The UEFA champions league season is getting under way this evening. PML Daily’s Shaban Lubega takes you through the action today.
Manchester United(Eng) vs FC Basel(Swi).
Old Trafford, Manchester.
Refree: Ruddy Buquet(France).
Jose Mourinho will lead Manchester United in the champions league for the first time this evening against a side that they have never beaten at home.
United used the Europa league route to confirm their participation in the champions league this season after finishing sixth in the league last season.
Both teams (United and Basel) have drawn all of their games at the famous Old Trafford stadium. United are on the back of a two all draw with Stock city in the league, the first points they have drawn all season having won their first three games.
For the home game against Basel, they are to be without the suspended pair of Eric Baily and Phil Jones which means Swedish defender Victor Lindolf will most likely partner Chris Smalling at the heart of the defence.
The only injury concerns are Luke Shaw and Ashley Young but Maroune Fellaini is subject to a late fitness test after over coming an injury that ruled him out of Saturday’s draw away to Stock.
Manchester Utd 2-1 Basel.
Although united have always found it hard against Basel in the past, Mourinho is a man who always seems to know how to get results against sides like Basel who are currently poor in terms of form having not won any of their last three games.
Celtic(Sco) vs PSG(Fra)
Celtic Park, Glasgow
Refree: Daniel Orsato(Italy)
With striker Leigh Griffiths passed fit for tonight’s encounter, Celtic have sure got a major boost for the visit of French giants PSG.
Griffiths misses Friday’s 4-1 win over Hamilton Academical but will be expected to start as fellow striker Moussa Dembele has been ruled out along with defenders Dedryik Boyata and Erick Sviatchenko.
The Scotish champions take on in form PSG who thrashed Metz on the same day 5-1 with their star trio of Kyrian Mbappe, Neymar Jr and Edinson Cavani all on the score sheet.
PSG would want to go one better of last season when their where eliminated by Barcelona in the quater finals 6-5 on aggregate but tonights encounter comes too soon for midfielders Angel Di Maria and Javier Pastore who are both out injured.
Marco Verrati is expected to start after missing the Metz game through suspension.
Celtic 1-3 PSG.
If PSG are to be known as heavy wights in Europe, they should win games like this comfortably and thats what i see them doing tonight.
Barcelona((Spa) vs Juventus(Ita)
Camp Nou, Barcelona
Refree: Damir Skomina(Slovenia)
A repeat of last season’s quater final in this one as French champions Juventus who eliminated Barcelona last season without conceeding a single goal travel to the Camp Nou on day one.
Barcelona who are on top of the table in La liga nad four points clear of rivals Real Madrid start life in Europe minus Neymar.
His replacement Ousman Dembele came off the bench and assisted Luis Suarez’s goal in the 5-0 drabbing of Espanyol on Saturday and is expected to start.
Juventus are also on top in the Serie A and won easily over the weekend 3-0 against Chievo Verona despite resting several players.
These two teams have face each other five times in the past with Barcelona winning only once in the champions league final 2015.
Barcelona 2-1 Juventus.
With Juventus having lost only once in the last 15 games in the group stages, it will be hard to break them down but with Messi who scored a hattrick on Saturday on form, I see Barca edging this one.
Chelsea(Eng) vs Qarabag(Arz)
Stanford Bridge, London
Refree: Anastasios Sidiropoulos(Greece).
Chelsea return to the champions league after missing out last season and have lost only once in the last 13 in the group stages.
Debutants Qarabag couldn’t have got a tougher test in thier firt game in the champions league than they will have on their hands today against English champions Chelsea.
Qarabag won thier final qualification game on away goals against Copenhagen but this is a different test all together.
Chelsea will have Edin Hazard on the bench tonight as he completes his recovery from a length lay out but captain Gary Cahill is expected to start after completing his domestic ban over the weekend.
New signing Danny Drinkwater is still out nursing a calf injury so he is not expected to feature.
Chelsea 4-0 Qarabag.
With only Qarabag’s travel to England ending in a 3-1 loss to Spurs, i dont see that changing as Chelsea will definatly over power them at Stanford bridge.
Bayern(Ger) vs Anderlect(Bel).
Allianz Arena, Munich
Refree: Paolo Tagliavento.
German champions go into the first game of the champions league on the back of a 2-0 defeat to Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.
The last meeting between the two side came in 2008 as Anderlect won away to Bayern but alot has changed now and it will be a miracal sort of if they can do it again.
This will surely be Carlo Anchelotti’s last season if he fails to win the European most coverted trophy having lost in the semi finals on all of thier last three occassions.
Luckily for them, the oppostion in Anderlect are so poor at the moment having won only once in the last four games and that win coming over the weekend against Lokeren.
Bayern 4-1 Anderlect.
Bayern are traditionally a strong side at home and i dont see that changing today against Anderlect.
Benfica(Por) vs CSKA Moskova(Rus).
Estadio do Sport, Lisbon
Refree: Alberto Undiano(Spain)
Benfica have won all of the last three league titles in Portugal but have failed to replicate that form in Europe.
They always seem to get out of the group and will need a clean start here against a CSKA Moskova side who dont always win away from home.
CSKA eliminated Young Boys of Switzerland in the final round of qualifiers.
Benfica 2-0 CSKA Moskova
Traditionally, Portugues side are so sturbon at home and although Benfica lost two key players in the summer, i dont see CSKA causing an upset.
Roma(Ita) vs Atheletico Madrid((Spa).
Estadio Olympico, Roma
Refree: Milorad Mazic(Serbia).
Roma have not played competitive football in over two weeks now after thier league game against Sampdoria was post poned.
It may be an advantage in a sense that they are the fresher of the two side with Athletico playing and drawing away to Valencia over the weekend.
Athletico have become one of the strongest side in Europe of late and will surely pose a big threat tonight against the Romans.
This will be the first meeting between the two sides.
Roma 0-0 Athletico Madrid.
Atheletico always struggles away from home in Europe and i dont think today will be an exception.
Roma on the other hand dont have enough power to take all three points and will surely struggle to find the back of the net.
Olympiacos(Gre) vs Sporting Lisbon(Por).
Stadio Georgios Karaiskaki, Piraeus
Refree: Viktor Kassai.
Two inform sides in Olympiakos and Sporting meet today in the first group game of the 2017/18 season.
Both reams have won four of their last five in all competitions.
Their only meeting was in a club friendly with Sporting winning 1-0.
Olympiakos 2-1 Sporting Lisbon.
The Stadio Georgios is a hard place to play in especially when you are an away side.
All I can see here is a home win as Sporting will surely find it difficult taking the initiative