Zenit St. Petersburg and AS Monaco played to a draw at Petrovski Stadium, remaining side-by-side on four points when the dust settled. Zenit would create 13 chances on goal compared to Monaco’s nine, but the hosts couldn’t find the back of the net and were forced to split the points. Bayer Leverkusen, coming off a tough loss in their first match, flipped the script on Benfica in a 3-1 victory on Wednesday. Stefan Kiessling netted the first goal 25 minutes into the match, Son Heung-Min added another a dozen or so minutes from halftime for a 2-0 lead. Benfica pulled one back in the 62nd minute, only to concede a spot kick two minutes later and allow Bayer to restore the two-goal lead.
That loss effectively puts Benfica in a bind. With a negative-four goal differential, the Portuguese side is getting quickly to the point where only victories will help. They unfortunately have to travel to Monaco on October 22, a tough task awaiting. The Russian club, meanwhile, must make a tough road trip to Germany to face a rising Leverkusen squad. Barring a Benfica victory, though, the hierarchy will likely remain the same until the knockout stage begins.
PREDICTED FINISH: AS Monaco, Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Benfica
Arsenal may have lost to Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener, but the Londoners still seem like the second-best team in the group. The Gunners trounced Galatasaray at home 4-1, in large part thanks to a Danny Welbeck hat trick. Welbeck struck two goals in the first 30 minutes and added his third less than 10 minutes after the intermission, making Burak Yilmaz’s successful penalty kick a mere formality. Borussia, meanwhile, remained perfect in group play with a 3-0 rout away from home of overmatched Anderlecht. The Belgians were shelled early and often, with the hosts allowing 18 offensive chances and nine shots on target, while generating little offense of their own.
Borussia Dortmund might always remain second fiddle to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, but Jurgen Klopp’s side has proven time and time again that being second-best in Germany still means being among the 16 best clubs on the continent more often than not. The Germans should easily take top honors in the group, while Anderlecht and Galatasaray are highly unlikely to be able to eliminate Arsenal from the equation. Galatasaray will host Borussia and Arsenal heads to Anderlecht on October 22.
PREDICTED FINISH: Borussia Dortmund, Arsenal, Galatasaray, Anderlecht