The Champions League is again, and again with a bang, after the draw for the 2020-21 group stage concluded on Oct. 1 in Geneva. The highest line? A head-to-head between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi as Juventus and Barcelona are paired collectively in Group G, in a sport that would additionally see followers contained in the stadium after UEFA confirmed grounds will be as much as 30% full for fixtures if native laws allow.
The standout pairing of the group stage additionally boasts an American subplot, with U.S. teammates Weston McKennie and Sergino Dest dealing with off in opposition to one another.
Matchday 2 provides us the primary of two blockbuster group stage matches between Juventus and Barcelona, although it is unclear as but whether or not Ronaldo will go well with up given his current optimistic exams for the coronavirus.
Elsewhere, you’ve got obtained Atletico Madrid seeking to rebound from a heavy defeat to Bayern Munich in Group A, Manchester Metropolis and Pep Guardiola hoping to interrupt their hunch at Marseille in Group C, Ajax touring to Atalanta in a Group D match with loads of knockout-round implications, and an opportunity for Chelsea to finish their very own scoreless streak in a visit to Krasnodar in Group E. Dortmund and Actual Madrid, two of the stronger groups on this 12 months’s competitors, are additionally hoping to shrug off shock defeats to Lazio and Shakhtar Donetsk in matchday 1 and get into the wins column.
Editor’s word: This has been up to date because the group stage draw concluded on Oct. 1 in Geneva. Expanded group stage evaluation of matchday 2 is by Tom Hamilton.
Reigning champions Bayern Munich journey to Moscow off the again of a storming 5-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt on the weekend. Robert Lewandowski scored yet one more hat-trick to make it 10 objectives in 5 league video games for the season, whereas Leroy Sane and teenager Jamal Musiala additionally scored. Having gained their opening Champions League group match in opposition to Atletico Madrid 4-0 final week, Bayern are rumbling alongside properly however will likely be with out left-back Alphonso Davies, who suffered an ankle harm on Saturday.
Lokomotiv drew 2-2 at RB Salzburg of their first Group A match and misplaced at residence 2-1 to Rotor on Saturday, with Grzegorz Krychowiak despatched off. It was a poor end result provided that Rotor are firmly on the flawed finish of the Russian Premier League desk; Lokomotiv will not have it simple in opposition to Bayern on Tuesday evening. Count on a complete win for the German facet.
Steve Nicol praises Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski after his hat trick vs. Eintracht Frankfurt.
After they had been hammered within the opening spherical 4-0 at Bayern, the one approach is up for Diego Simeone’s males. They are going to come into this buoyed by their 2-0 win over Actual Betis on Saturday during which Marcos Llorente and Luis Suarez scored, however they are going to seemingly be with out Diego Costa and Saul Niguez for Tuesday.
Salzburg are tearing it up within the Austrian Bundesliga and gained 2-0 on the highway at Austria Wien on Saturday courtesy of objectives from Mergim Berisha and Patson Daka. They’re with out long-term absentee Antoine Bernede and can do properly to say something from an Atletico group that may choose aside most opponents.
Shakhtar pulled off the most important shock of matchday 1 once they gained 3-2 at Actual Madrid with Tete and Manor Solomon each scoring alongside a Raphael Varane personal objective. It was a outstanding efficiency from Luis Castro’s facet, however they stuttered at residence to Vorskla in a 1-1 draw on the weekend regardless of taking part in in opposition to 10 males for 37 minutes.
Antonio Conte’s Inter drew 2-2 with Borussia Monchengladbach of their Champions League Group B opener however obtained again on observe at Genoa on Saturday with Romelu Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio scoring of their 2-0 win. They’ve Ashley Younger, Milan Skriniar and Alexis Sanchez all out. This has “tense draw” written throughout it.
Ale Moreno says Actual Madrid’s “combating spirit” was the distinction of their 3-1 win over Barcelona in El Clasico.
Borussia proceed to play their approach into kind this season, profitable 3-2 at Mainz with Lars Stindl, Jonas Hofmann and Matthias Ginter all scoring. They sit fifth within the Bundesliga and are nonetheless with out Denis Zakaria for Tuesday’s match in opposition to an unpredictable Actual Madrid.
Actual gained 3-1 at Barcelona on Saturday within the first Clasico of the season with Federico Valverde, Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric all scoring. However the large information revolves round Eden Hazard‘s return to the squad whereas there are query marks over who performs at right-back with Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola and Nacho all injured. Ferland Mendy may deputise there, or they could go for Lucas Vazquez, who performed properly at right-back after coming off the bench Saturday.
It guarantees to be a cagey affair in Germany, however Ramos & Co. have sufficient class to rebound provided that they can not afford to lose any extra floor after matchday 1’s shock defeat.
Porto misplaced 3-1 at Manchester Metropolis final week, however managed to get a key 1-0 win throughout the road in opposition to Gil Vicente on Saturday because of Evanilson‘s objective, having been diminished to 10 males for the ultimate 16 minutes when Zaidu Sanusi was red-carded.
