Champions League group of death: EPL champion host to Bundesliga champion
By Shahan Ahmed
On Wednesday night, the Champions League arrives at the Etihad Stadium as Group D, the “group of death,” takes center stage again for another round of play. English Premier League champion Manchester City, which suffered a heartbreaking finish against Real Madrid two weeks ago, will be desperate to record a win and collect three points against Borussia Dortmund, the defending German Bundesliga champion.
Despite taking a 2-1 lead five minutes from time, manager Roberto Mancini’s squad walked out of the Santiago Bernabeau with nothing. Real Madrid scored twice to deny the Citizens a vital result, and failing to get a single point from a winning position was made more impactful by this fact – Manchester City crashed out of last year’s Champions League by a single point in a group of death with Napoli, Bayern Munich, and Villarreal.
In Wednesday night’s Champions League home opener, Man City welcomes a Borussia Dortmund side that also has a great deal to prove in Europe. Last season, Dortmund also buckled under the bright European lights of the Champions League, and the Germans finished bottom of their group. They were repeatedly embarrassed away from home, losing all three road matches and being outscored 8-2 in aggregate.
Dortmund started this season’s group play with an important 1-0 home victory over Ajax after Robert Lewandowski scored in the 87th minute. The Polish striker only managed one goal in six Champions League starts last season, and his production is key to Dortmund’s success. Lewandowski’s role is so vital that manager Jurgen Klopp did not allow the 24-year-old to leave the bench in Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Borussia Monchengladbach in an attempt to keep the striker fresh.
Also on Saturday, Manchester City beat Fulham 2-1 thanks to substitute Eden Dzeko’s late winner. Man City was the better team throughout and created far more chances, so the result was representative of the match, even if the score line was not entirely flattering.
Players to watch
Marco Reus, Borussia Dortmund: The 23-year-old Reus cost Dortmund 17.1 million Euros over the summer and is the second most expensive player in club history. Reus has found his place on the left wing using his ability to time his diagonal runs and pace to break away from defenses. Mario Götze’s return from injury resulted in the two young German internationals creating havoc for the opposing defense over the weekend.
Sergio Aguero, Manchester City: Like Reus, Aguero scored on the weekend, and the Argentinean striker has been working well with his compatriot, Carlos Tevez. The Tevez and Aguero partnership took a detour after Aguero suffered a knee injury less than 15 minutes into the first league match of the season. The 24-year-old has since recovered, and the Argentine was unfortunate to only score once last weekend.
AccuScore performed computer simulations based on team and player statistics in order to make predictions for Wednesday’s match. The computer picks Manchester City by the slightest of margins, giving the Blues a 40-percent chance of winning, 32-percent chance of losing and a 28-percent chance of drawing.
Not surprisingly, Aguero is most likely to score at 36 percent, followed by Tevez at 34 percent. Reus (26 percent) edges out Lewandowski (24 percent) as Dortmund’s most likely scorer. Götze is the fifth-most likely scorer in the match at 17 percent, and Yaya Toure is Manchester City’s third-most likely assassin at 15 percent to score.
Final Score: Manchester City 1, Borussia Dortmund 1