UEFA Champions League - Match Day Two
The group stage process continues on Wednesday as Europe's top clubs attempt to match the amount of entertainment that was witnessed on Tuesday. The card is highlighted by such powers as PSG, Liverpool and Barcelona, who all each have grand visions of lifting the finals trophy at the end of this grueling journey.
Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Dortmund and Schalke are all second tier squads who feel they are also serious contenders and the urgency to collect points in each of their remaining matches will be a top priority, as they all seek a deep run in this seasons Champions League format.
20410 Borussia Dortmund vs 20411 Monaco
Westfalenstadion, Dortmund, Germany
10-03-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
The re-match of the 2016-2017 quarter finals takes place on Wednesday, with these two European powers crossing paths once again in what should be a tremendous spectacle for all footballing fans to witness.
Borussia Dortmund have been less than formidable on the Champions League stage for the past few seasons, but this year feels different with a new brand of energy and confidence flowing throughout the club.
Lucien Favre was brought back to the Bundesliga after a short spell in France. The Swiss head-man is quite familiar with the league after several successful campaigns with Borussia Monchengladbach, where he routinely led his sides to top finishes in the top flight table. Favre has once again went straight to work, leading the "BVB" to the top of their domestic league. Now with the opportunity to have a strong showing on multiple fronts, his managerial tactics will be on full display.
The Germans are on their fourth different manager in less than two years, and with several different coaching philosophies being implemented during that span, Dortmund have had to adjust to multiple formations and styles of play. Favre is no different, he has preferred his own version of a 4-2-3-1 alignment, with an assortment of multi-dimensional midfielders who set the tone in the attacking half of the pitch and a dedicated striker to finish the final product.
USMNT member Christian Pulisic is flourishing under his new manager's vision. The teenage sensation has always been ultra-talented, but he is now being asked to carry out more responsibilities on the pitch. Pulisic has always been a natural play-maker who enjoys involving his fellow front-line players. He is now looking to score more in his new role. The young American continues to shine as a professional and with this platform, his star can only continue to grow brighter.
There are an embarrassment of riches within Dortmund's midfield. German International Marco Reus has resumed his spot in the starting eleven, after yet another injury plagued 2017-2018 season, Reus has returned with a vengeance. Now the main facilitator within the BVB plan of attack, he is also finding the back of the net on a more routine basis. Reus's all-around game is also continuing to elevate with consistent minutes played.
The acquisitions of Axel Witsel and Thomas Delaney have been invaluable, as the veteran partnership have brought some much needed stability to this normally youthful side. The combination offer a true professionalism on the defensive side of the pitch, while also having unique skills to set the offense into motion with precise passing, their through and long balls can slice a defense in half at the blink of an eye, making their contributions major components of a sustained European run.
Dortmund also enter the tournament having found a new scoring weapon. Paco Alcácer has stepped out as a real force in front of goal. The Barcelona loanee has already netted three goals in just two league appearances, and now he is in favor to lead the line for the BVB as their dedicated number-nine, as he looks to continue his torrid pace as part of this dynamic attacking machine.
Monaco travel to Germany off a humbling 1-2 loss to Spanish side Atletico Madrid. After taking the early lead the French unit were shut down and proved to be inferior to the powerful La Liga representatives. The French outfit have also struggled domestically, as their successful blueprint seems to be coming apart at the seams.
Leonardo Jardim has insisted his system will always be more important than the players in the squad. The Portuguese has been a steady seller during the transfer window, but this season his philosophy seems to be backfiring, as "Les Monégasques" have opened the new year with a overall record of 1-3-6 in all competitions.
Jardim has had great success within his own 4-2-3-1 shape, with Colombian marksman Radamel Falcao the main vocal point in attack. 'El Tigre' is a rare hold-over from their domestic winning team. He is a feared danger-man throughout Europe, his rare finishing abilities have made him a valued commodity on the south of France, and on Wednesday he will be called upon more than ever, to help keep this struggling Ligue One side in Champions League contention.
To be fair, Jardim has had a rash of injuries to key positions. Now the likes of Nacer Chadli, Benjamin Henrichs and Aleksandr Golovin should all be called upon to help carry the load. With overall depth and talent, all in question at this stage of the proceedings, there will be a challenge to compete in each match they encounter as the tournament progresses.
Monaco seem to be a shell of themselves during this new campaign and their recent play has been less than pleasing to watch. After several seasons of defying all odds, they seem to be coming back down to to earth. This group is very unforgiving and should prove to get tougher over the course of the next few months. The French outfit will certainly have a important choice to make, if they want to keep their focus on European competitions, or just concentrate on turning their domestic campaign around.
Dortmund vs Monaco - Match Prediction
Dortmund are simply flying going into this match day two contest, failing to taste defeat during this new season, while hitting the back of the net on a routine basis, already scoring 26 goals in their first seven set of competitions, for an average of 3.7 goals per match over that span of play.
Monaco on the other hand are surprisingly struggling to even get on the score-line. After several years of offering a fluent offensive attack, there has been a real lack of firepower on the front-line, with the French-men only netting four goals over their last five matches, for a pedestrian average of 0.8 goals per match over that disappointing stretch of fixtures.
The visitors also start the match-day with a lengthy list of negative trends during UEFA play. The French-men have lost five of the last six European matches, while also conceding a minimum of two goals over that same dreadful stretch.
Dortmund are playing with a large amount of confidence these days and on Wednesday they should be highly motivated to show their true class against a struggling Monaco squad. I expect the hosts to keep their potent offense flowing, as they once again score multiple goals in route to another convincing victory in front of the yellow wall.
Dortmund vs Monaco - Match Tips
Dortmund -0.5 -120 / 1.83 - 1st Half Spread
Dortmund -1.5 -110 / 1.91 - Full Time Spread
Dortmund - Team Total Over 2.5 +110 / 2.1 - Goals
Dortmund - To Score In Both Halves - YES -115 / 1.87
Dortmund 3 - Monaco 1
20404 PSG vs 20405 Red Star Belgrade
10-03-2018 - 12:55 pm ET
Over 1.5 -125 / 1.8 - Total 1st Half Goals
Over 3.5 -135 / 1.74 - Total Full Time Goals
PSG - Team Total Over 3.5 -110 / 1.91 - Goals <
PSG 4 - Red Star Belgrade 0
20422 Atletico Madrid vs 20423 Club Brugge
10-03-2018 - 3:00 pm ET
Over 1 -135 / 1.74 - Total 1st Half Goal
Atletico Madrid -0.5 -120 / 1.83 - 1st Half Spread
Atletico Madrid -1.5 -110 / 1.91 - Full Time Spread
Atletico Madrid 2 - Club Brugge 0