UEFA champions league preview, micro-scoping the big games

Reading Time: 6 minutes

[Analyses]–Yes!!! Europe Premier Competition is back. The UEFA Champions League promises to be as exciting and interesting as previous years with mouthwatering ties from Day 1 of the group stages. We start with the big games schedule for today.

GROUP A

Benfica vs CSKA Moscow

Manchester United vs. Basel FC

Venue – Old Trafford, Manchester

Kick off – 7.45 PM (Nigerian time)

The 2008 Champions, Manchester United of England are back against Swiss giants, FC Basel who knocked them out in the group stages duaring the 2011/12 competition. Of course, Manchester United are no longer at the summit of European football despite winning the Europa League back in May. They will however be buoyed by the fact that in Jose Mourinho, they have a manager who understands the competition well enough. FC Basel are here again after failing to move past the group stage last season when pitched with the likes of Arsenal and PSG. They are currently third in the Swiss league due to their slow start to the season.

Both teams have met four times with both teams winning one apiece while drawing the remaining two games. Manchester United are in great shape and are undefeated at home in a year and have added the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic while topping the English Premier League table despite drawing to Stoke last Saturday at the Brittania Stadium.

Anything except a win would be considered a terrible result for the Old Trafford outfit.

GROUP B

Bayern Munich vs Anderlecht

Venue – Allianz Arena, Munich

Kick off – 7.45 PM (Nigerian time)

German giants and 2013 winners, Bayern Munich welcome Belgium’s Anderlecht to the Allianz Arena on Tuesday night. On paper, it may seem to be an easy task for the Bavarians but Bayern Munich have not been at their usual best since the pre-season. The lost to Hoffenheim last Saturday 2-0 and would hope to bounce back immediately. Anderlecht are also experiencing a poor start to their league campaign having failed to score in their three away games this season.

The last time both teams faced, Bayern Munich crushed Anderlecht 6-2 in 2007/08 Europa league campaign. Despite their misgivings, Bayern Munich is expected to defeat Anderlecht at home on Tuesday night.

Celtic vs Paris Saint Germain

Venue – Glasgow Park, Scotland

Kick off – 7.45 PM (Nigerian time)

Scottish giants, Celtic welcome Europe’s team of the moment, PSG to Scotland in the other Group B game. PSG are presently touted as one of the favourites to win this year’s competition having acquired the services of Brazilian superstar Neymar Jnr and French wonderkid, Kylian Mbappe. Standing between them and three points is a trip to Glasgow Park to face Brendan Rodger’s Celtic who couldn’t have hope for a better start to their domestic season.

There is no head to head history between both clubs which proves this is a clean slate for both clubs. The away team is expected to win due to the quality fo their star studded team and should be able to overcome anything Celtic can muster.

It promises to be a great game of football.

Group C

Chelsea vs Qarabag FK

Venue – Stamford Bridge, London

Kick off – 7.45 PM (Nigerian time)

The English Champions are back in this year’s competition having missed out last year. For Qarabag Fc, they are making history as the first team from Azerbaijan to grace the competition. As such, we are going to witness an unknown side coming to face one of the most popular teams in Europe.

As expected, this is the first game ever between both teams and as such, there is no head to head record to fall back on. Despite losing their first match of the new campaign, Chelsea FC have bounced back and are expected to defeat Qarabag without much fuss. Of course, it is football and anything can happen but anything other than a Chelsea victory would be considered an upset.

AS Roma vs Atletico Madrid

Venue – Stadio Olimpico

Kick off – 7.45 PM (Nigerian time)

One of the must watch ties will take place at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday when As Roma welcome last year’s semi-finalist Atletico Madrid . Roma failed to qualify for the group stage last season and would hope to create a good impression this time around against a tough Diego Simeone led Atletico Madrid. Both teams have not had the best start to the season with the Spanish team winning only one of their three league games this season. AS Roma have lost three times at home in the last two months as well.

It is hard to determine the favorite in this game and both teams have never faced each other. As such, predicting the winner is a herculean task but based on their experience in Europe, Atletico Madrid are slight favourite. Their Argentine manager would be hoping the likes of Antoine Greizzman, Saul and Fernando Torres turn up to deliver three points for the team.

Group D

Olympiacos vs Sporting CP

Barcelona vs Juventus

Venue – Camp Nou, Barcelona

Kick off – 7.45 PM (Nigerian time)

The biggest tie of Day 1 takes place at the Camp Nou in a repeat of last season’s quarter final clash and 2015 final match. Barcelona look to adapting to life without Neymar having defeated Epanyol 5-0 at the weekend. They have had a perfect start to their domestic season after their humiliating loss to real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup encounter.

Juventus has also experienced a perfect start to their Serie A campaign winning all the three games they have played thus far. Juventus have added to their ranks from last season with the injection of Douglas Costa and Blaise Matuidi to their squad.

Both teams have faced six times in the competition and have won two apiece. It promises to be a tough encounter with both sides brimming with quality. Barcelona are slight favorites due to home advantage but if I were a betting man, I would go for a draw. As a neutral, you would be certainly be happy to watch.

TOLUWANIMI ADEYEFA tweets @Rcadetolu.

 




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