Chelsea and Manchester United return as Barcelona clash Juventus
Written by: Tushaar Sachdeva
Khel Now takes a look at the continental competition and how the teams are set to push the first gear to European glory.
UCL is the most prestigious silverware to have in a cabinet and Real Madrid have made the crown as their prized possession on the last two occasions. There are a lot of major points in the upcoming edition, as there should be. After the fanatic transfer window, the least we can expect is there could be further extraordinary action than the previous editions.
Most of us walk into this plethora of battle with a lot of expectations from our teams, but we certainly cannot deny that we all have the big question. Can Real Madrid do a 3-peat? Statistically speaking, nobody has ever retained the Iron Throne just until the last season, let alone making a 3-peat. Real Madrid do have the firepower to make it a reality but contradictory to their ambitions and the previous triumphs, they face a bleak challenge in the group stage.
Other major talking points have been the return of United and Chelsea after a year of lay off. Some would say that there are very good chances that the trophy will head to England after staying in Spain for 4 years but technically, the chances are bleak. Almost all of the English teams in UCL are smacked by uncertainties and have faded to make a mark on the European front in recent times. We cannot sling out this possibility, regardless of how unfeasible it may look.
Bayern Munich and Juventus have been consistent but the Spanish teams always got the better of them. Much respect to them that they always proved their mettle, only to be subjugated on the most vital stages. Well, None of the teams qualifies to be the elephant here. PSG though can now be considered as one of the most reliable favourites for the crown.
Paris Saint Germain, regardless of the officiating issues, were one of the favourites last season. Though they did not do well in the French league, the silver lining in the clouds is that they now have the hot properties of the transfer market in the name of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe.
Coming back to the present scenario, there's a total of 16 matches to be played equally on Tuesday and Wednesday and there's a lot of mouth-watering clashes to be watched. Here is the list of the matches you cannot afford to miss out and their respective IST timings.
13th September 2017
Though the below-mentioned matches are scheduled for Tuesday, the difference in time zones makes the kick off time to 12:15 am the next day in the sub-continent region. Each of the matches will start at the same time, i.e. 12:15 am Wednesday 13th September 2017.
The full schedule of UEFA Champions League Gameweek One
Chelsea vs Qarabag FK and Manchester United vs FC Basel
What makes these two fixtures is the fact that the teams from the Land of Roses are featuring in Europe after halt of an year. Both the teams have traveled different roads to reach up there. The Blues are the English Champions wherein United won the Europa League to make the cut. Currently, United sit atop of the league and Chelsea have rebounded from their first match defeat to Burnley.
Chelsea is set to face Qarabag FK, the Azerbaijan champions and one of the most successful clubs in their domestic arena. Manchester United is hosting FC Basel, a club that completed the domestic double in Switzerland last season.
Roma vs Atletico Madrid
Roma was in the news following the retirement of their long serving warrior, Francesco Totti, but the Giallarossi would look to move on. Domestically, Roma have been performing quite well, and if it wouldn't have been about the Juventus rule, we would have seen this club as the Italian Champions.
One of the common linings between both the clubs is that they have always been considered as the minor clubs and are often overshadowed by the financial powers of the rivals. Atletico Madrid have been regulars in crossing the quarter final stages for quite some time now. Twice being the runner-ups in the 3 years to the same opponents, they do possess the ammunition to upset any European giant.
Barcelona vs Juventus
We are fortunate enough to see these two teams fight each other again, not once but twice in the early parts of this season. This fixture is the highlight match of the day as a repeat of 2014-15 UCL final. After kicking PSG out of the tournament majestically, Barcelona faced Juventus in the quarter final stages. The Old Lady bid adieu to Messi’s team with an aggregate of 3 goals to nil. In fact, Juventus stuck all their goals away in Camp Nou itself.
Gigi Buffon is in the final year of his career and Leo Messi will look to breach the Italian wall
In their respective countries, Barcelona is steadily making their mark after the loss of Neymar to PSG whereas Juventus is not missing their De Facto defender Leonardo Bonucci. It will be interesting to see if Messi and co can score against Buffon this time.
14th September 2017
Though the below-mentioned matches are scheduled for Wednesday, the difference in time zones makes the kick off time to 12:15 am the next day in the sub-continent. Each of the matches will start at the same time, i.e. 12:15 am on Thursday.
RB Leipzig vs Monaco
Two of the many surprises of the last season were the rise of RB Leipzig and Monaco. Apart from being a newly formed team when compared to other German teams, Leipzig took Bundesliga by a storm, providing a serious headache for the likes of Dortmund and Bayern. Finishing 2nd after Bayern, Leipzig toppled regular Bundesliga heavyweights like Dortmund and Leverkusen to make their entry at the continental showpiece.
Had it not been for the underperformance of PSG. Monaco would have ended just like RB Leipzig. AS Monaco are the French champions but they have shipped out most of their squad. Regardless of that, their performances have been uptight until now. It will be a pretty curious fixture to see how Leipzig tackles the revamped Monaco who were the semi finalists last season.
Real Madrid vs Apoel Nicosia
This game marks the return of European Player of the year and ever-growing pheonix Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid superstar has been banned in the Spanish La Liga and the Los Blancos fans will be happy to see him on the pitch again.
Ideally, the Spanish champions and the two-time defending champions will have a walk in the park against the club from Cyprus. Apoel will hope for a draw away as Zinedine Zidane will look at his future stars Marco Asensio and Lucas Vasquez to deliver the goods.
Tottenham vs Dortmund
Mauricio Pochettino will be looking to host BVB at Wembley with all arms and shells. Spurs could not win the league for yet another season even after a host of sublime displays last season. Pochettino is an intelligent manager who knows how to cope up with any situation but has failed to win titles and has been unfortunate in making it to knockout stages.
BVB are in a new direction with a change in their manager. They sit atop of the German Bundesliga at the moment with a couple of wins and a draw. Dortmund have been pretty unlucky in their triumph of the European titles, having failed to win the UCL in 2013 and have not been able to reach the final of Europa in recent times.
Liverpool Vs Sevilla
On a thinking note, this clash pans out to be a mouth watering bout. Both teams last faced each other in the UEFA Europa final of 2016, when Sevilla got the better of Liverpool. Had Liverpool won the game, it would have been Klopp’s first European trophy in the Reds' colors. It would be interesting to see Klopp designs his system after a 5-0 thrashing at City in the Premier League on Saturday.
Liverpool were thrashed 3-1 against Sevilla two seasons ago as Jurgen Klopp still awaited his first continental glory
Sevilla, on the other hand, are 3rd in the league, after winning a couple and drawing another. They surely have rosters to upset Liverpool once again, but it might become a hard walk away at Anfield.
All the matches will be broadcast on the Sony/TEN Network.
Published: Tue Sep 12, 2017 11:56 AM IST