The Uefa Champions’ League is back with a bang! Interesting clashes will take place across the groups in different centres. Titans will clash, and these clashes promise thrills, frills and goals. Here is a preview of the important ties of matchday one.
Tuesday, 17 September
Group E: Liverpool will lock horns with Napoli at the Stadio San Paolo. The reigning champions have met Partenopei four times in European competitions, winning just one of those clashes. Both sides met twice in Group C last season, Napoli winning 1-0 in Italy before Liverpool edged the return clash in a tense 1-0 win at Anfield to secure qualification to the knockout stages.
The Reds are buoyed by their success last season but will meet a familiar foe in the Italians. Expect Jurgen Klopp’s men to get the better of Napoli on the basis of form, pedigree and a tested attacking trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane, that has ruled Europe.
Prediction: Napoli 1 Liverpool 2
Group F: Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona haven’t faced each other in almost 22 years since the 1997 European Super Cup final. However, this will be the first time that both sides will meet in the Champions League. It is expected that Spanish striker Paco Alcacer and French winger Ousmane Dembele will prove points against their former employers.
Missed seeing this 1️⃣–2️⃣ 🥊 pic.twitter.com/mvBtckEF3N
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) September 16, 2019
Last season’s best forward, Lionel Messi, is fit to play after a two-month injury layoff. His brothers-in-arms Luis Suarez scored twice at the weekend on his return from injury too. However, the Germans will be difficult to beat at Signal Iduna Park.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2 Barcelona 2
Group H: Valencia have not won against Chelsea in six previous Champions League matches. Current Blues manager, Frank Lampard, scored in the Londoner’s last clash with Los Che at the Mestella eight years ago and will be looking for another win over them.
Lampard says he will be proud to make his Champions League debut as Chelsea manager tomorrow. He cites multiple incredible nights in the competition, particularly at Stamford Bridge.#CHEVCF
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) September 16, 2019
Valencia’s recent crises and appointment of a new coach may have unsettled the balance of the team, but they have given a good account of themselves in Europe recently. They were Europa League semi-finalists last season, losing to another London-based team, Arsenal. On the good form of Anglo-Nigerian striker, Tammy Abraham, Chelsea should win this tie.
Prediction: Chelsea 2 Valencia 1
Wednesday, 18 September
Group A: By now, Paris Saint-Germain will be getting sick at the sight of Real Madrid. Both teams met in the 2015/16 season and the 2017/18 season, with Real Madrid prevailing over the Parisians on aggregate on both occasions. PSG have a star-studded squad and are aiming to be the first French team since Olympique Marseille to win the Champions League. This will be their eighth consecutive season participating, and the fact that they retained the services of Neymar should make them strong contenders for the title.
The Brazilian superstar is however unavailable likewise Kylian Mbappe. It will also be an immediate reunion for goalkeeper Keylor Navas who will relish a clash against Los Merengues after he joined the French team on transfer deadline day. The Spanish capital club have started the current season poorly, and with a depleted defense line that will see Sergio Ramos, Nacho Fernandez and Marcelo miss out of the tie, PSG will fancy their chances of getting something out of this game.
Prediction: PSG 1 Real Madrid 1
Group C: Manchester City will relish going into their game with Shakhtar Donetsk as they were able to avoid the major European giants in the draws. They won 3-0 (away) and 6-0 (home) against the Ukrainians in the group stage last season. Shakhtar have been playing away from their original home due to war since 2014.
On the plane to Ukraine!
Our 21-man squad for the #UCL clash against Shakhtar Donetsk 📝
— Manchester City (@ManCity) September 16, 2019
They have a first team with 10 Brazilians led by captain, Taison, and will hope to give a better account of themselves against the Citizens. However, the superior fire-power of Pep Guardiola’s side makes them outright favourites in this clash.
Prediction: Shakhtar Donetsk 1 Manchester City 3
Group D: The clash between Atletico Madrid and Juventus is a perfect opportunity for Diego Simeone and Co. to seek revenge against the Italians. It took a second-leg hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo to dump Atletico out of the competition in the Round of 16 last season. This time around, it seems things will be different.
Diego Costa is back for Los Rojiblancos and will have a new sidekick in Portuguese wonderkid, Joao Felix. It will be a tough task for Juventus to defeat Atletico at home, but they will count on the scoring prowess of Ronaldo, who has scored seven goals in his last eight meetings with Atleti in Uefa competitions. It is a tough call, but the recent friendly between the two sides suggests that the Spanish outfit have what it takes to break the Old Lady.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2 Juventus 1
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