Champions League Group B preview: Tough task for Arsenal at Schalke

5 November 2012 02:57

Schalke will be hoping to extend their lead on top of Group B when they host Arsenal at the Veltins-Arena on Tuesday.

The German outfit are currently one point ahead of the Gunners after their 2-0 victory at the Emirates on matchday three and victory in Gelsenkirchen will go a long way to ensure qualification into the knockout round for the second time in three seasons.

Huub Stevens’ men are currently second on the Bundesliga table and despite suffering a last-minute defeat to Hoffenheim on the weekend they have been in good form over the past month, winning six of their last seven matches.

Dutch striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has looked particularly dangerous for his side so far this season with the 29-year-old scoring in each of Schalke’s three Champions League fixtures.

In contrast to their opponents, Arsenal have endured an indifferent start to the season with Arsene Wenger’s men losing to Manchester United 2-1 on Saturday in a game where they created little going forward.

Tuesday’s game could spell the return to European football for midfielder Jack Wilshere after a long spell out with injury.

Wenger is likely to deploy the 20-year-old against Schalke after he was red-carded against United which will see him miss Arsenal’s next Premier League game against Fulham.

Theo Walcott will also be hoping for a return to the starting line-up after he was left out on the weekend despite scoring a hat-trick in Arsenal’s 7-5 win over Reading in the Capital One Cup last week.

The England international missed the home fixture against Schalke due to a chest injury.

In the group’s other game, bottom-placed Montpellier travel to Greece to take on Olympiakos in desperate need of a win to keep their ailing Champions League campaign alive.

The French side are yet to win in this year’s competition, with their only point coming in a 2-2 draw with Schalke on matchday two, and require victory over the Greeks to give them any chance of progressing to the next stage.

Rene Girard’s men currently sit a disappointing 14th on the Ligue 1 table and will go into the game off the back of a 1-1 draw with lowly Troyes.

They will come up against an Olympiakos side that are three points behind Arsenal following their 2-1 win over Montpellier on matchday three.

Leonardo Jardim’s side are undefeated in the Super League this season, scoring an ominous 22 goals from their nine games with Algerian striker Rafik Djebbour netting eight of them.

However, the home side are yet to beat a French side in Greece after four attempts and will be hoping to reverse this trend as they seek a win that will keep them in the hunt of a top-two finish and qualification into the round of 16 for the first time since the 2009/10 season.

Champions League Group A preview: Porto eye progression

5 November 2012 01:56

A point will be enough to seal Porto’s passage out of the group stage when they take on Dynamo Kyiv at the Stadion Maksimir on Tuesday.

The Portuguese league leaders are yet to beaten in any competition this season and will head into the game full of confidence after demolishing Maritimo 5-0 in the Primera Liga on Friday in a game that saw Jackson Martinez and James Rodriquez each score a double.

The Colombian pair have scored 13 goals between them this season and Kyiv will be hard-pressed to stem their goal-scoring tide.

The Ukrainian outfit is all too aware of the danger Martinez poses with the 26-year-old scoring two memorable goals in Porto’s 3-2 victory over Dynamo at the Estadio do Dragao on matchday three.

However, the away side may be without first-choice left back Alex Sandro with the Brazilian still recovering from a thigh injury he received in early October against Sporting Lisbon.

Kyiv will be hoping to collect maximum points from the home tie in order to keep pace with second-placed Paris St Germain.

Oleh Blokhin’s men are three points behind the French side after enjoying just one win so far, a 2-0 result over Dinamo Zagreb on matchday two.

The Ukrainian side, who finished runners up in the Ukrainian Premier League last season, snapped a five-game winless streak on the weekend with a 2-0 win over Tavriya but will face a much tougher task against a rampant Porto side.

In the group’s other game, PSG will face Dinamo Zagreb in their home return leg after comfortably overcoming the Croatian team 2-0 on matchday three.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are on top of Ligue 1 after a blistering start to the season but suffered a surprise 2-1 defeat to St Etienne on the weekend in a game which saw star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic sent off and they will be hoping to bounce back against Dinamo.

Nothing less than a win will suffice for Ante Cacic’s men after they failed to pick up a single point from their opening three group stage games.

History is against the Croatian champions with Dinamo only recording one victory in seven visits to France with their solitary win coming over 20 years ago.

The away side’s task will be made even harder with hardly any support coming from the stands after Dinamo fans were banned from travelling to Paris by the French interior ministry due to concerns over crowd violence.

Brazil Serie A wrap: Fluminense held by Sao Paulo

5 November 2012 01:27

League leaders Fluminense FC had to settle for a draw in Brazilian Serie A action on Sunday, while second-placed Atletico MG were beaten.

