Arsenal players attend a team training session in London Colney, north of London September 17, 2012. Arsenal are due to play Montpellier HSC in a Champions League match in Montpellier, France on Tuesday.
(Photo : REUTERS/ Eddie Keogh (BRITAIN - Tags: SPORT SOCCER))
The first day of the Champions League gets underway this afternoon with four of the eight groups in action. Let's take a look at Group B.
Montpelier vs. Arsenal 2:45 PM ET
Montpelier has gotten off to a touch start in the French League while Arsenal has played up to expectations. These two should be considered the favorites for the group, but if Montpelier is not up to the level everyone expects from them this could be a tough tournament for the French. They were surprises French champions last season, so there is no doubt that maybe they have a few tricks up their sleeves for the UCL.
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The man in the spotlight will be Olivier Giroud who scored 21 goals for Montpelier last season but has yet to do anything for Arsenal. Despite his drought, the English side has plenty of talent led by Santi Cazorla. They will be with Vito Mannone in goal since Wojciech Szczesny is out with an ankle injury. This could level the field a bit more for Montpelier as Arsenal works to protect their keeper in what should be a high pressure match for him.
Edge: Montpelier has never been here before, but that simply means expectations may not be as high as they are for Arsenal. Without their number one keeper the English side has all the pressure to win on the road. But Arsenal has superior talent and should be counted on to win this one.
Prediction: 2-2 Draw.
Olympiakos vs. Schalke 04 2:45 PM ET
Last time the German side was at the UCL, they made it all the way to the semi-finals. Last time Olympiakos was at the UCL, they failed to get out of the group stage. Both sides will look to improve upon their last outings in what should be a battle of wills. Olympiakos is a stingy side with an emphasis on its defensive efforts while Schalke will look to pressure them time and again. However, their success last season was due mainly to the exploits of the legendary Raul Gonzalez. However, Raul is now gone and that void must now be filled up top. The Germans will surprisingly be led by Greek star Kyriakos Papdopoulos who was a star for the Greek national squad in 2007 and 2010.
This is the 14th appearance for Olympiacos in the tournament while it is only the 5th time Schalke has come to the UCL. The Greeks have experience and could be too much for the Germans on Greek territory.
Edge: This is probably more level than it seems. The German squad may be more attractive through, but the Greeks have more experience and are on home turf.
Prediction: Olympiacos win 3-2 ,