5 Champions League Matches To Watch This Week
The Champions League kicks off this evening as Europe’s elite start their campaigns for the richest prize in club football. Here are five matches to watch
The 2015-16 Champions League kicks off this evening as Europe’s elite start their campaigns for the richest prize in club football.
Premier League sides Manchester United and Manchester City will be in action on Tuesday before Arsenal and Chelsea play their first matches of this season’s tournament 24 hours later. The Premier League teams aren’t the ones you want to be putting your bets for the Champions League though – or perhaps free bets are all should consider with them!
Defending champions Barcelona will also be in action on Wednesday. Here is a look at the five most interesting matches from the opening round:
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar Donetsk
After being held 0-0 at newly-promoted Sporting Gijón to start their season, Real Madrid have hit back with thumping 5-0 and 6-0 victories over Real Betis and Espanyol to start their La Liga season.
Rafa Benítez’s side showed they meant business at the weekend as Cristiano Ronaldo scored five goals in a single game to send out a message to the rest of the league.
Shakhtar Donetsk are the third strongest team in this group so victory for the Spanish side this evening would immediately put them on their way to the second round, expected to compete with Paris Saint-Germain to win the group. Swedish side FC Malmö are the other team in the group, essentially making up the numbers.
Reason to watch: How many goals will Cristiano Ronaldo and Real Madrid score midweek? For the first time in six seasons, Shakhtar Donetsk did not win the Ukrainian Premier League in 2014-15, currently second this season though are coming off the back of a 5-0 thrashing of Metalist on Friday.
PSV Eindhoven vs Manchester United
Manchester United return to the Champions League for the first time in 12 months and many consider them to have been handed a favourable group.
Louis van Gaal returns to his homeland to face Dutch Eredivisie champions PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday. Phillip Cocu has had his championship-winning side of last season ripped apart over the summer though.
Starting centre-back Karim Rekik returned to Manchester City, central midfielder Oscar Hiljemark left for Palermo, forward Georginio Wijnaldum headed to Newcastle United, and last season’s top goalscorer Memphis Depay made his big money move to Manchester United.
The hosts are left with the likes of Luuk de Jong up front and have already dropped four points from their opening five games to start the new season.
Reason to watch: Memphis Depay returns to the Phillips Stadium. Will the Dutch international score in a victory over his former side?
Manchester City vs Juventus
Manchester City have opened up a four-point lead at the top of the Premier League after only five games, whilst defending Italian champions Juventus have only picked up one point from their opening three games.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side will be without star man Sergio Agüero this evening but both David Silva and Raheem Sterling are available again after missing the weekend’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
With the form of these two sides domestically it is a great opportunity for City to pick up three points and put themselves in an excellent position to win the group which would likely mean avoiding Barcelona in the second round for a change.
Reason to watch: Is this England versus Italy’s best sides? With Sevilla and Borussia Mönchengladbach in the group there’s certainly a lot at stake at the Etihad this evening.
AS Roma vs Barcelona
Defending champions Barcelona kick off the defence of their Champions League title with arguably the toughest fixture they’ll get in this group. Luis Enrique’s side will also face Bayer 04 Leverkusen and BATE Borisov where many expect them to pick up 12 points against those two sides.
The Spanish and European champions have made an interesting start to their season – three victories in the league by a solo goal, winning the UEFA Super Cup in extra-time, but losing the Spanish Super Cup 5-1 to Athletic Bilbao.
Roma have beaten 10-man Juventus and newly-promoted Frosinone in taking seven points from a possible nine in Italy but not many are expecting them to hang with Barcelona in this group. Anything from this game will be a bonus but ultimately they’re expected to compete with Leverkusen to make it to the knockout rounds.
Reason to watch: Lionel Messi, Luis Suárez and Neymar. What more reasons do you need? Barcelona are the bookmakers’ favourites to defend their title this season.
Dinamo Zagreb vs Arsenal
Arsène Wenger’s side put in their best performance of the season in beating Stoke City 2-0 at the Emirates over the weekend.
Now the Gunners boss will be hoping his side pick up three points in their Champions League qualifier over in Croatia to prevent making a meal of getting out of this group.
Arsenal can’t afford too many slip ups in the group with Bayern Munich heavy favourites to win it. The Premier League side are expected to compete with the likes of Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb for second spot, and whilst they shouldn’t have a problem in progressing, any slip ups in this opener will cause a slight concern.
Reason to watch: Are Arsenal good enough to beat Bayern Munich this year?
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