Fluminense travelled to Sao Paulo looking to increase their already healthy advantage on top of the table, but were held to a 1-1 draw by the fourth-placed side.

Veteran striker Luis Fabiano put Sao Paulo ahead just after the half-time break, but Fred equalised for Fluminense FC on 67 minutes as the title elects began to assert their dominance.

But a winner could not be found as both sides had to settle for a point.

Fluminense FC remain nine points clear on top of the table, while Sao Paulo are fourth.

Meanwhile, Deivid scored the only goal of the game from the penalty spot as Coritiba FBC defeated Atletico MG 1-0.

The prolific forward converted from the spot in the ninth minute as Coritiba moved up to 10th place on the table and Atletico MG stayed second.

In other matches on Sunday, Sport won 3-0 at CR Vasco da Gama, Corinthians picked up a 2-0 victory on the road at Goianiense, Nautico triumphed 3-0 at home against Internacional, Bahia had Rodrigo Souza to thank for their 1-0 win at Portuguesa de Desportos, while Palmeiras and Botafogo played out an entertaining 2-2 draw.

Ligue 1 wrap: Marseille break Ajaccio resolve

5 November 2012 01:00

Marseille moved level with PSG on top of the Ligue 1 table with a victory over AC Ajaccio on Sunday, while Lyon won their clash with Bastia.

AC Ajaccio kept Marseille at bay for the entire first half, until Andre Ayew put Marseille ahead early in the second half.

The Ghanaian struck in the 55th minute with his first Ligue 1 goal of the season, taking advantage of a defensive lapse by Mehdi Mostefa.

Despite Ajaccio resistance, it would be substitute and younger brother Jordan Ayew who sealed the win three minutes from the end as Marseille triumphed 2-0.

Marseille are now equal with PSG at the summit of Ligue 1 with 22 points and also have the bonus of a game in hand.

Meanwhile, Lyon came out on top in a thrilling 5-2 victory over a spirited Bastia side at Stade Gerland as the match ended with two red cards and three penalties.

Yoann Gourcuff returned to star for the hosts, in his first league start since mid-August, and proved to be the difference as Lyon surged to a 2-0 lead thanks to Maxime Gonalons, and a fantastic strike by Alexandre Lacazette.

Chaos ensued as Bastia roared back.

Firstly, Wahib Khazri immediately reduced the deficit, after converting from Yannick Cahuzac’s weighted pass, before Dejan Lovren saw red for bringing down Florian Thauvin seconds later, as Jerome Rothen tucked away the penalty to make it 2-2.

In the second half, Fathi Harek was shown a second yellow after being stretchered off after causing himself injury in the foul on Lacazette, before Lisandro made it 3-2 from the spot.

Jimmy Briand struck Lyon’s fourth and another penalty from Steed Malbranque – both in stoppage time – ensured an entertaining win for Lyon ahead of their Europa League clash against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.

And finally, Toulouse missed the chance to join Marseille and PSG at the top of the table, as they were beaten 1-0 by Bordeaux in a dull Garonne derby.

Jaroslav Plasil and Benoit Tremoulinas were the liveliest players in a competitive first half, which only sprung into action when Ali Ahamada produced a fine double stop to deny Gregory Sertic.

After the break, the game was noticeably cagey, though Etienne Capoue was defensively solid in denying Bordeaux.

Yann Gouffran tested Ahamada, before finally beating the France under-21 goalkeeper late on, latching onto Plasil’s measured pass in the 87th minute to steal victory.

Bordeaux focus now on Europa League duty against Maritimo, while Alain Casanova will lament his side’s late capitulation.

La Liga wrap: Deportivo exit bottom three

5 November 2012 00:26

Deportivo La Coruna moved out of the relegation zone after they beat Mallorca 1-0 at the Estadio Riazor on Sunday.

Portuguese striker Bruno Gama’s goal in the 30th minute was enough to get the home side over the line with the result moving them one point clear of 18th-placed Espanyol.

A first-half double from Athletic Bilbao striker Aduriz gave his side their third win of the season as they defeated Granada 2-1.

Aduriz struck from the penalty spot in the 13th minute before doubling his tally after 27 minutes.

Youssef el Arabi gave the home side hope with a goal eight minutes into the second half but they could not find another as Bilbao held on for the win.

Real Valladolid ended their three-game winless streak after they defeated bottom side Osasuna 1-0 away from home.

German striker Patrick Ebert popped up in the 83rd minute to score the decisive goal.

In the day’s other game, Sevilla and Levante played out a 0-0 draw.