Bayern's Kim Min-jae, from left, Alphonso Davies, Thomas Mueller, Harry Kane, Joshua Kimmich and Leroy Sane practice during a training session in Munich, Germany, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2023 prior to the Champions League group A match between Bayern Munich and Manchester United. Photo: AP
Bayern Munich vs. Manchester United (Group A)
Manchester United will be without injured defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as they face the daunting trip to Munich.
The season has not started as planned for Erik ten Hag’s team after opening the Premier League with three losses in their first five games.
Bayern, which have won the last 11 Bundesliga titles in a row, will measure their success this season on how far they progresses in the Champions League.
The Bavarian powerhouse are as yet unbeaten this season, though did drop their first points in a 2-2 draw at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Galatasaray host Copenhagen in the other group game.
Arsenal vs. PSV Eindhoven (Group B)
After qualifying for the Champions League for 19 straight years under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal have had to wait six years to get back into the competition.
And it’s clear the team have been looking forward to this moment. The Champions League theme tune was blaring from the speakers in the gym at the club’s training center this week, striker Gabriel Jesus said.
Jesus could make his first start of the season following a knee injury, while manager Mikel Arteta will have to decide how many other players to rotate ahead of a crucial north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday.
PSV have won all four of their league games so far and cannot be taken lightly, having scored 13 goals while conceding just one in that stretch.
Sevilla host Lens in the other group game.
Real Madrid vs. Union Berlin (Group C)
Real Madrid will be without right back Dani Carvajal against newcomer Union Berlin at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Carvajal was injured in training on Tuesday.
Coach Carlo Ancelotti said Lucas Vazquez will be Carvajal’s replacement. Forward Vinicius Junior had already been ruled out because of an injury.
The record 14-time European champions are making their 27th consecutive appearance in the competition’s group stage, while Union Berlin are making their tournament debut.
Madrid started the season with five straight wins in the Spanish league.
Braga vs. Napoli (Group C)
Napoli blew their opponents apart in last year’s group stage – winning five of their six matches and scoring 20 goals.
That was part of a fantastic season for the Italian club, which saw they end a 33-year wait for the Serie A title.
However, they changed coach in the offseason with Rudi Garcia coming in for Luciano Spalletti – who left the club saying he needed a break before replacing Roberto Mancini as Italy coach following the latter’s sudden resignation.
Napoli won their first two matches under Garcia before losing to Lazio and having to fight back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw at Genoa last weekend.
Braga lost at the weekend but had opened the Portuguese season with a draw and a win.
Their last Champions League appearance was in 2012 when they won just one of their group stage matches.
Real Sociedad vs. Inter Milan (Group D)
Last season’s runner-up Inter Milan head into their Champions League opener at Real Sociedad coming off a 5-1 win over city rival AC Milan in the derby on Saturday to maintain their perfect start to the season – the only team in Serie A to have won all their four matches.
That goal was the only one Inter have conceded so far this campaign. New signing Marcus Thuram has particularly impressed.
Inter will be without one of their key players, however, as midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has been ruled out of the trip to Spain with a thigh strain.
Sociedad lost at Real Madrid at the weekend.
They drew their first three matches before beating Granada in the previous round. This is Sociedad’s first season in the Champions League in 10 years. The last time it made it out of the group stage was in the 2003-04 season.
Benfica vs. Salzburg (Group D)
The Portuguese champion host the Austrian champion in a meeting between two teams with an eye on getting out of the group at Sociedad or Inter’s expense.
Benfica was a Champions League quarterfinalist in each of the last two seasons and Salzburg reached the last 16 in 2021-22.
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