Premier League clubs aim to pump life into their wobbly Champions League challenge when the world’s most famous club competition resumes on Tuesday and Wednesday at sixteen venues across Europe.
EPL clubs are respected across the continent after winning the trophy nicknamed Big Ears in two of the last three years but only Liverpool have maximum points going into match-day three.
Last season’s losing finalists Manchester City start their group A tie at Club Brugge in third place, and needing maximum points to overcome the Belgian champions who followed up a surprise 1-1 draw with Paris Saint Germain – Lionel Messi and all – with a startling 2-1 victory away to German moneybags RB Leipzig on match-day two.
City boss Pep Guardiola was mildly criticised for failure to deploy an orthodox centre forward in the 0-2 reverse at Parc des Princes. He could therefore deploy his only recognised number nine, Gabriel Jesus, in the position after leaving him out of Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Burnley.
Jesus’ Brazilian compatriot Ederson and Joao Cancelo are also to be recalled. In the other group game, PSG’s South American contingent – Messi, Neymar, Angel di Maria and Marquinhos are available for selection as the Parisians negotiate a tricky home time with unpredictable Leipzig.
Group B leaders Liverpool are counting on lethal marksman Mo Salah to continue his blistering start to the season when the six time European champions face Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano. Fondly referred to as Egyptian Pharaoh, Salah was described by his manager, Jurgen Klopp, as the world’s best player at this moment in time.
Spanish champions Atleti go into the game with extra days of rest as their weekend La Liga match at Deportivo Alaves was postponed. Porto aim to bounce back from 1-5 bludgeoning at the hands of Liverpool when they host AC Milan in the other group game.
All or nothing will be the name of the game when 1968, 1999 and 2008 Euro titlists Manchester United, currently third in group F, host Gian Piero Gasperini’s dangerous Atalanta side.
The Italians warmed up for Wednesday’s game at Old Trafford by whitewashing Empoli 4-1 in Serie A. In contrast, United were abject in falling 2-4 at Leicester City in a game in which the Champions League’s greatest ever marksman, Cristiano Ronaldo, was largely anonymous.
CR7 will thus be among the Red Devils players expected to go an extra mile for beleaguered manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, whose side have won just twice in their last seven outings across all competitions.
Reigning Euro Kings Chelsea are meanwhile hoping to bounce back from their 0-1 setback at Juventus on match-day two when they host Malmo at Stamford Bridge.
Blues supremo Thomas Tuchel made wholesale changes to his side for their Premier League win at Brentford, so even more changes can be expected on Wednesday.
Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger, Jorginho, Mason Mount and Kai Havertz are all pushing for a start as Chelsea gun for maximum points. Group leaders Juventus are at Russian champions Zenit St Petersburg.
Club Brugge v Manchester City
Paris St Germain v RB Leipzig
Atletico Madrid v Liverpool
FC Porto v AC Milan
Inter Milan v Sheriff Tiraspol,
Shakhtar Donetsk v Real Madrid
Ajax vs Dortmund
Besiktas vs Sporting Lisbon
Manchester United v Atalanta,
Young Boys v Villarreal
Chelsea v Malmo
Zenit St Petersburg v Juventus
Barcelona v Dynamo Kiev
Benfica v Bayern Munich,
RB Salzburg v Wolfsburg
Lille v Sevilla