The Champions League returns tonight with eight group matches, including the 2012 winners Bayern Munich against Premier League champions Manchester City.
All matches kick off at 19:45 (BST)
Bayern Munich v Man City
Vincent Kompany believes that Manchester City have “ a chance to prove ourselves”, and has said that they can repeat the victory they achieved in Munich last year.
Ruben Cousillas will take over as manager of City as Manuel Pellegrini serves a touchline suspension.
Bayern Munich are plagued with injuries, missing many first team players and more. Bayern boss Pep Guardiola has said that “it is a good lesson for the big clubs if we think we are unbeatable, that we are so strong” and also believes that Man United not featuring in this years Champions League is a warning to all the “big clubs”.
Bayern are without Rafinha, Thiago, Javi Martinez, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger. Dutch winger Arjen Robben is a doubt with a knee injury. Holger Badstuber is also out after tearing a thigh muscle tendon during Saturday’s win over Stuttgart 2-0.
Meanwhile Manchester City have fewer injury concerns than the German champions, with just three players missing. The game will come too soon for Montenegrin striker Stevan Jovetic, who is out with a hamstring injury picked up in City’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, while new-signing Fernando is out with a groin problem and Pablo Zabaleta is suspended after his dismissal in his side’s loss at Barcelona last season.
Roma v CSKA Moscow
Roma boss Rudi Garcia has stated that CSKA are “the strongest team in Group E”.
Moscow boss Leonid Slutski says that his side need to curb their attacking instincts, and has also revealed how his football career ended at 19 after falling out of a tree onto his knee while saving a neighbour’s cat.
Roma are without key midfielders Daniele De Rossi, who is suspended, and Kevin Strootman who is out with a long term knee injury. Leandro Castan is a doubt with a thigh problem.
CSKA are missing Alan Dzagoev and Pontus Wernbloom who are both suspended. Also they have multiple players injured: Georgi Schennikov and Vitinho who are out with ankle injuries, Rasmus Elm who has a stomach problem, and Aleksandrs Cauna who is out with a foot injury.
Ajax v PSG
Ajax manager Frank de Boer believes that Paris Saint-Germain possess the capability to reach the final of this season’s Champions League.
Gregory van der Wiel and Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Laurent Blanc’s PSG visit their former club.
The Dutch champions are missing Viktor Fischer (hamstring) and Riechedly Bazoer (groin).
Meanwhile PSG are without key player and defender Thiago Silva, who has a thigh injury, while his fellow Brazilian World Cup central defender, David Luiz, could also be out with a knee injury. New signing Serge Aurier could also be absent with concussion.
Barcelona v APOEL
Luis Enrique will be makng his European managerial debut against APOEL, and has said there are no nerves with him and his side ahead of the fixture.
Claudio Bravo is yet to concede a goal in a Barcelona shirt and he looks set for a queit evening in Camp No as APOEL coach, Giorgos Donis, has said that his side will focus on their defensive shape for this tough game.
Jordi Masip is out for Barcelona with a broken figure, while Thomas Vermaelen could miss out with a thigh strain and Dani Alves could possibly feature after recovering well from a knee problem.
For APOEL, John Arne Riise could miss out as he is not fully fit, Efstathios Aloneftis could return from an ankle problem and Anastasios Papazoglou could also be back in contention as his thigh injury has almost cleared up.
Chelsea v Schalke 04
Didier Drogba will be hoping to feature in his first Champions League game for Chelsea since he won the competition with them in Munich in 2012 – scoring Chelsea’s only goal and the decisive penalty. That was also his last appearance for the club until he re-joined this summer.
Petr Cech will also hope to play against the side that finished third last season in the Bundesliga, as he has not yet made an appearance this season for Chelsea since Thibaut Courtois returned from his three-year long loan spell at Atletico Madrid.
Cheslea coach Jose Mourinho has said: “Don’t be surprised if Cech plays a Champions League game”.
