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Champions League: Trabzonspor's First European Campaign, Diego Forlan Cup Tied and Bayern Munich's Goal Scoring Machine

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We've already taken a look at some of the interesting match-ups of groups E through H, so that means it's time to take a gander at some of the interesting match-ups in groups A-D. Many of these clubs are embedded in European history with many Championship wins and losses.

After the jump, I will break down what I think are three of the more interesting matches in these sets of groups.


Ajax vs Lyon

Notables:

  • Ajax are on a quest for the clubs fifth Champions League Trophy. They dominated in the 70s, from 1970 to 1973. However, there has been a drought recently--their last title was in the 1994-1995 tournament.
  • Ajax runs out a 4-3-3 formation with more of a CDM than a CAM. They come into Champions League play unbeaten in the Eredivise with a 4-1-0 record.
  • Lyon had to go through the qualification stage to reach Champions League play beating Rubin Kazan. This is also the second year in a row they've been in the same group with Real Madrid. This is also their eighth straight year playing European football.
  • Lyon has been hit by the injury bug this year and currently have four players out, two of which are most likely out for the season. However, they come into the tournament with a current domestic record of 3-2-0.

Villarreal vs Bayern Munich

Notables:

  • Like Ajax, Bayern Munich are looking for their fifth European trophy, with their last one in 2000-1001. In that year they faced Valencia CF. The match went into Penalties, and Bayern Munich pulled out the win 5-4.
  • Group A is an interesting one, as three of the four teams all have a legitimate chance to advance. But only two can make it out of the group stage, so this might be one of the groups to really keep an eye on.
  • Villarreal have yet to notch a win in la Liga after the first two fixtures. They got pasted by FC Barcelona in the first match of the season 5-0, and then went on draw nil - nil with Sevilla. While there have only been two matches, Villarreal have trouble holding on to the ball--they have an average possession of 35 percent.
  • Villarreal are unbeaten at home in their last 11 Champions League matches with a record of 4-7-0.
  • Bayern Munich come in on a roll, with a 4-0-1 record in their first five fixtures. Collecting 14 goals in that span, Mario Gomez leads the team with eight goals and tied for the team lead in assists with two.
  • On the tactics end of things, Bayern Munich will most likely come out with a 4-3-2-1 formation with leading goal scorer Mario Gomez as the lone striker. Villarreal, on the other hand, could come out with their own 4-3-2-1 or a 4-4-2 (which they used against FC Barcelona--and we see where that got them). If they do use the 4-3-2-1, look for Giuseppe Rossi to be up top as the loan striker.

Inter Milan vs Trabzonspor

Notables:

  • This will be Inter's 10th consecutive Champions League appearance, leading all Italian sides.
  • Trabzonspor are making their first Champions League appearance. They are in the Champions League due to Fenerbahce's disqualification because of match fixing allegations.
  • Diego Forlan for Inter Milan is cup tied until the knockout rounds. The former Atlético striker appeared for his former la Liga side in the qualifying stages.
  • Trabzonspor Manager Senol Gunes is serving a touchline ban and will have to watch from the stands (which seems to be a growing theme among teams this time around).
  • Inter Milan are missing several key players, mostly on defense, which could be the reason why they conceded four in their last domestic match. But, it should be enough to handle a weaker Turkish side. CAM Wesley Sneijder should be back in the starting line up, after starting on the bench in their last match.
  • Two other players are serving suspensions as well for the Turkish side, including Burak Yilmaz Trabzonspor's lead striker. He has a three match suspension.
  • As far as tactics go, Inter favor a 3-4-3, but due to the injuries of key defensive players, you could see a 4-3-3 or a 4-3-1-2. Trabzonspor will run out a 4-3-2-1 formation.

Predictions

Winners in BOLD

Ajax vs Lyon
2-1 Ajax

Villarreal vs Bayern Munich
4-0 Bayern Munich

Inter Milan vs Trabzonspor
3-1 Inter Milan

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