Preview: Defending champion Man City at Leipzig; Newcastle host PSG in Champions League

AP , Wednesday 4 Oct 2023

A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:

Manchester City
Manchester City s Dutch defender #06 Nathan Ake (L) fights for the ball with Red Star s Ghanaian forward #30 Osman Bukari during the UEFA Champions League Group G football match between Manchester City and FC Crvena Zvezda (Red Star Belgrade) at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on September 19, 2023. Photo: AFP


Champions League

Atletico Madrid vs. Feyenoord (Group E)

Atletico Madrid will try to extend their winning streak to four matches when they host Feyenoord. Diego Simeone’s team has won three in a row in the Spanish league, including 3-1 against city rival Real Madrid, since drawing 1-1 with Lazio in its Champions League opener.

Feyenoord have won six straight in all competitions, including 2-0 in the tournament opener against Celtic.

Celtic vs. Lazio (Group E)

Having lost 2-0 to Feyenoord, Celtic already face a struggle to meet manager Brendan Rodgers’ target of remaining in Europe beyond 2023. Whether it be qualifying for the round of 16 or dropping down into the Europa League, Rodgers wants his team in continental competition in the New Year.

Celtic host Lazio, which drew 1-1 with Atletico Madrid in its opening group game after goalkeeper Ivan Provedel headed in a late equalizer.

Lazio are enduring a miserable start to the league season with just two wins in seven matches.

Dortmund vs. AC Milan (Group F)

Borussia Dortmund will be expected to produce a more spirited performance against AC Milan than they did in its opening loss at Paris Saint-Germain, especially in front of their own fans.

Dortmund coach Edin Terzic, sporting director Sebastian Kehl and club advisor Matthias Sammer all criticized the team after their 2-0 loss in Paris.

They have since eked out a 1-0 win over in-form Wolfsburg and on Friday they defeated Hoffenheim 3-1 away despite playing the last 20 minutes with a player less. They were the first signs that Dortmund are finally getting over the loss of Jude Bellingham to Real Madrid in the offseason.

Milan drew at Newcastle 0-0 in their opening game. That followed immediately after a 5-1 humiliation in the Serie A derby but the Rossoneri have won three league games since then to sit level with Inter Milan at the top of the Italian standings.

Coach Stefano Pioli has been playing recorded sounds from Dortmund home games to prepare his team for the atmosphere in the stadium.

Newcastle vs. PSG (Group F)

Newcastle’s return to the Champions League saw they drawn in a tough group with European giants Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund. And no matchup in the group is more intriguing than Saudi-backed Newcastle vs. Qatari-owned PSG.

Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) has already made a big impression on Newcastle after backing a takeover of the club in 2021. Its financial backing has led the Magpies back into the Champions League to compete with Europe’s biggest clubs once again.

PSG, meanwhile, have signed some of the greatest players in the world since being bought by Qatari Sports Investments (QSI) including Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar.

Messi and Neymar left in the summer and Mbappe’s contract only runs until the end of the season. This could be his last chance to lead PSG to the Champions League title.

Leipzig vs. Manchester City (Group G)

Leipzig are confident of avoiding a repeat of the 7-0 loss it endured on their last visit to Manchester City. Leipzig drew at Bayern Munich 2-2 on Saturday in the Bundesliga, where an opening loss to Bayer Leverkusen is the team’s only defeat so far this season.

New signings Xavi Simons, Lois Openda and Benjamin Sesko have quickly settled in with nine goals between them in the Bundesliga so far.

Both City and Leipzig won their opening games in Group G.

Red Star Belgrade vs. Young Boys (Group G)

Red Star Belgrade took an unlikely halftime lead at Etihad Stadium in their Champions League opener at Manchester City before losing 3-1 to the defending European champions. They will hope to take — and keep the lead at home against Young Boys.

The Swiss club also lost their opener 3-1 at home to Leipzig.

Porto vs. Barcelona (Group H)

Forward Joao Felix heads back to Portugal when Barcelona faces Porto looking for their second win in the tournament.

Felix played for Porto as a youngster before eventually joining fierce rival Benfica at age 15. He was signed by Atletico Madrid in 2019.

Barcelona, which opened with a 5-0 rout of Antwerp at home, will be without Pedri, Frenkie de Jong and Raphinha because of injuries.

Porto beat Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 in its first game. They had won six and drawn one in the Portuguese league before they lost at Benfica 1-0 on Friday.

Antwerp vs. Shakhtar Donetsk (Group H)

After Antwerp was thrashed 5-0 by Barcelona, former Belgium international Toby Alderweireld said such a result would perhaps create anger within the Belgian club and prompt a strong reaction. It turns out to be more wishful thinking than reality. Antwerp have drawn their last three games 0-0 and are on a run of four games without a goal.

Shakhtar Donetsk also lost their opening match in Group H, a 3-1 defeat to Porto. The Ukrainian team are again in exile this season because of the war in their country.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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