October 24, 2017

Champions League Preview: Clash of the Titans on Matchday 2

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid (Tuesday 19:45 BST)

Imperious in the league so far this season, BVB will want to make up for their disappointing defeat to Tottenham on matchday 1 when they face reigning champions Real Madrid at the Signal Iduna Park on Tuesday. The scoreline at Wembley flattered Spurs a little, and had Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goal not been wrongly disallowed for offside, then Dortmund would be happier going into the clash with Madrid.

Curiously, the two sides also met on matchday 2 last season in Group F when they played out a 2-2 draw and the fact the Schwarzgelben actually topped the group last season and were unbeaten will also give them confidence.

Zinedine Zidane’s side became the first side in the Champions League era to defend their title when beating Juventus last year, but his stellar squad have not hit top form by any means so far this season. Los Blancos lost at home to Real Betis last Wednesday after only drawing their previous two home games against Valencia and Levante.

They did however get back to winning ways at the weekend with a 2-1 win at Alaves. They however already find themselves trailing rivals Barcelona by seven points in La Liga. Matchday 1 in the Champions League saw the Spanish giants ease past APOEL 3-0 with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo (2) and Sergio Ramos.

For Dortmund it will be especially exciting for BVB midfielder Nuri Şahin, who faces his former club after missing out on both games last season. After Saturday’s emphatic 6-1 win over Borussia Mönchengladbach, confidence will be sky-high amongst Peter Bosz’s side.

One to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo

Who else? The current Ballon d’Or holder will be fresh having been forced to sit out the first four league matches for the red card he received in the Spanish Super Copa for getting sent off and pushing the referee. He scored at the Signal Iduna Park last season and has an astonishing 108 goals in 145 Champions League games alone.

Beşiktaş v RB Leipzig (Tuesday 19:45 BST)

After winning their first ever Champions League point on their competition debut at home to Monaco, it is a daunting trip to Istanbul for RB Leipzig this week as they travel to take on Beşiktaş.

The Turkish champions faced a big Istanbul derby at the weekend against arch-rivals Fenerbahce and it certainly was an eventful affair. Fenerbahce ran out 2-1 winners, but there were five red cards shown- three for Beşiktaş with Atiba Hutchinson, Oguzhan Ozyakup and Ricardo Quaresma all given their marching orders.

Matchday 1 of this season’s Champions League saw them come away with an impressive 3-1 away win at FC Porto and the Black Eagles boast a squad with established stars such as Brazilian defender Pepe, Quaresma, Chilean midfielder Gary Medel and Spanish striker Alvaro Negredo.

Leipzig have had an indifferent start this season, but did get back to winning ways with a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt at the weekend. Naby Keita, suspended in the Bundesliga, should return to make his first Champions League appearance on Tuesday.

One to watch: Anderson Talisca

The left-footed Brazilian provides the creativity and guile amongst a side known for its hard work and discipline. Talisca scores spectacular goals and is a danger at set-pieces. He was reportedly a summer transfer target for Manchester United and it is understandable to see why. He scored on matchday 1 against Porto, which he would have really enjoyed seeing as though he is on loan from Benfica.

Paris St Germain v Bayern Munich (Wednesday 19:45 BST)

This is set to be a real cracker and is a case of traditional power against new money. Five-time winners Bayern Munich against the Parisian side being funded by Qatar with one clear target- to win the Champions League.

Whether you agree or not with the way they are going about things, PSG are a real threat and have to count amongst the favourites for this year’s competition. They started the season with six straight wins, but could only get a 0-0 draw at the weekend away at Montpellier.

It isn’t all sweetness and light at the Parc des Princes with relations between star strikers Edinson Cavani and Neymar frosty to say the least with the two of them reportedly almost coming to blows over who takes set-pieces.

The last time the two met was back in the 2000/01 Champions League season where PSG won 1-0 at home, but then Bayern gained revenge with a 2-0 win back at the Olympiastadion.

The pressure is Bayern to perform though with a far from stellar start to the season where they have lost to Hoffenheim and were held to a 2-2 by Wolfsburg on Friday. Both sides won their group opener with PSG thrashing Celtic 5-0 while Bayern overcame Belgians Anderlecht 3-0.

One to watch: Neymar

Only one to watch? With a forward line of such power, focusing on just one player would be folly, but all eyes will be on world record transfer Neymar as the Brazilian looks to justify (if that is at all possible!) his €222 million transfer fee.

The former Barcelona forward already has four goals and four assists in Ligue 1 so far and scored once against Celtic and set up Kylian Mbappé for his goal.

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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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