After a small layoff, the UEFA Champions League resumes this week with more group stage action.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of Matchday 2…
THE BIG MATCH
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Bayern Munich: Neymar sat out PSG’s 0-0 draw vs. Montpellier in Ligue 1 on the weekend with a toe injury. But the Brazilian star is expected to return for the French side when they host Bayern Munich on Wednesday.
PSG looked pretty toothless without Neymar in the stalemate against Montpellier, and the capital club ended up dropping points for the first time through the opening seven contests of the French league season.
If Neymar does start, it’ll be up to Joshua Kimmich to try to slow him down. The German youngster is a bulwark in central midfield for Bayern, and shows great composure on the ball with an ability to slow the game down when needed.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Paulo Dybala, Juventus: The Argentine ace was kept pretty quiet in Juventus’s 3-0 loss away to FC Barcelona on Matchday 1. However, he’s been in red hot form for the Italian champions in Serie A, scoring 10 goals in six games – including a brace against city rivals Torino in the Derby della Mole on Saturday. With the way Dybala is playing on the domestic front, you have to think he’s going to bust out on Wednesday when Juventus hosts Greek side Olympiacos.
ATLETICO CHRISTENS NEW HOME IN EUROPE
Atletico Madrid will make its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday when it hosts Chelsea. It will be Atletico’s third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its previous 11 contests in the European competition. Atletico has won both of its La Liga matches at the Wanda Metropolitano, which has won widespread praise for its electric atmosphere. “The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,” Atletico manager Diego Simeone said.
MAN UNITED LIMP INTO MOSCOW
Manchester United will be without a number of key midfielders for their visit to CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. Belgian Marouane Fellaini picked up an ankle injury in the Red Devils’ win over Southampton on Saturday, ruling him out for the trip to Russia. Frenchman Paul Pogba is already sidelined with a long-term injury, while Nemanja Matic is questionable for the match after picking up a knock against Southampton.
BESIKTAS LOOKS TO CANADA’S HUTCHINSON
Atiba Hutchinson played a starring role in Besitas’ win over FC Porto on Matchday 1. The Canadian international was a defensive dynamo in midfield for the Turkish champions, breaking up plays and making a number of important tackles. German club RB Leizpig pay a visit to Istanbul on Tuesday, and boast one of the best counter-attacks in the Bundesliga, led by Timo Werner who has five goals in his last six games in all competitions. It’ll be up to Hutchinson to shut down Werner and his cohorts down whenever they’re in possession.
NAPOLI MOVE ON WITHOUT MILIK
Italian club Napoli was dealt a cruel blow when Polish forward Arkadiusz Milik suffered a right knee injury in a Serie A game this past weekend. Milik had an operation in Rome on Monday and has been ruled out for the next four months, which means he won’t see action on Tuesday when the Italians host Dutch outfit Feyenoord. Milik, who scored on Matchday 1 in a loss to Shakhtar Donetsk, also missed four months of last season after damaging ligaments in his left knee.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is coming off of a man-of-the-match performance in the Bundesliga over the weekend when he scored a hat trick and collected an assist in Borussia Dortmund’s 6-1 destruction of Borussia Moenchengladbach. Real Madrid would be well advised to keep close tabs on the Gabon international when they visit Dortmund on Tuesday.
HE SAID IT
“I think that, in the group stage, there are not many interesting games. You choose only one or two games. Look at the audiences. It has lost some attraction power.” – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.