Olympiakos obtained their Champions League marketing campaign off to an outstanding begin, beating Marseille 1-0 because of Ahmed Mahgoub’s injury-time winner. They’d the weekend off and will likely be match and firing for his or her journey to Lisbon. We’re rooting for a stunning away win on this one.
Don Hutchison wonders if signing Harry Kane can repair Manchester Metropolis’s issues.
Andre Villas-Boas’ Marseille facet gained 1-0 at Lorient on Saturday because of Leonardo Balerdi‘s objective and have a completely match squad for once they welcome Pep Guardiola’s facet Tuesday night.
Manchester Metropolis’s stuttering begin to the 2020-21 season (by their excessive requirements, not less than) continued once they drew 1-1 at West Ham on Saturday, with substitute Phil Foden scoring the equaliser. Guardiola is underneath growing strain to decide on the place his future lies along with his contract up in eight months’ time, and his facet will journey to France with out Fernandinho (who was injured in opposition to Porto), Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy and Gabriel Jesus.
You would not wager in opposition to the guests taking all three factors, however Marseille have the nous to take advantage of what’s flawed with Man Metropolis in the intervening time.
Atalanta trounced Midtjylland 4-0 on Champions League matchday 1, however that triumph is sandwiched between two heavy defeats in Serie A. They misplaced at residence 3-1 to Sampdoria on Saturday, which adopted their 4-1 defeat at Napoli the earlier week. Gian Piero Gasperini’s facet will look to get again to profitable methods in opposition to Ajax however is not going to have it simple in opposition to the record-breakers.
Ajax gained 13-0 at VVV-Venlo on Saturday, a document triumph within the Eredivisie with Lassina Traore scoring 5 and Jurgen Ekkelenkamp and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar each grabbing braces. Having misplaced 1-0 at residence to Liverpool within the opening spherical, the Dutch giants know they’re going to want a win on the highway at Atalanta to maintain their Champions League prospects alive. Nevertheless, they are going to be with out new signing Mohammed Kudus, who picked up a nasty harm final week.
All indicators level to Atalanta rising on high.
Jurgen Klopp’s males proceed to seek out their approach with out talismanic defender Virgil van Dijk however will take coronary heart from their 2-1 win over Sheffield United at Anfield on Saturday during which Roberto Firmino opened his account for the season and Diego Jota scored the winner. Goalkeeper Alisson returned on the weekend however the Reds will likely be with out Joel Matip, Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita this week.
Midtjylland will likely be huge underdogs for his or her journey to Anfield and will likely be with out Jesper Hansen and Junior Brumado. However they gained 3-2 at Brondby on the weekend with Anders Dreyer and the sensible Pione Sisto each scoring, with their late winner coming courtesy of Marvin Schwabe’s 94th-minute personal objective.
All in all, we’re choosing a nervy however complete residence win for the Reds.
Russian facet Krasnodar earned a reputable 1-1 draw at Rennes of their Group E opener, however are nonetheless mid-table within the Russian Premier League having misplaced at residence 3-1 to Spartak Moscow on Saturday — a match that noticed Alyaksandr Martynovich despatched off.
Chelsea have gone two matches and not using a objective, having drawn 0-0 in opposition to Sevilla within the opening spherical and once more at Manchester United on Saturday. However aside from absentees Kepa Arrizabalaga and Billy Gilmour, they’ve a completely match squad, so anticipate to see extra of their summer season signings regulate to life underneath Frank Lampard.
This ought to be a sport that will get them into the win column for the primary time on this nascent Champions League 2020-21 marketing campaign.
Steve Nicol is baffled Chelsea weren’t awarded a penalty in a scoreless draw in opposition to Manchester United.
Sevilla’s level at Stamford Bridge on matchday 1 may show important within the eventual shakedown of the group, however they might want to choose themselves up after a shock 1-0 defeat at residence to Eibar on the weekend. And so they’ll be with out defender Jules Kounde — who’s on Manchester Metropolis’s radar — because of COVID-19.
Rennes would have hoped for higher than a 1-1 draw of their opening Champions League sport, and so they slumped to a 2-1 defeat at residence to Angers on Friday, so that they’ll should mud themselves down for the journey to Spain on Wednesday. They’re nonetheless with out Faitout Maouassa and M’Baye Niang.
Count on Sevilla to say all three factors given their wealth of expertise in Europe.
Membership Brugge’s spectacular 2-1 win on the highway in opposition to Zenit in Spherical 1 was tempered by their 2-1 defeat at Leuven on Saturday. Noa Lang‘s first-half penalty was not sufficient to see them residence, and so they’ll have to enhance in opposition to a Lazio facet who will likely be buoyed by their 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund within the opening spherical in Europe and their 2-1 win at Bologna on Saturday, the place Luis Alberto and Ciro Motionless scored.
