The second matchday of the 2023/24 Champions League starts tomorrow, October 3rd. The first matchday gave us a few surprises and a whole lot of goals, in classic Champions League fashion. This time around, we have even more interesting matches to discuss about, so let’s dive straight in! 

Napoli – Real Madrid, Tuesday 21:00 CET, San Paolo, Naples 

The reigning Italian champions face off against 14 –time Champions league winners Real Madrid on Tuesday evening. Both sides came away with very late victories in the first matchday against their respective rivals, not putting in entirely convincing performances.

Since then, both sides’ forms have been quite unsteady: Napoli drew away to newly promoted Genoa after winning big versus Udinese and Lecce recently. Real lost the Madrid derby away to Atletico but also defeated Las Palmas and Girona without conceding this past week. Bellingham and Osimhen continue to shine for their respective sides and will probably be the key to unlocking this game, although the return of Vini Jr to the starting lineup for Real Madrid is a more than welcome sight for Los Blancos.

This will be a hotly contested affair, as both sides will want to obtain first spot in this group: Napoli have scored 10 goals in their last 3 outings, so its plausible to incur that both sides will likely score, and there could be a mesmerizing back-and-forth between the sides. We predict a draw in this one, as the odds could not be more balanced, although we had to choose a winner, it’s hard to bet against Real. 

What to look out for: Both sides come into this match with their starting center back pairing unavailable: Militao is out for the season while Alaba will miss the trip to Southern Italy for Real. Napoli will have to fight against their opponents without the likes of Rrahmani and Jesus until the end of the month. 

Napoli to Win – 2.62 

Draw – 3.60 

Real Madrid to Win – 2.62 

Inter Milan – Benfica, Tuesday 21:00 CET, San Siro, Milan 

In a repeat of last year’s Quarterfinals clash, eventual finalists Inter Milan take on Portuguese champions Benfica at San Siro. This is a vital encounter for both sides, who failed to win on matchday 1, when Inter scored late against Real Sociedad to tie the game, while Benfica shot themselves in the foot and lost at home to Salzburg. Since then, Inter lost their first match this season against Sassuolo, but also managed to win two against lesser opponents without conceding.

On the other hand, Benfica this past weekend overcame Porto at home in the biggest game of the Portuguese season and will come to the San Siro on form and hoping to get a result. The arrival of Di Maria sparked Benfica’s attack, which needed rebuilding after the departure of Goncalo Ramos in the summer and could be the key to unlocking an Inter Milan backline that has only conceded 4 goals in all competitions so far this season.

While this could be a cagey affair considering the solidity of both defenses, Benfica are in need of a result, while Inter Milan showed last season that they are capable of defeating them, and we therefore give the Nerazzurri a slight edge against the Portuguese contingent. However, their lack of depth in front areas could have an impact, as Lautaro has essentially been a one-man wrecking crew so far, having already netted 10 goals this season. 

What to look out for: Inter will not have new signing Frattesi available in this one, meaning Mkhitaryan will occupy a midfield spot alongside Calhanoglu and Barella, who have been relatively uninspiring lately Benfica will only miss Antonio Silva at the back through suspension. 

Inter Milan to Win – 1.84 

Draw – 3.80 

Benfica to Win – 4.25 

Borussia Dortmund – AC Milan, Wednesday, 21:00 CET, Signal Iduna Park, Dortmund 

A fascinating clash between the Rossoneri and Dortmund will take place Wednesday under the Yellow Wall. Both teams failed to win on matchday 1, when Dortmund was well-beaten away at PSG, while Milan missed numerous chances to put Newcastle to the sword at home. AC Milan have been perfect since then, winning three in three in Serie A, with Dortmund doing the same domestically.

This could end up being the most intriguing encounter of matchday 2, as both sides play expansive football with fast paced players that love to dribble like Rafa Leao, Pulisic, Adeyemi and Brandt. Milan, however, are quite short in midfield, where injuries have hampered them in recent matches, meaning they may have to sit back and absorb before attacking on the counter, especially in a stadium where the atmosphere is so heavy.

