A classic, the defending champion and one of the favorites and the greatest scorer in the history of the tournament. These are just some of the attractions from the beginning of the group stage of the Champions League 2021/22. The competition returns with renewed Barcelona face to face with one of their recent traumas, Bayern Munich, Chelsea in action, and Cristiano Ronaldo returning to play for Manchester United in the tournament.
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The kickoff of the Champions League will be with games from groups E, F, G and H. The others, including the possible debut of the MMN trio (Messi, Mbappé and Neymar) in PSG, kick off this Wednesday. Check out more details and what to expect from this Tuesday’s matches:
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- 16h Barcelona x Bayern Munich (real time in ge)
- 4:00 pm Dynamo Kiev vs Benfica
In a financial crisis, beaten down by the departure of its biggest idol and under renovation, the Barcelona debut in the Champions League against the rival who imposed the biggest defeat in its history. Just over a year later from that 8 to 2, the Catalans will receive the Bayern Munchen at Camp Nou.
Philippe Coutinho, training for Barcelona on the eve of the match against Bayern: expectation is for the Brazilian’s return — Photo: Miguel Ruiz/FC Barcelona
The two are favorites in the bracket, but Barça need to give the group and fans a boost after the turbulent transfer window, which saw 12 players leave. Ronald Koeaman, who was not the coach in the historic rout of the Bavarians in Portugal, reiterated that the club needs to react and think about the future.
– It was a shock (Messi’s departure from Barcelona). There was an accumulation of sensations difficult to digest. But we have to change the chip. We are in a new season and we will have to get used to playing without Leo.
Symbol of Bayern and present in the 8-2 against Barça, goalkeeper Neuer analyzed the situation of the Spaniards at the moment and admitted that he expects a team with greater caution after Messi’s departure.
– I think the players who play on the team now will also assume more responsibilities among themselves, as Messi is no longer on the team. That burden will be divided among them. And I think that’s something that we should look at, how they’re going to present themselves, because I think they’re going to be more defensive.
Barça still don’t have Agüero, Ansu Fati and Dembélé, all injured, but may have the first few minutes of Philippe Coutinho after more than nine months. Recovered from a knee injury, the Brazilian received praise from Koeman before the match against Bayern. On the German side, Coman and Gnabry are doubtful.
In the other Group E game, coach Jorge Jesus returns to the Champions League group stage after four years and after the failure of last season, when he fell out of the previous stage. O Benfica debut against Dynamo Kiev, away from home, and will not have Brazilian defender Lucas Veríssimo, who is suspended after being sent off against PSV in the playoffs.
– I look at Dynamo Kiev as I look at Barcelona or Bayern Munich. They have five starting players in the Ukraine national team, which recently drew with France. But this is a sign of appreciation of the opponent, nothing more, because Benfica is able to fight with everyone in the group for victories – analyzed the former Flamengo coach.
Smiling Jorge Jesus, at a press conference on the eve of his return to the Champions League group stage: coach is confident with Benfica — Photo: Miguel A. Lopes/EFE
- 1:45 pm Young Boys vs Manchester United (real time in ge)
- 4:00 pm Villarreal x Atalanta
One of the favorites for the title debuts in Bern, Switzerland. Cristiano Ronaldo returns to the field in the Champions League with the shirt of the team that gave him his first title. After the triumphant return to Manchester United last Saturday, the 36-year-old Portuguese star is confirmed for the match against Young Boys, this Tuesday.
Goalkeeper De Gea praised the impact it has been for the group to have Cristiano Ronaldo in the team.
– It’s great to have Cristiano back at home. I think he shows his impact from day one, he scored two very important goals and with the qualities you know. Cristiano’s experience is incredible, he is already a legend at the club and it’s great to have him back. It’s huge for us – declared the Spanish goalkeeper.
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For United, Cristiano scored just 15 of the 134 goals he has in the history of the Champions League. But he won the title in 2008. The return to the club, which has one of the best squads in Europe, gives the player the chance to have a better performance in the tournament.
For Juve, CR7 did not make it past the quarterfinals. He scored six goals in the first season, and four in each of the last two seasons for the Italian team.
In the other game of the group, the current champion of the Europa League, Villarreal, faces Atalanta in Spain. The two teams must fight for the second place in the bracket. The Italians will not have striker Luis Muriel, injured.
- 13:45 Sevilla x RB Salzburg
- 4pm Lille x Wolfsburg
For Group G, Sevilla host RB Salzburg and seek to confirm their favoritism in the bracket. The Spanish team will return to the field 21 days after their last official game. After the stop for the FIFA date, the match of Julen Lopetegui’s team against Barcelona at Espanyol was postponed. The coach refused the label as the group’s top team.
– We are stuck in a very, very balanced group, in which any team can be first and any team can be fourth. And that also reflects the reality of this match – analyzed.
Fourth in the last Spanish, Sevilla fell in the last 16 of the Champions League last season. The Andalusian team does not have midfielder Óliver Torres and striker Ocampos, both injured.
O French champion Lille and the current leader of german championship Wolfsburg complete Group G and face off in France. Renato Sanches is missing in the home team, which has a bad start to the season in Ligue 1. The Germans will not have Brazilian full-backs William and Paulo Otávio.
- 4pm Chelsea x Zenit (real time in ge)
- 4 pm Malmo x Juventus
The defending champion hosts Zenit at Stamford Bridge. O Chelsea he kept the holders who lifted the cup at Estádio do Dragão and made one of the most praised signings from the last window: forward Lukaku. The London team is the team to beat, but coach Thomas Tuchel tried to relieve the pressure.
– There are so many teams that can win. You need luck, momentum and a good group. This competition is a very open competition. We have a strong bond. Maybe we were a surprise to win it last season, but it wasn’t for lack of merit. We start from scratch with zero points and zero goals: everyone has the same chances.
Zenit will feature the Brazilian quartet formed by left-back Douglas Santos, defensive midfielder Wendel and forwards Claudinho and Malcom. The Russian team does not pass the stage in Champions since 2015/16.
The other giant in Group H is the youth, who are going to Sweden to face Malmö. Now without Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals, the Old Lady is still looking for her first victory of the season. In three rounds in the Italian Championship, Juve lost two and tied another. Tournament runner-up twice in charge of the team, Massimiliano Allegri knows he needs to react.
– It is important to win to establish the right foundation. At the moment, we are all responsible, we need to improve in many things and be attentive to details – he evaluated.
Juve still doesn’t have Chiesa, one of its main players. Midfielder Arthur and attacking midfielder Bernardeschi are also absent, all injured.