The UEFA Champions League is back in business on Tuesday when the competition’s group stage boasting some of the world’s heavy-hitters.
Headlining Tuesday’s action is a clash between two of the world’s elite, as Paris Saint-Germain plays host to Arsenal. However, the matchup is far from the only marquee clash of the day, as Fabian Johnson’s Borussia Monchengladbach faces Manchester City while Celtic looks for another UCL upset against Barcelona.
Elsewhere, reigning runners-up Atletico Madrid return to action in a meeting with Dutch powerhouse PSV Eindhoven. Meanwhile, Bayern Munich looks to kickstart their first UCL campaign under Carlo Ancelotti.
Here’s a closer look at all of Tuesday’s UCL action:
ARSENAL vs. PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Two of the world’s most-followed clubs collide on Tuesday in Paris.
The two sides boast high-profile attacks, but it is the presence of some of the clubs’ top defenders that will give Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery cause for optimism. Thiago Silva and Laurent Koscielny look set to join their respective teams despite injuries, aiding a pair of backlines that will have their work cut out for them. One PSG attacker who looks like he will not get a chance on Tuesday is Hatem Ben Arfa, who has reportedly been left out of the club’s squad ahead of Tuesday’s match.
BARCELONA vs. CELTIC
Tuesday’s clash between Barcelona and Celtic is one loaded with storylines.
The two historic clubs have collided eight times in UCL play, with Celtic earning just a draw and a win in those eight matches. The win, though, was a memorable one, as the Scottish side took down Barca, 2-1, in memorable fashion back in 2012. This Barcelona team, however, is a vastly different one, as Celtic will now contest with a front three of Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, the latter of whom will face off with his former manager at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers. Celtic captain Scott Brown has been declared fit, while Andres Iniesta also looks set to play in Tuesday’s match.
MANCHESTER CITY vs. BORUSSIA MONCHENGBLADBACH
Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengbladbach face a difficult start to the UEFA Champions League.
The German club is set to visit the Etihad Stadium, where they will take on a Manchester City team that has surged to the top of the Premier League. Led by the management of Pep Guardiola and the spectacular form of Kevin De Bruyne, Man City has earned all 12 points through four games, with their most recent triumph coming via a win over Manchester United. While Sergio Aguero will return to the Man City squad after serving the first of his three-game Premier League ban, Monchengbladbach will be without pacey winger Patrick Hermann on the right side.
PSV EINDHOVEN vs. ATLETICO MADRID
Atletico Madrid’s 2015-16 Champions League run ended in heartbreak, and the Spanish side’s run through this season’s competition will begin with a formidable opponent.
Diego Simeone’s side road a wave of strong defending and timely goals all the way to last season’s finale before falling to rivals Real Madrid in penalty kicks. The club has kept its spine together, including goalscorer Antoine Griezmann and defensive rock Diego Godin, with the former scoring two goals over the weekend in a 4-0 win over Celta Vigo. Their opponents, PSV Eindhoven, are annually atop the Dutch league, and feature Mexican star Andres Guardado, goalscorer Luke de Jong and up-and-coming fullback Jetro Willems.
BAYERN MUNICH vs. ROSTOV
Anything less than a win on Tuesday would be a colossal failure for Bayern Munich.
The German champions take on Russia side Rostov, a club making its first Champions League appearance. Unbeaten so far this season, Bayern are flying high behind Robert Lewandowski, who has fired eight goals in his last four games for club and country. Winger Douglas Costa may return to the mix on Tuesday, while Bayern are set to be without Jerome Boateng, Arjen Robben and Kingsley Coman due to injury.
NAPOLI vs. DYNAMO KIEV
Napoli has a much different heading into Tuesday’s opener against Dynamo Kiev, but the Italian club will need to shake off the departure of Gonzalo Higuain to begin the Champions League group stage on the right foot.
In Higuain’s place, Napoli signed Arkadiusz Milik, who scored 21 goals in 31 appearances for Ajax last season. The Polish star is far from Higuain’s level, but at just 22-years-old, Milik has room to grow within an attack that includes playmakers like Dries Mertens and Jose Callejon. Their opponents, Dynamo Kiev, are fresh off a run to the Round of 16 that saw the Ukranian side fall to Manchester City, 3-1, on aggregate.
BENFICA vs. BESIKTAS
Injuries have plagued Portuguese side Benfica, who face an uphill battle against Turkish powerhouse Besiktas.
Forwards Jonas, Kostas Mitroglou and Raúl Jiménez are all out action, while defender Jardel is also set to miss out due to injury. With so many key players gone, Benfica will rely on playmaker Pizzi, Argentinian Eduardo Salvio and Peruvian star Andre Carillo to open up the Besiktas backline. On the other side, Besiktas will look to rally behind a viscious midfield group that features Atiba Hutchinson, Gokhan Inler and Euro 2016 winner Ricardo Quaresma.
FC BASEL vs. LUDOGORETS
Placed in a group with Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain, both FC Basel and Ludogorets face uphill battles when it comes to escaping the group stage. Those battles begin Tuesday with a match that is almost a must-win if either side hopes to advance.
For the second time in three seasons, the two sides matchup in group play. Out of the two, Basel is the team in better form, having won eight in a row to begin their 2016-17 campaign. Speedster Seydou Doumbia remains Basel’s danger up front, as Basel looks to replicate a 4-0 beating they placed on the Bulgarian side two years ago.
What do you expect from Tuesday’s Champions League action? Which teams do you see earning results?
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