Champions League matchday 1: game-by-game preview | UEFA Champions League

The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League group stage kicks off this week, with plenty of storylines and tasty encounters to ensure it gets off to a good start.

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tuesday september 6

Celtic v Real Madrid (21:00 CET)

Enough to mark his return to this stage of the competition after five years of absence! It’s fair to say that this game was the hottest ticket in town since the draw – visiting a Real Madrid side who have won five of the last nine Champions League titles will. Less expected has been the wave of optimism among the Bhoys, helped by a club-record 9-0 away win at Dundee United last month. “I think we can beat them,” says Kyogo Furuhashi on the song. Music to the ears of local supporters.

Did you know?
Real Madrid have never failed to qualify for the Champions League group stage.

Every Real Madrid goal in the Champions League in 2021/22

Dinamo Zagreb-Chelsea (6:45 p.m.)

Thomas Tuchel’s Blues will be looking to kick off their stuttering campaign, but there are certainly easier places to go – just ask Tottenham. Dinamo’s heralded production line continues to produce bright youngsters (keep an eye out for midfielder Martin Baturina) and, combined with a proven class in attack, they are still a force. Especially at home: Modri ​​are unbeaten at Stadion Maksimir in 18 appearances in all competitions, winning 15 and drawing three.*

Did you know?
Chelsea’s Mateo Kovačić spent six years on Dinamo’s books early in his career and was just 16 years and 198 days old when he scored on his debut in 2010.

Sevilla vs Man City (9:00 p.m.)

Erling Haaland has already signed up 27 times in just 25 UEFA club competition appearances for Molde, Salzburg and Dortmund, and it seems his nose for a goal hasn’t been dampened by the move to England. Sevilla are still a team to be reckoned with in Europe, but Haaland and Co can imagine their chances against a revamped back line still adapting to a host of summer starts.

Did you know?
Josep Guardiola reached a record ninth Champions League semi-final last season, surpassing Jose Mourinho’s previous benchmark.

Haaland: Every Champions League goal from Dortmund

Dortmund v Copenhagen (6:45 p.m.)

“We are here to compete, to create great performances and experiences for our fans,” Copenhagen coach Jess Thorup said. There are few better places than in Dortmund, in front of the infamous ‘Yellow Wall’, but apart from a notable capitulation against Bremen last month (losing a game they led 2-0 until the 89th minute), BVB seem to be adapting well. to life without Haaland. Illness currently deprives them of Sebastien Haller, but summer compatriot Karim Adeyemi impressed in last season’s group stage with Salzburg.*

Did you know?
Copenhagen are the only Danish club to reach the knockout stages of the competition.

Salzburg vs AC Milan (21:00)

Adeyemi was among several key players to leave the Austrian champions this summer, but Salzburg are a well-oiled machine: personnel can change but results rarely go down. Fernando, recovered from Shakhtar, has taken over as scorer and will surely ask the Milan defense questions. The Rossoneri won their first Serie A crown in 11 years last season; the next challenge is to rediscover some of their old European magic too. A good start could be the key.

Did you know?
Last season, Salzburg became the first Austrian side to reach the Champions League knockout stage.

Paris-Juventus (21:00)

There’s nothing quite like bumping into your ex just weeks after a breakup. Ángel Di María spent seven successful seasons in Paris before joining Juventus this summer, receiving a standing ovation after retiring in style in May. The Argentine might not receive the same warm welcome on Tuesday as a Juve side who have instead stumbled this season against a Paris side showing real signs of attacking life under new boss Christophe Galtier.

Did you know?
In last season’s group stage, Kylian Mbappé marked his 50th Champions League game by becoming the 11th player to score 20 away goals in the competition. By reaching the total in just 23 games, he did so in fewer games than any of the previous ten men.

Watch all of Di María’s Champions League goals in Paris

Leipzig v Shakhtar (9:00 p.m.)

Christopher Nkunku has attracted a lot of interest over the summer after plundering 35 goals and 20 assists in all competitions for Leipzig last season. Still, the 2021/22 Bundesliga Player of the Season remains at the club and appears to have picked up where he left off; the German team’s early season problems were at the other end of the field. Shakhtar, based in Kyiv due to the current situation in Ukraine, is rather an unknown quantity. They enter matchday one with just three games under their belt this season.

Did you know?
Shakhtar reached the group stage for the 17th time but failed to progress further in 12 of their previous 16 campaigns, including the last four.

Benfica – Maccabi Haifa (21:00)

Maccabi Haifa’s last appearance in the group stage in 2009/10 ended in a disappointing scoreless scoreless draw, although it is often forgotten that five of the defeats were 1-0. The club’s 2022/23 vintage is unlikely to be so parsimonious, as evidenced by their remarkable 5-4 aggregate triumph over Crvena zvezda in the play-offs. Nevertheless, Benfica could well appreciate open play: they have averaged around three goals per game in a winning start to the season in eight appearances.*

Did you know?
Maccabi Haifa were the first Israeli team to qualify for the Champions League proper, making their debut in the first group stage in 2002/03.

