Inter v Viktoria Plzen
Inter’s situation heading into this one is equal parts simple and equal parts terrifying for the watching fans. All they need to do is beat Viktoria Plzen in front of their own fans and they will be through to the Round of 16 for a second consecutive season.
The fact that it seems a simple task is what will terrify the fans. The Nerazzurri have a reputation for making the simplest of tasks extremely complicated and dramatic. Viktoria Plzen have lost all of their games so far and don’t harbour any hopes of stealing the Europa League place, but they would still love to come and get a result at the San Siro.
The reason there could be goals in this one is that Inter falling behind or conceding at any point to make the situation nervy is almost a given. That being said, they absolutely should be putting a few past the Czech side in their current form.
Both Lautaro Martinez and Nicolo Barella are now in devastating form, and it is expected that Romelu Lukaku will finally make his return from a thigh injury, be that from the start or from the bench. No one will be more desperate to score than Lukaku in this setting.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Marseille
Although bottom of Group D, Eintracht Frankfurt still have a strong chance of qualifying for the Champions League knockout stages with just three points separating the four teams heading into matchday five. On Wednesday night, Oliver Glasner’s Eintracht host Ligue 1 side Marseille. The German side come into the game in excellent form, winning their last three games across all competitions as they finally found their groove. On Saturday, they soundly beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 (from an xG of 1.77), placing Eintracht fourth in the Bundesliga and just three points behind leaders Union Berlin.
After being unsettled on a formation in the early stages of the season following the departure of Filip Kostic to Juventus, Glasner has eventually settled on a 3-4-3, which served him well in their Europa League winning campaign last season. Ansgar Knauf, Aurelio Buta and Almamy Toure are sidelined which will likely see Éric Junior Dina Ebimbe operate as the right-wingback again. The young Frenchman scored against Gladbach. A central-midfielder by trade, he’s adapted well. With Eintracht’s defence, what you see is what you get – they’re good in possession, strong in their duels but they’re nothing flashy. It’s their attack that can cause Marseille problems on Wednesday.
The front three of Randal Kolo Muani, Mario Götze and Jesper Lindstrom are proving difficult for the Bundesliga’s best defences. They’re currently average 2.2 goals per match and with a midfield pivot of Djibril Sow and Daichi Kamada, two players excellent in possession, SGE average 4.3 key passes per 90. They don’t tend to get many shots off but are extremely clinical. Marseille are likely to field the same 3-4-3 as Eintracht do and with the aforementioned attacking trio, you would fancy their chances to score against a defence comprising of Chancel Mbemba, Leonardo Balerdi and Sead Kolasinac.
Eintracht Frankfurt’s only win in the Champions League came against Marseille on matchday two. Wednesday’s game at the Waldstadion is a must win and in front of a raucous home crowd, as is always the case on a European night, you would expect that to motivate the players, as we saw so often in Europe last season. Marseille aren’t in the best of form with three defeats in their last four games and you would expect Eintracht Frankfurt to capitalise and with the more settled and close-knit squad, Frankfurt to beat Marseille at 2.3 on Betfair represents good value.
Atlético Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen
We won’t know until Club Brugge vs Porto, one of Wednesday’s early kick-offs, if this is mathematically a must-win match for Atlético Madrid, but they’re approaching it as such anyway. Diego Simeone’s team have had a frustrating start to their European campaign, taking just four points from their first four matches, but they’ll be confident against an even worse Bayer Leverkusen side.
Although the German team thrashed Schalke 4-0 in new coach Xabi Alonso’s first game, they’ve dropped off again since then with heavy 3-0 and 5-1 defeats against Porto and Eintracht Frankfurt respectively, before a 2-2 draw against Wolfsburg on the weekend. When Bayer hosted and defeated Atleti 2-0 earlier in this campaign, albeit with Gerardo Seoane in charge at the time, Atlético played well and deserved at least a draw.
Atlético have further improved since then, because of Simeone’s return to a more solid 4-4-2 system and because Antoine Griezmann’s contractual situation has been revolved, meaning he can now start matches. The Frenchman is in excellent form, scoring or assisting a goal every 89 minutes this season, and he certainly has what it takes to lead Los Rojiblancos to three points. He can also be supported by options such as Matheus Cunha, Ángel Correa or João Félix off the bench, with Atleti’s injury report having shrunk in recent weeks.
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