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Toure de force

Niall previews the British clubs' Champions League ties

Features - Niall Quinn Posted 1st October 2012 view comments

The Champions League returns to your screens this week with the second round of group stage matches.

Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea and Celtic each got at least one point on the board in the opening set of fixtures and will continue their quest for a knockout berth when they tackle Olympiakos, CFR Cluj, FC Nordsjaelland and Spartak Moscow respectively.

Big presence: Toure is City's go-to man in terms of strife, says Niall

Big presence: Toure is City's go-to man in terms of strife, says Niall

Man City, however, were conquered by Real Madrid on Matchday One and will be intent on defeating Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday to get their campaign up and running.

Sky Sports pundit Niall Quinn gives his take on how the British contingent might fare...

Spartak Moscow v Celtic, 4.55pm, Tue, Sky Sports 2 HD

This game will be really difficult for Celtic. The old Eastern Bloc countries, particularly the Russian ones, are really starting to emerge as a footballing force. The Russian league now runs parallel with the other European leagues and with the World Cup coming there in 2018, their teams should continue to develop.

Celtic will come up against former Hoops favourite Aiden McGeady on Tuesday night; everyone knows about Aiden's football ability and the tricks he has up his sleeve and he could be a real thorn in Neil Lennon's men's side.

He is an old-fashioned winger, gets to the by-line and puts crosses in and I can remember when he played excellently for Celtic against Barcelona a couple of years ago and probably put in his finest performance in green and white shirt.

Spartak gave Barcelona a real scare in the Camp Nou a couple of weeks ago and I think the best Celtic can hope for, if their rearguard holds out, is a draw - but I think Spartak will be too strong.

NIALL PREDICTS: SPARTAK MOSCOW

FC Nordsjaelland v Chelsea, 7pm, Tue, Sky Sports 2 HD

FC Nordsjaelland are not a team that many fans will be too familiar with but I am sure Chelsea will be informed as to the Danes' strengths and weaknesses which should ensure that they are not caught on the hop.

It might take Chelsea a little while to feel themselves into the game but you wouldn't think it would be the most hostile environment and I think they will come through okay, despite being away from home.

Chelsea showed against Arsenal and Stoke recently that they still have their old grit, but they also have more creativity now with Juan Mata, Eden Hazard and Oscar pulling the strings just behind Fernando Torres.

The Blues had a terrific end to last season and they have had a wonderful start to this one. Their success should continue this week.

NIALL PREDICTS: CHELSEA

CFR Cluj v Man United

It is fantastic for Cluj to be in the Champions League and to draw a glamour side like Man United is even better.

There is going to be a huge partisan crowd in Romania and plenty of excitement but if United weather that early exuberance, something they are past masters at, they should come out on top.

As United are away from home, Sir Alex Ferguson could adopt a more cautious approach, but equally it could be a perfect game for Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney to strike up their partnership.

We are all excited to see what they will achieve in tandem and they could cause Cluj's defence endless problems in midweek.

NIALL PREDICTS: MAN UNITED

Man City v Borussia Dortmund, 6pm, Wed, Sky Sports 2 HD and Sky 3D

It was an awful shame what happened to City in Madrid a couple of weeks ago and it really knocked them; you could see that during their game with Arsenal the following Sunday.

City must now get their Champions League challenge back on track but they didn't do much wrong at the Bernabeu, the toughest cauldron of them all, so I imagine they will play a very similar team.

Yaya Toure could make the difference as when the going gets tough he stands up and is counted. He leads by example with his marauding runs and will have to dominate the midfield area if City are to get that all-important victory.

City are not firing on all cylinders, there is no point pretending that they are, and Dortmund will present a tough test - but City HAVE to win and I think they will.

NIALL PREDICTS: MAN CITY

Arsenal v Olympiakos, 7.30pm, Wed, Sky Sports 4 HD

When Arsenal conceded their first goal against Chelsea at the weekend, you could have driven a bus through the gap in the defence. They will have to tighten that up, but as long as they do I think they will have enough to get a result against Olympiakos

Arsenal will be missing Abou Diaby through injury and the central midfield area could, therefore, be somewhere where Olympiakos try to dominate, but the Greek way is to be quite defensive away from home and I am not sure they will change from that, in spite of Chelsea's triumph at the Emirates.

Gervinho could play a key role and Arsene Wenger obviously has a lot of faith in him. The Ivorian plays at 100mph and sometimes, like against Man City, it doesn't happen for him; he takes heavy touches and picks the wrong option.

But he is always working hard and making himself available and he has started to find the net. Hopefully he can now become a fantastic player for Arsenal and these are the competitions where you earn that reputation.

NIALL PREDICTS: ARSENAL

Don't forget to tune in to our interactive commentary with comment from the Sky Sports experts and access to the games via our Events Centre by visiting www.skysports.com/championsleague

Comments (1)

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Dom Gibbs (Manchester United fan) says...

Man united to win emphatically, with van Persie and Rooney playing well together. Chelsea to go 1 down but come back to win 3-1 with Torres scoring. Arsenal to play badly but scrape a 2-0 win. Man city to struggle and hang on to a point.

Posted 16:39 1st October 2012

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