Have you chosen your fantasy side?

Wednesday, September 7

Napoli v Liverpool (21:00 CET)

Few teams have gotten the better of Liverpool in the past four seasons, but twice the Reds have visited the venue now known as Stadio Diego Armando Maradona in this competition and twice have come away with nothing. A recent record 9-0 Premier League defeat to Bournemouth has boosted confidence and certainly raised hopes of Liverpool’s first goal at Napoli in three attempts, but Luciano Spalletti’s thrilling side – led by the exciting Victor Osimhen – carries a real threat.

Did you know?
Last season, Liverpool became the first English club to win all six games in a single Champions League group stage.

Ajax v Rangers (6:45 p.m.)

Alfred Schreuder has big shoes to fill after replacing Erik ten Hag as Ajax coach, and a host of big-name departures hint at a changing of the guard in Amsterdam. There have been arrivals too: notably Calvin Bassey, fresh off his key role in helping Rangers to the UEFA Europa League final last season. The defender knows the threat the Scottish side pose better than anyone, and having already taken an Eredivisie scalp this season after beating PSV in the play-offs, Dutch Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst will want another.

Did you know?
Ajax won all six group matches for the first time in their history last season. They thus dominated their group for the first time since 1995/96.

Rangers final Champions League season: Stunning Miller

Barcelona vs Pilsen (21:00)

“We are facing the opponent of our dreams,” said Plzeň midfielder Jan Sýkora. But could a Barcelona attack led by Robert Lewandowski turn into a nightmare? The Polish striker has taken off in Spain, a ‘blessing’ for Xavi Hernández that could prove a curse for opposing defenders as he feeds on pace down the flanks. Lewandowski turned 34 in August but shows no signs of slowing down, with 41 goals in his last 34 Champions League outings.

Did you know?
Last season, Barcelona failed to progress through the group stage for the first time since 2000/01.

Inter v Bayern (9:00 p.m.)

Barcelona’s gain was Bayern’s loss to Lewandowski, but having already scored five, six and seven goals in games this season, the German giants aren’t exactly struggling in that department. With Barcelona in Group C, Julian Nagelsmann desperately needs a successful trip to Italy. “It’s a very demanding and challenging group,” explains the Bayern coach. “We have to be ready from the start.” Inter, nine games unbeaten at home, will also be ready.

Did you know?
Bayern were the top scorer in the group stage last season with 22 goals.

Lewandowski: Great Bayern goals

Tottenham v Marseille (9:00 p.m.)

The 2019 Champions League final has at times seemed like a distant memory for Spurs over the past three years, with last season’s group exit in the UEFA Europa Conference League being particularly trying. Still, there are clear signs of improvement under Antonio Conte, and the consensus in the UK media is that they have quietly developed a well-rounded squad with greater depth. An impressive start to 2022/23 confirms that view, although Marseille, unbeaten so far this season, will provide a test.*

Did you know?
Marseille have not passed this stage of the competition since 2011/12, losing 11 of their next 12 group stage matches.

Frankfurt v Sporting CP (6:45 p.m.)

Frankfurt have had another sluggish start to their domestic campaign, but if they can replicate the continental form that guided them to UEFA Europa League glory last season, it won’t matter. Filip Kostić left but Mario Götze arrived, while Daichi Kamada seems to have pushed as a creative pivot. Sporting CP got off to a similar start in Portugal, with Pedro Gonçalves’ best efforts enough to secure them four points in as many games.*

Did you know?
Sporting CP scored their biggest home (4-0) and away (4-1) wins in the Champions League in successive group matches against Beşiktaş last year.

Every Frankfurt goal on the road to Europa League glory

Atlético – Porto (21:00)

Atleti and Porto also suffered early season setbacks – to Villarreal and Rio Ave respectively – but both teams know how to activate it for the Champions League. They met twice last season, with the Spanish side winning 3-1 away (it was 1-0 after 89 minutes) and drawing 0-0 at home, with just as many red cards only goals in the two matches. We just might be in for more of the same high-octane action.*

Did you know?
Porto are entering their 26th Champions League group stage campaign (the same number as Bayern). Only Barcelona and Real Madrid (27) appeared in addition.

Club Brugge – Leverkusen (21:00)

Carl Hoefkens moved to Club Brugge when Schreuder left for Ajax and seems to be finding his feet in the top job. Up front, Espanyol youth academy product Ferran Jutglà has already made quite an impression for the Belgian club, and the 23-year-old could pose problems for a Leverkusen side that have struggled. struggles at the back in 2022/23.

Did you know?
Club Brugge became the first team to concede four or more goals in four consecutive Champions League matches last season.

*Subject to weekend updates

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