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The UEFA Champions League is one of the premier football tournaments in the world and the main draw begins with the first round proper, pitting 32 teams through 6 games in the group stages; where the top 2 from each group then progress to the next stage.
Juventus kick off their UEFA Champions League campaign this season with only one aim in mind, winning this title. They have strengthened the squad extremely well this season signing up Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves, Juan Cuadrado, Marko Pjaca and Medhi Benatia to strength all across the pitch. The team have started out the new season in fantastic fashion in the league dominating over the pitch and winning all 3 of their games so far. With the squad Juventus had last year and even this year, they should be able to walk through the Italian Serie A and will have their full aim set on this tournament. Since the 2013-14 season, Juventus have not lost a single game on their home patch. They were able to successful navigate a strong 2-0 win against Sevilla in the first round last year, and will be aiming to put in a similar performance again.
Sevilla have lost their successful manager Unai Emery and that has bought about defensive vulnerabilities as was season from a 10 game thriller against Espanyol where they conceded 4 goals and a lucky 2-1 win against Las Palmas on the weekend. As Sevilla are typically a selling club, they sold of some key players instrumental in their success in last years Europa League including Krychowiak, Immobile, Gameiro, Coke, Banega, Llorente and Konoplyanka. In their place, manager Sampaoli has signed on Vietto, Ganso, Nasri, Ben Yedder, Correa – all of whom could be considered mid-tier players and not necessarily the world class players that Sevilla would need to be competitive in this competition. In a group that includes Juventus, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb, Sevilla will be aiming to come in 2nd, and might not necessarily be upset if they come third and go back into the UEFA Europa League again.
Juventus have already hit their stride early on this campaign, and I am expecting another strong offensive performance from them in front of their home fans, and they should be able to net 2 goals in this contest.
Porto come into this tie of the UEFA Champions League after battling it out in the 3rd round qualifying in order to get to this stage. They have prepared well for this encounter by getting off to a strong 3-0 win on the weekend against Vitoria in preparation for this game. They have been in great scoring form so far this season, finding the back of the net 12 times in their last 6 games, primarily led by the great form of Andre Silva. The Portuguese side will be looking to get off to a good start against a Copenhagen side who have not had the best of success at this stage of the competition. Porto will want to use their strong home form in the Champions League where they have beaten sides like Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Basel, Maccabi Tel Aviv and will want to add their Danish opponents as another scalp tonight.
Copenhagen have made it to the UEFA Champions League group stages with qualifying stage wins against Crusaders, Astra and APOEL in order to get to this stage of the competition. In their previous group stage contests, they have only won ever won one game away from home against Panathinaikos back in 2010. In their domestic form, they have started out well tied in 1st spot with Brondby relying on Kusk, Verbic and Cornelius for their goal scoring form. Porto will be a task too tough I believe especially since Copenhagen have lost over 50% of their away ties in the Champions League by more than 2 goals, which won’t bode confidence for the side.
I am expecting Porto to come through this tie with a solid victory, and I am backing them to win by at least a 2 goal margin in this encounter.
Borussia Dortmund started out their season a strong 2-1 victory against Mainz 2 weeks ago and then they collapsed with a late conceded goal against RB Leipzig to get their first loss of the season ahead of this game against Legia Warsaw. Dortmund will be facing their opponents for the first time, and will need to get a strong win against this Legia side ahead of fixtures against Real Madrid and Sporting to come. Dortmund have established a pretty strong squad coming into this season with a strong offensive unit in Aubamayeng, Reus, Schurrle and Kagawa up front. Dembele and Shurrle will likely start along with Gotze in the offensive midfield position right behind one striker in Aubamayeng and they will aim to use their pace to out smart their opponents. They have strong back up unit of good players including Pulisic, Rode, Mor, Ramos among their backup options who could come on the pitch in order to score.
Dortmund always have strong players running into good positions offensively and with the full backs in Guerrero, Piszczeck and Schmelzer; all of whom like to bomb forward and get cross into the box. Dortmund have always attacked and that has seen the team secure an average of 5.7 corners between this season and last season, and already started this season with 7 corners in their opening encounter. They even secured another 6 corners in their last game against Leipzig; and we expect them to dominate against Legia and get another 6 tonight.
Their opponents Legia had to struggle and get to this stage after going through qualifying and were able to squeeze past Dundalk into this stage of the competition. Since then they have won 1 and lost 2 of their domestic ties, which won’t bode too much confidence for them. Legia know that Dortmund are missing several players like Subotic, Bendner, Durm, Kagawa and Reus; so they will want to take advantage and bomb on forward for victory, which will leave spaces at the back for Dortmund to counter attack. The Legia defence is not the best and will always want to clear balls away from the goal in order to stay alive in this group where they are the bottom ranked side. Weeks ago they conceded 11 corners to Ruch Chorzow and 5 to Arka; which will showcase their standards on clear out of the box.
Dortmund rely a lot on their wide players to deliver the results in Shurrle and Dembele along with the full backs, and I don’t see any reason why they won’t get 6 corners in this encounter.