Champions League score picks, predictions: Xaxi, Barcelona battle Bayern Munich with no margin for error

It may be hard to believe, but Champions League Matchday 5 is already here. Just six points remain for teams to punch their tickets to the knockout stages, and numerous big clubs like Barcelona and Juventus find themselves in complicated situations. More spots in the next round will be secured this week, but entering these matches only Napoli, Club Brugge, Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Manchester City have clinched.

As always CBS Sports and Paramount+ will be your home for all things UCL, starting with UEFA Champions League Today airing at 12:30 p.m. ET and at 2 p.m. ET ahead of the 3 p.m. kickoffs. Don’t forget to catch the studio show — Kate Abdo, Micah Richards, Thierry Henry, Jamie Carragher and Peter Schmeichel — out in New York for “Destination Brooklyn” at Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2.

CBS Sports has a brand new daily soccer podcast, covering everything you need to know about the beautiful game. Make sure to give House of Champions a follow for coverage of the biggest games, stories, transfer news with Fabrizio Romano, and everything else going on in the world’s most popular sport.

Here’s our predictions for each match and more: 

Tuesday’s broadcast schedule

Wednesday’s broadcast schedule

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RB Salzburg vs. Chelsea

One matchup to watch: Noah Okafor vs. Trevoh Chalobah. Okafor is the latest off the Salzburg production line, a dazzling young forward who you could certainly imagine will be moving on to another league this January. Still Chelsea’s back line is probably their strong point and, having shown the burst on the ground to quell Marcus Rashford, Chalobah will look to continue what has been an exceptional run of performances for him. – James Benge

Most likely to score a goal: Mason Mount. Frankly, I’m not convinced anyone is scoring in this game with Chelsea’s attack needing a bit more fizz under Potter. Still, it is in those sorts of fiddly, nervy games that Mount delivers for his teammates. – James Benge

Man of the Match pick: Kepa Arrizabalaga. The Spaniard is on his comeback season and has not just become an adequate Premier League goalkeeper, he is playing with a swagger and belief that would have been unimaginable even at the start of the season. Chelsea are going to come under pressure in Austria. Kepa can be trusted to deliver. – James Benge

Match prediction: Salzburg 0, Chelsea 0. The Blues are tough to break down even if their attack hasn’t really clicked into gear. A point might suit the Austrian champions too. – James Benge

Featured Game | Salzburg vs. Chelsea

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Maccabi Haifa

One matchup to watch: Fabian Ruiz vs. Dolev Haziza. The Spaniard is growing in importance for PSG while the Israeli have proved to be a creative hub for Haifa and already notched an assist in the first meeting. If the hosts can shut down Haziza, they will likely stop service from reaching the likes of Frantzdy Pierrot. Scoring at least a goal or two should not be an issue for PSG here. – Jonathan Johnson

Most likely to score a goal: Lionel Messi. His superb form continued away at Ajaccio and the legendary Argentine just won the latest Ligue 1 Player of the Month award. Performing much better in his second season with PSG, he is much more of a goal threat than ever before with the French champions. – Jonathan Johnson

Man of the Match pick: Kylian Mbappe. This one feels like the sort of match Mbappe will dominate from start to finish. He was in hot form against Ajaccio and will want to continue that here. Expect a few goals from the French superstar as PSG try to move away from the recent controversy. – Jonathan Johnson

Match prediction: PSG 4, Maccabi Haifa 1.  The home side should win this comfortably. Although Haifa will likely resist early on, PSG’s attack should have too much for their visitors and could rack up a few goals. Messi, Mbappe and Neymar will all fancy their chances of success in front of goal and Sergio Ramos’ availability after domestic suspension will boost the back line. – Jonathan Johnson

Featured Game | Paris vs. Maccabi Haifa

Borussia Dortmund vs. Manchester City

One matchup to watch: Niklas Süle vs. Erling Haaland. This will be the most interesting duel of the game, considering that this will be the day of the comeback of Haaland to Dortmund after he left German soccer in the summer. All the eyes and attention will be on the Norwegian striker, while the former Bayern Munich defender will try to stop him. A difficult job for him. – Francesco Porzio

Most likely to score a goal: Haaland. Who else? In the first 15 matches of the season, he already scored 22 goals, including five in the first three Champions League matches (didn’t play the last one vs. Copenhagen). In the first match against BVB he scored the deciding goal of the match and all the odds are on him to score again — this time away at his former stadium against his former club. – Francesco Porzio

