Real Madrid's Aurelien Tchouameni, center, attends a training session ahead of Tuesday's Champions League match against Napoli, at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium in Naples, Italy, Monday, Oct. 2, 2023. Photo: AP
Manchester United vs. Galatasaray (Group A)
The Champions League is back at Old Trafford after a one-year absence. But after the optimism of manager Erik ten Hag’s first season at Manchester United, it’s a different story this time round.
Saturday’s loss against Crystal Palace was met with boos from fans inside the stadium as the club’s chances of challenging for the Premier League title already look unlikely.
The Champions League visit of Galatasaray offers Ten Hag the chance to focus his attention elsewhere and he will hope a win can lift spirits.
United lost their first game in the group 4-3 against Bayern Munich. A second defeat would spark fears of an early exit.
Copenhagen vs. Bayern Munich (Group A)
Bayern Munich are still looking for consistency ahead of its visit to Copenhagen. The Bavarian powerhouse was somewhat fortunate to draw at Leipzig 2-2 in the Bundesliga on Saturday.
It also endured a nervy finale against Manchester United before prevailing 4-3 in their Champions League game last month.
Bayern midfielder Joshua Kimmich says, “We simply have problems performing consistently well over 90 minutes against top teams.” But Bayern are unbeaten in a competition record 35 group games (3 draws) while it has won each of its last 14 group games, also a record.
Copenhagen conceded two late goals to draw at Galatasaray 2-2 in their opening group game.
Lens vs. Arsenal (Group B)
Lens are finally getting some form together and faces Arsenal having won their previous two league games, and with big-money signing Elye Wahi finally on the scoresheet.
Things are going smoothly for free-scoring Arsenal, which is unbeaten so far this season and riding high in the Premier League.
The sides played each other in back-to-back seasons albeit in different European competitions. During the group stage of the Champions League during the 1999-2000 campaign, Lens held Arsenal to a draw at home and won 1-0 in an ill-tempered match held at Wembley Stadium. A player from each side was sent off near the end.
PSV vs. Sevilla (Group B)
PSV hosts Sevilla having won their last five home games in European competitions, but in the Champions League the Dutch club hasn’t won in 13 straight group-stage games, with nine losses and four draws.
Sevilla and PSV also faced each other in Europa League playoffs last season, with the Spanish club coming out on top 3-2 on aggregate en route to the title. Sevilla opened with a 1-1 draw at Lens, while PSV lost 4-0 at Arsenal.
Napoli vs. Real Madrid (Group C)
Napoli appears to have finally found its feet under new coach Rudi Garcia after a mixed start to the season.
Napoli has won their last two Serie A matches, scoring eight goals in the process, to halt a three-match winless run domestically in which they looked a shadow of the team that stormed to the Serie A title.
Victor Osimhen is also back to his best with two goals in the past two matches to take his tally to five for the season. Napoli needed an own-goal to win 2-1 at Braga in their opener.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was in charge of Napoli 2018-19, guiding the club to a second-place finish in the Italian league. He has faced Napoli as a coach 12 times, with nine wins, two losses and a draw.
Union Berlin vs. Braga (Group C)
Union Berlin hope to end a run of five straight defeats across all competitions when they host familiar foe Braga for its first “home” game in the Champions League.
Union are playing its home games in Berlin’s Olympiastadion, traditionally the home of crosstown rival Hertha Berlin, as it has more than three times the capacity of its own stadium – though the decision to move has been criticized by some Union supporters.
Union and Braga each won 1-0 at home when they met in the Europa League group stage last season. Both teams lost their Champions League opening games after conceding late goals, Union at Real Madrid, and Braga at home to Napoli.
Inter Milan vs. Benfica (Group D)
Both Inter Milan and Benfica have had strong starts to their domestic seasons but would have been expected to do better in their Champions League openers.
Inter needed a last-minute equalizer from Lautaro Martínez to snatch a 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad, while Benfica lost 2-0 at home to Salzburg after playing almost the entire match with 10 men following a 13th-minute red card for defender António Silva.
They have each won all but one of their matches domestically. Inter will be without the injured Marko Arnautovic, Davide Frattesi and Stefano Sensi but Juan Cuadrado is fit again after a month out and could feature.
Salzburg vs. Real Sociedad (Group D)
Real Sociedad make the trip to Austria boosted by a commanding 3-0 rout of Basque Country rival Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish league.
Japan international Takefusa Kubo impressed again for Sociedad scoring his second goal in two matches.
Sociedad opened their Champions League campaign, their first in nearly a decade, with a 1-1 draw at Inter Milan.
Two of the teams promoted to the Premier League this season go head-to-head at Kenilworth Road when Luton hosts Burnley.
Luton won for the first time in the Premier League when beating Everton 2-1 on Saturday. Burnley, however, are still waiting for its first league win back in the top flight.
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