September 16th, 2019

The Champions League returns this week!

By Jonny Houghton

THE CHAAAAMPIONNNNSSS… Admit it, you sung it in your head didn’t you?

The Champions League, arguably the best club competition in the world returns to our screens on Tuesday night! There’s something about Europe’s elite competition that just makes it so exciting compared to regular weekend league games!

Whether it’s seeing global teams you wouldn’t normally see, or simply watching your team take on the continents best for the first time it’s got something for everyone. A chance to see some of the world’s greatest players in action adds a bit of glamour to your midweek.

Match day 1 of this years Champions League groups starts this upcoming Tuesday, so let’s have a look at some of the stand out ties in store for us. I’m going to need at least 3 TV’s to be able to take it all in!

1-Borussia Dortmund v Barcelona-Tuesday 8pm

We start with a mouthwatering tie in Group F where La Liga winners Barcelona take on Bundesliga runners up Borussia Dortmund.

I mean, you can’t really talk about Barcelona without mentioning Lionel Messi, he’ll be relishing the return of the Champions League to put right their semi final heartbreak last season.

Dortmund are a great team in their own right and will more than likely be battling it out with Barca for top position in this group. There’s interesting battles all over the pitch here and Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho already has two goals to his name in the Bundesliga.

I think this game comes down to whoever defends better on the night, Messi and co have done the business time and time again but Dortmund are young and hungry. Expect goals.

Jadon Sancho to score anytime

2-Atletico Madrid v Juventus-Wednesday 8pm

To be honest, I’d forgotten that these two teams were drawn together, what a game this should be! Both teams are defensively excellent and last year’s breakout star Joao Felix will be looking to continue the form that got him his multi-million European move to Madrid in the first place.

Altetico’s loss of Antoine Griezmann to Barcelona could be felt here but I feel that their strength in depth remains. Juve arguably have the best midfield in Europe in terms of individual talent and the added X factor of Cristiano Ronaldo last season.

The Portugal international bagged a hat-trick against Atleti in last year’s competition making this an absolute treat for fans. Just be glad this tie is a different day than the Dortmund v Barca match. Both teams have been flawless in their domestic leagues so far too, so make a date with your TV for this one.

Juventus to win with both teams to score

3-Napoli v Liverpool-Tuesday 8pm

There are so many good games this week that the defending champions of this competition are relegated to the third on this list, that tells you something doesn’t it?

Liverpool’s Sadio Mane during last seasons competition

There’s an interesting parallel to last year’s group stage where the Reds denied Napoli passage to the knockout stages thanks to a last minute save from standout keeper Alisson at Anfield. Napoli of course won their home fixture in last years group with a last minute winner of their own, giving Liverpool a bit of a bloody nose in the process.

Both teams have improved since then and I expect this one to a fiery affair. Losing the opener of this group isn’t the worst thing in the world given the other two teams, but Liverpool would hope to overturn their poor away form in last year’s competition.

Napoli are real solid at the back but I can’t really picture a universe where Liverpool’s front three don’t come away with at least one goal.

Both teams to score and either to win – YES

4-Shakhtar Donetsk v Manchester City-Wednesday 8pm

In another repeat from last year’s competition, Pep Guardiola’s men make the trip to Ukraine where they ran out 3-0 winners. The Ukrainian champions didn’t really lay a mark on City in the group last season conceding 9 against City alone and scoring zero.

This is the second of 4 games in 10 days for City, so I can imagine this is the one where they’ll rest a few and still manage to win by a similar score line to last time.

Definitely not as exciting as the games previously mentioned but it will be interesting to see what Guardiola does throughout the competition and whether or not he can finally deliver that famous trophy home to the Eithad Stadium.

Sterling Wincast

5-Paris St Germain v Real Madrid-Wednesday 8pm

Ooff. Good one this, a clash of the titans, serial winners and two of the most expensively assembled teams in Europe at the moment.

Real Madrid had won this competition in it’s old form 6 times before PSG were even formed as a side. The 13-time winners will hope for a repeat performance of last year where they ran out 5-2 aggregate winners in their quarter-final against the Parisians.

Neymar didn’t get his move this summer, despite interest from Real and Barcelona so he’ll be keen to show Real what they’re missing out on. This is a game chock full of talent and I haven’t even mentioned Kylian Mbappe or Eden Hazard yet!

There should be goals all over the place in this game. I fancy Zidane’s men to take this, we’ve all seen what can happen to PSG when they face teams of equal quality.

Real Madrid win with both teams to score

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Tuesday 17th September

Wednesday 18th September