Champions League Preview: Bundesliga Best Face Matchday 2

It is matchday 2 in the Champions League and after a good start to the group stage the four German clubs are back in action this week. Bayern find themselves needing a win to get themselves out of a mini-crisis, while new leaders Borussia Dortmund are seeking a second win.

Hoffenheim and Schalke were both held in their group openers and will want to push on. That will be easier said than done for Julian Nagelsmann, who faces the might of English moneybags Manchester City in a real Champions League David vs Goliath battle.

Hoffenheim v Manchester City (Tuesday 17:55 BST)

Now this is what being in the Champions League is all about for Hoffenheim- being able to measure themselves against one of Europe’s elite clubs. The arrival of Pep Guardiola’s Premier League champions to the Rhein-Neckar Arena will be the biggest night of continental football in the club’s history.

After opening their Group F account with a 2-2 draw away at Shakhtar Donetsk, it will be an even bigger challenge to secure their first three points against one of this year’s Champions League favourites. Julian Nagelsmann will be pitting his wits against Guardiola for the first time. The Spaniard won three consecutive titles with Bayern, but didn’t face the Bundesliga’s coaching prodigy during his time in Bavaria.

Hoffenheim suffered a 2-1 home defeat to RB Leipzig at the weekend, while City secured top spot in the Premier League with a comfortable 2-0 home win over Brighton. There will be plenty of ex-Bundesliga stars on show in Sinsheim with the likes of Leroy Sané, Vincent Kompany, Ilkay Gundogan, and Kevin De Bruyne in the Citizen’s squad.

One to watch: Sergio Aguero

Just one? Hoffenheim will have to watch every single one of Manchester City’s line-up on Tuesday, but particular attention will need to go on striker Kun Aguero. With 206 goals the Argentine is City’s leading goalscorer of all-time and he will be looking to add another scalp to his list of clubs he’s scored against.

The Hoffenheim back four has looked a little fragile this season with injuries and poor form affecting them. That is a potential recipe for disaster if Aguero is in his usual mood.

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Bayern Munich v Ajax (Tuesday 20:00 BST)

To those of a certain age, seeing the names of these two clubs side-by-side conjures up nostalgic images from the 1970’s when Bayern and Ajax dominated European football for pretty much an entire decade. The Dutch giants won the European Cup three years in succession between 1971 and 1973 before Bayern achieved the same feat between 1974 and 1976.

Surprisingly for two clubs of such stature, there have only been eight competitive meetings between the two down the years. Both have won three and there have been two draws. The last meeting came back in December 2004 when they shared a 2-2 in Amsterdam in the Champions League.

Bayern find themselves in the midst of a slight blip at the moment after a seemingly faultless start to the season. A dropped point at home to Augsburg in midweek was followed at the weekend by a first defeat to Hertha Berlin. Is this a good or bad time to be facing a wounded Bayern?

Ajax have also started the season well with five wins from seven games, although they already find themselves five points behind unbeaten leaders PSV Eindhoven. At the weekend they prepared for their trip to Bavaria by beating Fortuna Sittard 2-0 on the road.

One to watch: Hakim Ziyech

The Moroccan has already scored three and provided three league assists this season and already has two Champions League goals from the qualifying rounds.

The 25-year-old scored nine goals and added 14 assists in 34 appearances for Ajax last season as they finished second in the Eredivisie. This led to him being winning the Dutch Footballer of the Year award. He was poised to join Roma in the summer, but the deal fell through and he has now been rewarded with a new improved contract with de Godenzonen.

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Lokomotiv Moscow v Schalke (Wednesday 17:55 BST)

After finally ending their abysmal start to the Bundesliga season with a first win at the weekend, Schalke will be looking to build upon that when they travel to the Russian capital to face last season’s surprise champions.

On arrival there will be a reunion with Schalke legend Benedikt Höwedes, who signed for the Krasno-zelyonyye (Red-Greens) in the summer after his loan at Juventus. Also part of the Lokomotiv set-up is former Königsblauen striker Jefferson Farfan, who made 170 appearances for the club between 2008 and 2015 scoring 39 goals.

The Russian champions are off the pace in the early part of the Premier League with three wins, three draws and three defeats in their opening nine games and find themselves a full ten points behind Zenit St Petersburg. Having lost their opening Group D match 3-0 away at Galatasaray, Yuri Semin’s side will be desperate to make the most of home advantage when the Germans visit the Lokomotiv Stadium.

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Schalke finally sealed their first league points of the season at the weekend with a 1-0 win over Mainz and will want to follow that up with a first three points in the Champions League after their opening week draw at home to FC Porto. If Domenico Tedesco’s side have serious ambitions of taking one of the top two spots in the group, then getting points away against both Lokomotiv and Galatasaray could hold the key.

One to watch: Aleksei Miranchuk

Captain Igor Denisov is out with a back problem, and Russian international striker Fedor Smolov will also miss out with a shoulder injury, so the one to watch could well be youngster Aleksei Miranchuk.

The 22-year-old attacking wide midfielder scored eight goals in all competitions last season and provided eleven assists leading to reported interest from Milan.

Borussia Dortmund v Monaco (Wednesday 20:00 BST)

The new Bundesliga league leaders welcome French side AS Monaco to the Signal Iduna Park on Wednesday as Lucien Favre’s side look to continue their good early season form.

An improved performance in the league will be the priority this season, but the Schwarzgelben will also be looking to improve upon last season’s dismal Champions League record where they went winless in their group and were twice held by minnows APOEL.

The French side were also winless in their group last season, but unlike Dortmund have a pretty dismal start to their Ligue 1 campaign. With eight games played the Monégasques have just one win under their belt and have failed to win any of their last eight competitive outings which included a 2-1 loss to Atletico Madrid in their Champions League opener.

One to watch: Radamel Falcao

Form is temporary but class is permanent and Colombian striker Radamel Falcao epitomises that. Monaco have been poor thus far this season, but he has three goals and an assist to his credit.

He has scored everywhere he has played so the Dortmund defence have been warned.

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Mathew Burt

A year spent living in Bremen got Mathew hooked on the Bundesliga with regular visits to the Weser Stadion getting in the way of his studies. Back in the UK now, he still keenly follows the Grün-Weißen and German football in general. Follow him on Twitter @matburt74.

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