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 4…
THE BIG MATCH
Tottenham vs. Real Madrid: These sides drew 1-1 at the Santiago Bernabeau two weeks ago, and currently sit tied atop Group H with seven points after three games, so Wednesday’s contest could go a long way to decide who will emerge the group winner.
Spurs are coming off a 1-0 loss to Manchester United on the weekend at Old Trafford. Harry Kane missed the game due to a hamstring injury, and his participation in this midweek European match is still in question.
Real Madrid is also coming off a domestic loss. Shockingly, los blancos lost 2-1 to modest Girona on the weekend to drop eight points back of La Liga leaders FC Barcelona.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Edinson Cavani, Paris Saint-Germain: The Uruguayan hitman ranks second in scoring in this season’s tournament with four goals. He’s found the back of the net in each of PSG’s three group-stage games, including their last outing, a 4-0 destruction of Anderlecht on the road. PSG welcomes the Belgian club to the Parc des Princes on Tuesday, and Cavani will be looking to add to his impressive goal tally against what is a beleaguered opponent – Anderlecht have lost all three of their games by a combined scored of 10-0.
ATLETICO IN DESPERATE NEED OF A WIN
Make no mistake about it: Atletico Madrid is up against it ahead of their home match versus Qarabag on Tuesday. The Spanish outfit sits third in Group E after three games – three points adrift of AS Roma and five back of Chelsea. Atletico has yet to win in a game in the group stage, and they are coming off a shocking draw against Qarabag. A loss on Tuesday against the Azerbaijan club wouldn’t eliminate Atletico from contention, but it would put major pressure on Diego Simeone’s side in the final two contests of the group stage.
NAPOLI OUT FOR REVENGE
Napoli played Manchester City very close two weeks ago, and nearly walked away with a result from the Blues but, ultimately, they lost 2-1 in England. City manager Pep Guardiola praised the Serie A club after the game, saying they were one of the best teams he’s ever faced as a coach. Napoli will be out for revenge when they host Manchester City on Wednesday, while also looking to revitalize their Champions League hopes – the Italian club sits third in Group E, three points behind Ukraine club Shakhtar Donetsk.
A TALE OF TWO GERMAN CLUBS
It’ll be a battle of the top two teams in the Bundesliga on Saturday when first-place Bayern Munich visits second-place Borussia Dortmund. Before that, though, both clubs have some business to settle in the Champions League: Bayern visits Celtic on Tuesday, while Dortmund hosts Cypriot club APOEL on Wednesday. Bayern is in a relatively comfortable spot – second in Group B behind PSG, but with a three-point edge on Celtic. A win over the Scottish champions would put them in a stronger position entering the final two games of the group. Dortmund, meanwhile, faces an uphill battle, with just one point and six points behind both Tottenham and Real Madrid in Group H. They need to beat APOEL to have any chance of moving on to the next round.
Eden Hazard scored the lone goal in Chelsea’s 1-0 road win over Bournemouth in the Premier League over the weekend to continue his scoring streak for the London club. AS Roma will no doubt keep close tabs on the Belgian when they host Chelsea on Tuesday.
HE SAID IT
“[The Champions League is] the most important club competition in the world, so being a part of it is something to be proud of. It’s also natural that in the minds of the players they focus more on the competition they’ve got a better chance at [Serie A], but we must be eager to challenge ourselves against the best and right now Manchester City is the best side in the world.” – Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri on Wednesday’s home game against Manchester City.