Man of the Match pick: Phil Foden. His performances have been really solid in the first part of the season despite the fact Haaland took all the headlines for his incredible amount of goals. His impact on the tactics of Pep Guardiola has been even more crucial this year. – Francesco Porzio

Match prediction: Borussia Dortmund 0, Manchester City 2.  The away team should win this one pretty easily even if BVB need to score at least one point to qualify for the round of 16, while Manchester City have already secured their spot in the next round. – Francesco Porzio

Featured Game | Borussia Dortmund vs. Manchester City

Barcelona vs. Bayern Munich

One matchup to watch: Robert Lewandowski vs. Dayot Upamecano. The Barcelona striker goes up against his former team and is in need of a victory. It’s hard to see that even coming close to happening if he fails to score. The Polish superstar will need to be at his best and get the required service for Barcelona to have any chance of taking the points. – Roger Gonzalez

Most likely to score a goal: Sadio Mane. We have to remember that Barcelona’s defense is battered and has been dealing with numerous injuries. Combine that with a match where we know the Spanish club have to get forward, and this has all the makings of a Mane run in behind to put this one to bed. – Roger Gonzalez

Man of the Match pick: Leon Goretzka. The talented midfielder will dish a delightful assist to lock in a positive result and boss the midfield with his physicality. – Roger Gonzalez

Match prediction: Barcelona 2, Bayern Munich 2. Barca end up crashing out of the group stage, but even before this game with an Inter Milan win with Viktoria Plzen. Still looking for a positive result, they produce in attack but the defenses lapses remain. – Roger Gonzalez

Featured Game | Barcelona vs. Bayern Munchen

Ajax vs. Liverpool

One matchup to watch: Mohamed Salah vs. Calvin Bassey. Salah has been another player during Champions League play, leading Liverpool to victory with five goals in the competition. After scoring the quickest hat trick in Champions League history, the Ajax outside back will have quite a challenge slowing the Egyptian down. In a game that Ajax needs to win in order to stay in contention for the knockout stages of the tournament, stopping attacks from wide will be critical.  – Chuck Booth

Most likely to score a goal: Darwin Nunez or Roberto Firmino. While it’s up in the air if Jurgen Klopp will start Nunez after his hamstring injury, the form of both of his forwards has been impressive as of late. Firmino has been ever present scoring eight goals and assisting four in all competitions. Nunez has scored in three of his last four appearances for the Reds so no matter who leads the line, Ajax will have a hard time stopping them from hitting the back of the net. – Chuck Booth

Man of the Match pick: Thiago.  After missing Liverpool’s weekend match with an ear infection, the return of Thiago will restore balance to the midfield. Picking up an assist while driving Liverpool forward, a classy performance from Thiago will be enough to earn man of the match honors. – Chuck Booth

Match prediction: Ajax 1, Liverpool 3.  The Liverpool attack is too much for Ajax to cope with as the Dutch side has been overmatched in Champions League play so far this season. Ajax will need to hope for a Europa League berth as Liverpool book their tickets to the last 16. – Chuck Booth

Latest Odds:


Tottenham vs. Sporting

One matchup to watch: Marcus Edwards vs. the Spurs defense. With Edwards making his return to London to face his former team, he’ll have a tough job leading the Sporting attack in the absence of Pedro Goncalves. With the winger out due to suspension, it will be on Edwards to create his own chances through the middle and Antonio Conte’s defense has allowed those chances this season. If he can take advantage of Spurs collapsing on defense, Sporting can put themselves in a good spot to win the group. – Chuck Booth

Most likely to score a goal: Harry Kane. The Spurs striker has been unstoppable this season scoring 11 goals in all competitions. While he hasn’t brought the same level of scoring to Champions League play that he has to Premier League play, with only one goal in continental competition, Sporting being shorthanded will give Kane space to work in. In a big match, Spurs will be leaning on Kane. – Chuck Booth

Man of the Match pick: Ivan Perisic. While Perisic hasn’t been great defensively, that’s not why Conte brought him to Spurs. Laying on a couple assists in the match, Perisic’s passing ability will be on full display as Spurs take control in Group D. – Chuck Booth

Match prediction: Tottenham 2, Sporting 1.  Spurs will make it a closer match than it needs to be but Kane and Perisic’s performance will be just enough to see off an undermanned Sporting side. – Chuck Booth

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