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UEFA Champions League: Matchday One (A Look Ahead)

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The match-up most of us have been waiting for is here and highlights the second day of Matchday One in the UEFA Champions League.

FC Barcelona, the reigning champions, take on Inter Milan, in a match-up chock full of sub-plots and juicy match-ups. Samuel Eto'o looks to show Barcelona that it made a mistake by letting him go while Zlatan Ibrahimovic faces former Inter teammates who aren't too thrilled with him taking all the credit for the three Serie A titles they win with him at striker.

Inter-Barca is the best match-up of the day, but not the only good one. Lyon-Fiorentina and Standard Liege-Arsenal are also ones to watch.

Here is today's TV schedule:

2:30pm– FSC- Liverpool vs. Debreceni VSC

2:30pm– Setanta Sports USA- Standard Liege vs. Arsenal

2:45pm– FSE- Inter Milan vs. FC Barcelona

Remember, if you have DirecTV and the Sports Package, you can watch all eight matches.

Here is a closer look at today's eight match-ups:

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INTER MILAN vs. FC BARCELONA

The most highly-anticipated match-up of the group stage pits star strikers Samuel Eto'o and Zlatan Ibrahimovic against their former teams. Too many subplots to list, but there will be quality all over the field and the battle in midfield will be a can't-miss affair.

Best Match-up to Watch: Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. Marco Materazzi AND Samuel Eto'o vs. Carles Puyol. What more needs to be said?

LYON vs. FIORENTINA

The French power takes on a dangerous Italian club in the second-best match-up of the day. Lyon didn't win Ligue 1 last season, but re-loaded this summer and should be favored against a 'Viola'  team that lost more than it added this summer.

Best Match-up to Watch: Bafetimbi Gomis vs. Alessandro Gamberini. If you haven't heard of the French striker Gomis, you soon will as his move to Lyon should provide more exposure to one of the better young strikers in Europe. Gamberini is one of the best centerbacks in Serie A, making this a great match-up to watch.

STANDARD LIEGE vs. ARSENAL

Oguchi Onyewu's former club takes on an Arsenal side looking to regroup from a tough EPL loss to Manchester City. The Gunners are the favorite, but Liege boasts far more talent than people realize.

Best Match-up to Watch: Dieumerci Mbokani vs. Thomas Vermaelen. The Liege striker was one of the most sought-after players in the transfer market last summer but stayed in Belgium. He'll likely face off with another young standout in Vermaelen, who is off to a strong start with Arsenal.

VFB STUTTGART vs. RANGERS

German champs two years ago, Stuttgart comes into this year's Champions League with lower expectations, while Rangers is simply looking to erase the demons of last year's awful European campaign. Stuttgart, led by former Arsenal standouts Alexander Hleb and Jens Lehmann, will be the favorites.

Best Match-up to Watch: Pedro Mendes vs. Tomas Hitzlsperger. The two central midfielders are key to their team's attacks and the winner will be determined by the one who can create more.

OLYMPIAKOS vs. AZ ALKMAAR

The Dutch champions take on the traditional Greek powerhouse in a match with interesting storylines due to the recent firing of Olympiakos head coach Temuri Ketsbaia. Alkmaar knows about new managers, having lost Louis Van Gaal to Bayern Munich.

Best Match-up to Watch: Moussa Dembele vs. Olof Mellberg. One of the most exciting young forwards in Europe, Dembele is poised for a breakout season and this match-up against a tough veteran like Mellberg should provide a great platform for the Belgian striker to show off his skills.

DYNAMO KIEV vs. RUBIN KAZAN

Ukraine vs. Russia in a battle that is sure to have Vladimir Putin riled up. Rubin Kazan ran away with the Russian League title last season and did so without the high-profile names that some other Russian clubs boast. Speaking of big names, Dynamo Kiev signed Andriy Shevchenko and this match should be the first step toward seeing if the former AC Milan star has anything left.

Best Match-up to Watch: Shevchenko vs. Cesar Navas. Rubin Kazan spent big money on Navas and he'll need to show his worth against Schevchenko, who will be eager to make a strong return to his old club Dynamo.

SEVILLA vs. FC UNIREA URZICENI

If you've never heard of the Romanian champions and first-time Champions League participants, don't worry. You are not alone. What can we tell you about Unirea Urziceni? The club moved up to the Romanian First Division in 2006 and is managed by former Romanian national team star and Chelsea defender Dan Petrescu. Yes, the same Petrescu who scored the game-winning goal against the United States in the 1994 World Cup.

LIVERPOOL vs. DEBRECENI VSC

Yes, we know even less about the Hungarian club set to face Liverpool. Don't expect a close match.

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What do you think of today's match-ups? Who do you see winning the Inter-Barcelona match-up? Are you rooting for the underdogs today? Still hold a grudge against Petrescu for that goal in '94?

Share your thoughts below.

Comments

  1. I think FSC put Barca-Inter on later because it would be the “prime time” match of the night. 7 pm EST is a better time slot than 2:30 EST even though most fans are willing to watch live. Increased advertiser $$$ for FSC and a smart business move. I think it has less to do with favoring an English team than putting the best match on in prime time. IMO.

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  2. I understand jon’s point, though. For all that I appreciate Fox putting more Champions League matches, ESPN would have had the best match on live. FSE is available in this country almost exclusively in Spanish language packages at additional cost. Inter-Barca should have been the lead game on BOTH networks– either delay the Liverpool match or put it on regional FSNs.

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  3. Wish they had english language comentary on it though (like they do with some of the South American matches – English for the channel in the sports tier and Spanish for the one in the Spanish tier and international feed). Oh well. I have a sneeking suspicion that I forgot to set the DVR for today (setting it a lot lately) so I might just be catching a re-play of the matches anyway whenever FSC airs them anyway (and I won’t be home in time to catch the 6:00pm showing of Barca-Inter).

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  4. Why isn’t Barca – Inter on until 6 pm in English? I’m really sick of FSC blatantly favoring English teams with their scheduling, especially when it’s in lieu of better programming.

    (SBI-FSC is an American channel, Fox Sports Espanol is global. Just a few more viewers, just a few…million more viewers. That’s why it got the top game. I’m probably doing a running commentary so you can always mute it and read my commentary instead.)

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