This will be an interesting clash between two sides in dire need of points – especially in a group such as this one, but there is very little to separate the two. Playing “Both Teams to Score” is a good idea, considering the sides have been leaky at the back and exciting up front. If you feel like taking a risk, playing X2 on AC Milan might be an idea. 

What to look out for: AC Milan’s midfield will not feature Krunic, Bennacer or Loftus Cheek, while Dortmund is still missing Marcel Sabitzer, who arrived from Bayern in the summer, meaning a makeshift starting XI is inevitable for both, to some extent. 

Borussia to Win – 2.50 

Draw – 3.50 

AC Milan to Win – 2.80 

Newcastle United – PSG, Wednesday 21:00 CET, St. James Park, Newcastle 

The first Champions League match at St. James’ for over two decades features Newcastle taking on French giants PSG in what is sure to be a fascinating encounter. Newcastle have had a rocky first few matches this season, but have since then kept a clean sheet in their last 4 outings, including an 8-0 battering of Sheffield United and a win against Man City in the cup. The Champions League is a whole different animal however, and facing PSG’s front three will be a mighty challenge for Botman and co.

PSG comfortably beat Dortmund at home last time around, but have themselves started quite slowly in Ligue 1, where they sit in 5th place, albeit 2 points from top spot. Mbappe will look to impress, as he is still without a Champions League trophy, but getting past Newcastle’s staunch defense is a feat in itself, as AC Milan can attest. This is another hard-to-call encounter, but simply for the firepower in attack and the higher degree of experience in this competition, we’ll give PSG a very slight edge, although I wouldn’t be surprised if St. James’ atmosphere carried Newcastle to a result against the French contingent.

Playing Mbappe to score is an excellent choice, and likewise with Isak, who looks to be the player that decides important matches for Newcastle, such as the one against Man City in the Carabao Cup. 

What to look out for: Watch out for Mbappe playing on Trippier’s side. The Frenchman’s pace and finishing will cause havoc in the Newcastle backline if they don’t double up to contain him.  

Newcastle to Win – 2.60 

Draw – 3.75 

PSG to Win – 2.60 

RB Leipzig – Manchester City, Wednesday 21:00 CET, Red Bull Arena, Leipzig 

A bit of a weird game this one, as Manchester City arrive in Germany on the back of two straight defeats against Newcastle in the cup and at Wolves in the league, where they did not shine whatsoever. Leipzig, on the other hand, showed against Bayern in the recent 2-2 game that they won’t sit back and let the Bavarians run away with the title this season. Prior to this weekend, Leipzig went on a six-game winning streak that began in late August, during which they scored 18 times (averaging 3 goals a game).

One crucial factor that may play in Man City’s favor is the return of Rodri, who was sent off against in the Premier League last weekend and will miss next week’s clash versus Arsenal but is eligible to play in European competitions. The difference in midfield quality with or without him is staggering for the Citizens. Both teams are dealing with injury issues in other parts of the pitch as well. In last year’s R16 clash, Leipzig managed to subdue City at home and leave with a 1-1 result, only to be disintegrated by Halland’s 5 goals at the Etihad in the return fixture.

This match could very well be a balanced one with plenty of chances at both ends, and as much as we’d like to suggest a risky X2 on Leipzig (which we correctly predicted against Bayern this weekend –, Rodri’s return to the starting lineup convinces us that City will still be slight favorites in this one, although less than what the bookies make them out to be. 

What to look out for: Plenty of injuries for both parties: City will be without three starters in Bernardo Silva, Stones and De Bruyne, will Leipzig’s injured contingent include Timo Werner, Dani Olmo and Wili Orban. 

Leipzig to Win – 4.50 

Draw – 4.20 

Manchester City to Win – 1.75