Champions League, the star matches of the first day
The UEFA Champions League group stage is back with sixteen fixtures on the menu. Presentation of our six matches not to be missed.
Tuesday, September 6
Paris – Juventus (21 hours)
Reunion for the beginnings. Ángel Di María spent seven seasons in Paris before flying to Turin this summer and being joined there by Leandro Paredes. The two Argentinians will be back at the Park – already – to face the new Paris Saint-Germain who seem to have regained offensive strength under the direction of their new coach, Christophe Galtier.
Last season, Kylian Mbappé scored his 50e goal in the Champions League in the group stage, also becoming the eleventh player to reach the milestone of 20 away goals in the event. By achieving this in just 23 matches, he is the fastest in history.
Celtic-Real Madrid (21:00)
There can be no better way to celebrate their return to the competition after a five-year absence than to welcome defending champions and winners of five of the last nine Champions Leagues: Real Madrid. Carried away by the optimism generated by the record away victory in the league (9-0 against Dundee United), the Bhoys approach the match with confidence: “We can beat them”, declared Kyogo Furuhashi, author of a hat-trick that night.
Real Madrid have never been eliminated from the Champions League group stage.
Sevilla – Man. City (21 hours)
Erling Haaland has scored 27 goals in just 25 UEFA European competition appearances for Molde, Salzburg and Dortmund and it looks like his goalscoring ability hasn’t been diminished by his move to England. Sevilla are still a tough team to maneuver in Europe, but their new defensive line will be put to the test against Haaland and his teammates.
Josep Guardiola made his record-breaking ninth UEFA Champions League semi-final appearance last season, beating José Mourinho in the process.
Dinamo Zagreb-Chelsea (6:45 p.m.)
Dortmund – Copenhagen (6:45 p.m.)
Salzburg – AC Milan (21:00)
Leipzig – Shakhtar (21:00)
Benfica – Maccabi Haifa (21:00)
Wednesday, September 7
Tottenham – Marseille (21 hours)
The 2019 Champions League final seems like a distant memory for Spurs over the past three seasons, with last year’s UEFA Europa Conference League group stage elimination a rather painful memory. Still, signs of improvement are evident under Antonio Conte and British media agree the club have quietly developed a full squad. The impressive start to the 2022/23 season confirms this opinion, but Marseille, unbeaten since the start of the season*, will be a test.
Marseille have not made it past the group stage since 2011/12, losing 11 of their 12 matches in that phase since.
*Subject to change depending on the results of the weekend
Barcelona – Pilsen (21:00)
“We are facing the opponent of our dreams,” said Pilsen midfielder Jan Sýkora. Can the Barcelona attack, led by its headliner Robert Lewandowski, turn this dream into a nightmare? The Polish striker has already made his mark in Spain by finding the net and the one who is seen as a “blessing” for Xavi Hernández could turn into a curse for the opposing defenders. Lewandowski turned 34 in August but is not letting up, with 41 goals in his last 34 Champions League outings.
Last season Barca were knocked out in the group stage for the first time since 2000/01.
Lewandowski’s departure to Barcelona might have been a heavy loss for Bayern, but having already netted five, six and seven goals in his opening matches of the season, the German giants seem to have come to terms with it. With Barcelona to face in the squad, Julian Nagelsmann is keen to start well in Italy. “It’s a very demanding and challenging group,” said the Bayern coach. “We have to be ready from the start.” Undefeated for nine home matches, Inter will also be ready.
Bayern were the best attack in last year’s group stage with 22 goals.
Napoli – Liverpool (21:00)
Ajax-Rangers (6:45 p.m.)
Frankfurt – Sporting CP (6:45 p.m.)
Atlético Madrid – Porto (21:00)
Club Brugge – Leverkusen (21:00)
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