In last year’s Champions League group stage Schalke lost 3-0 both at home and away against Chelsea, but will be hoping for an improved performance this time around. They do have a lot of injuries, whereas Chelsea have just Drogba as a slight doubt.
Schalke however, have Farfan, Felipe Santana, Girefer, Kirchhoff, Giefer, Matip, Sobottka, Matip and their captain and World Cup winner Benedikt Howedes injured. This could be a serious issue for this match, and they could struggle to get out of the group stage.
Maribor v Sporting
Slovenian champions Maribor end a 15-year wait for Champions League group stage football when they face Sporting on Wednesday.
Coach Ante Šimundža played the last time the team reached this stage of the comeptition.
“I played in the UEFA Champions League and now I am a coach in this competition, but the only common point is Maribor [whom Šimundža represented in the 1999/2000 group stage],” he said. “I don’t like to compare the past with the present; it was 15 years ago that I played in this competition.
Maribor’s confidence is high after defeating Scottish champions Celtic 2-1 on aggregate in the Champions League play-off round.
Marco Silva’s Sporting, by contrast, have started the season slowly with a 1-0 home victory over Arouca their only win of the season so far, having been held to 1-1 draws in their other three fixtures to date.
“Obviously people were expecting big things,” the on-loan Manchester United winger Nani told Sporting’s official website.
“We wanted to start the season in the best possible way and we still have a lot of games to play.
“We will fight as hard as we can to get better results.”
For Sporting, Ramy Rabia (stomach) has been ruled out but fellow defender Cedric is included in a 21-man squad after back trouble, while it is thought Maribor coach Ante Simundza has a fully-fit squad to select from.
Athletic Bilbao v Shakhtar Donetsk
Athletic Bilbao are in the group stages of the competition for the first time since the 1998-99 campaign and they know they cannot afford to drop points at home if they wish to advance.
“We are fortunate to be playing our first game at home, with the crowd behind us,” said Ernesto Valverde, Athletic coach. “We have to make the most of it, to make a good start by claiming all three points. Victory is our objective. A win would be a massive step and we will do everything to get it.”
Shakhtar are hoping to repeat last season’s start to the competition which saw them win 2-0 against Basque side Real Sociedad.
Mircea Luscescu’s men travel to Spain in confident mood having enjoyed a 100 per cent winning record so far this season.
Shakhtar have won all eight of their games in all competitions so far, including Saturday’s 2-0 league win at Odessa that kept them at the top of the Ukrainian Premier League standings.
“The important thing is to reach the Champions League and that’s why every year we try to do well in our championship, to return to the Champions League,” said Lucescu.
“We’ll try to play to win and we feel the responsibility to represent our fans. But what concerns us now is the Champions League and to win at Athletic, a very strong team.”
Atheltic are without Kike Sola who has a muscle injury, while for Shakhtar Olexandr Kucher is a doubt.
FC Porto v BATE Borisov
Porto coach Julen Lopetegui is taking nothing for granted ahead of their clash with BATE.
“It’s going to be a tough match,” he said. “We are in the group stage of the Champions League, so no game is going to be easy. Porto want to start well but it will be a hard match – they have a very good team. It’s important for us and for every Champions League club to start well.”
BATE coach Aleksandr Yermakovich has travelled to Portugal with victory in mind.
“Porto are a very strong team but we know a lot about them,” he said. “We are anxious to get out onto the pitch and get going. We are likely to base our game on a counterattacking approach – and try to win the match like that. We want to win and certainly didn’t come here to lose.
“Porto have won the Champions League and the Europa League, but we are still thinking about winning here tomorrow.
“We don’t have a player like Jackson Martínez, with his stature in Europe, but we have a very good team”. We don’t fear anyone.”
Porto are without Gonçalo Paciência and Óliver Torres with knee and shoulder injuries respectively, while Nemanja Tubić is a doubt for BATE.
By Joe Rennie