Lazio will likely be with out Stefan Radu, Silvio Proto and Senad Lulic whereas Membership Brugge have Simon Mignolet uncertain because of COVID-19 check outcomes. All indicators level to an away win.
Steve Nicol believes Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland’s maturity is “uncommon” for a participant his age.
Dortmund took the Revierderby bragging rights on Saturday in a 3-0 win over Schalke, with Manuel Akanji, Erling Haaland and Mats Hummels all scoring. However they’re with out Emre Can for Wednesday’s match because of COVID-19 whereas Marcel Schmelzer and Dan-Axel Zagadou are additionally absent. They desperately want a win after dropping in Rome to Lazio final week.
For Zenit, they too urgently must get their marketing campaign again on observe after their shock opening-round defeat to Membership Brugge, and their 2-1 defeat on the weekend to Rubin Kazan didn’t assist. Douglas Santos is banned for Wednesday’s match whereas Malcom continues to be out injured.
On condition that each groups want the factors, we’re choosing Dortmund in a breezy, end-to-end affair.
The Hungarian facet Ferencvaros felt the total power of Barcelona within the opening week as they misplaced 5-1 at Camp Nou. However they dusted themselves down for Saturday’s match in opposition to Ujpest, the place they gained 2-0 because of objectives from Tokmac Nguen and Somalia, with Abraham Frimpong seeing pink.
Dynamo Kiev misplaced at residence to Juventus 2-0 within the first spherical of matches and narrowly edged previous Oleksandriya 1-0 on Saturday with Mykola Shaparenko getting despatched off. We anticipate Kiev to show too good for his or her hosts.
Ale Moreno praises the efficiency of Sergino Dest in his first-ever El Clasico regardless of Barcelona’s 3-1 defeat.
That is the match of the spherical, with everybody preserving fingers crossed we’ll see Cristiano Ronaldo arising in opposition to Lionel Messi. Ronaldo’s availability relies upon medical clearance following his optimistic COVID-19 check end result final week — he must return a adverse end result 24 hours earlier than kick-off on Wednesday evening to be allowed to play. With out Ronaldo, Juventus laboured to a 1-1 draw at residence to Verona on Sunday, with Dejan Kulusevski‘s objective securing the purpose.
Andrea Pirlo was lower than impressed along with his facet, saying the end result ought to function a “slap within the face.” They’re prone to even be with out veteran Giorgio Chiellini, Matthijs de Ligt and Alex Sandro.
Barcelona fell to fierce rivals Actual Madrid on Saturday at Camp Nou and will likely be determined to make amends for that Clasico defeat on the highway at Juventus. Messi’s match, however they’re with out Samuel Umtiti and Coutinho, whereas Marc-Andre ter Stegen can be prone to be absent. Gerard Pique additionally misses out by means of suspension, however they’ve Jordi Alba out there once more after his restoration from harm.
This one may genuinely go both approach, however possibly Barca will likely be appropriately steeled following the weekend letdown to take factors from their journey to Turin.
The Turkish facet misplaced at RB Leipzig 2-0 within the opening spherical because of Angelino‘s double however bounced again in type in opposition to Antalyaspor on the weekend, profitable 5-1 with Edin Visca‘s double serving to them to a snug victory. Okechukwu Azubuike is doubtful for Wednesday’s conflict in opposition to the Ligue 1 champions.
PSG have a rising harm listing with Idrissa Gueye, Leandro Paredes, Marco Verratti, Mauro Icardi, Thilo Kehrer and Juan Bernat all injured, and so they’ll nonetheless be smarting from their defeat to Manchester United in Spherical 1. However their 4-0 win over Dijon on Saturday would have helped with Moise Kean and Kylian Mbappe each scoring twice.
You would be hard-pushed to select PSG to labour once more, however they don’t seem to be the power they had been on the tail finish of final season’s Champions League marketing campaign — not less than not but.
United’s blended begin to the season continued on the weekend as they drew 0-0 at Outdated Trafford with Chelsea, however whereas their Premier League kind is underwhelming, that they had an ideal begin within the Champions League because of their 2-1 win at PSG final week. They’re with out Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard for Wednesday’s sport, whereas Donny van de Beek continues to see his involvement restricted to a couple minutes off the bench.
Leipzig have loved a terrific begin to the 2020-21 marketing campaign. They’re undefeated within the Bundesliga and gained 2-1 in opposition to Hertha Berlin on the weekend, with Dayot Upamecano and Marcel Sabitzer each scoring. In addition they made an ideal begin to their Champions League marketing campaign, beating Istanbul Basaksehir, and can hope for extra of the identical at Outdated Trafford on Wednesday however will seemingly be with out Tyler Adams, Nordi Mukiele, Marcel Halstenberg, Konrad Laimer and Lukas Klostermann.
United must be strong at residence, however Leipzig are undoubtedly the shape group heading into Wednesday’s sport.