equal - so expecting a few "upsets" of less than likely results. I reckon Real, Spurs, Napoli, Liverpool, Inter and even Barca could easily be beaten here.
21 Oct 16:46
15,583 caps
Extra reason for our Saffa friends to back Man City as they host Atalanta. The Bergamo team have a defender named (I'm not making this up!) Hateboer.
21 Oct 22:11
2,454 caps
22 Oct 13:30
8,193 caps
Salzburg will beat Napoli. Napoli couldn't beat Genk away and they haven't won any of their last 5 champions league away games.
22 Oct 11:26
31,812 caps
Heh. My prediction is for entertaining upset: Slavia - Barcelona 1:1.

BTW: Thanks for including at least two Slavia players in Fantasy. Wish there were more, but I understand constraints. So many thanks. (And maybe they will inspire inclusion of few more)
22 Oct 12:50
35,030 caps
I'm a Spurs supporter but due to recent 'crap' form I picked them to draw. WTF... 5 0 Great for them but not so good for my pool results!
23 Oct 08:13
15,583 caps
That Lyon Goalie wants shooting! He should get 3 Assist points for throwing the ball (& the game?) straight to the feet of the Benfica attacker who could not believe his luck! Out goes my 1-1 replaced by an unlikely 2-1 - served up nicely for the 'Dumb-luckers' who often go 2-1 regardless of team quality. 1 exact out of 13 correct picks only 3 wrong. Please consider reducing the Exacts from 3 to 2 points. Underserved Rewards IMHO.
25 Oct 17:44