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2019-20 UEFA Champions League Preview – (Match Day 1)

The big-ear trophy competition is back; the 2019/20 group stage kicks off this week with several tasty fixtures. Liverpool begin this tournament as the reigning Champions League after Jurgen Klopp ended their 14-year wait for the ultimate glory. Before the start of last season, Lionel Messi’s Barcelona wanted the cup badly, like every other favorite in this tournament. The Catalans are back in the hunt once again, just like several other elite clubs in Europe. Real Madrid have Zinedine Zidane back in charge, Paris Saint-Germain have improved their squad, likewise Bayern Munich and Juventus. The journey to Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, Turkey begins.

Here is our preview of some matches across the eight groups.

Group E;

NAPOLI v LIVERPOOL – TUE. 17 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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Champions League holders, Liverpool begin the defense of their title against a rival that eliminated in the group phase last season. However, the Reds lost this particular fixture last time out 1-0 and the champions will aim to avoid similar run. Liverpool have started the new Premier League season in emphatic fashion winning their five league matches while their host have two victories in three Serie A league matches so far but have made their stadium – San Paolo a fortress for any visiting team.

VERDICT – This is the fifth meeting between these two sides in any European competition. Napoli have 1W, 1D, 2L in the previous four. Both Liverpool and Napoli are aware that their matches are the pivotal ones in the group which makes this opening game extremely difficult to call. On current form, Liverpool might believe they can secure a result but will have last season result in mind. Both teams will cancel each other out, we don’t expect a high scoring duel. Our prediction is under 3.5 goals.

Group F;

BORUSSIA DORTMUND v BARCELONA – TUE. 17 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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Despite being regular Champions League campaigners, this is the first meeting between these two former champions in the competition. Their only previous European clash was the 1997 UEFA Super Cup and Barcelona won on aggregate. Borussia Dortmund have made a good start to the new Bundesliga campaign; they are second on the log after four round of matches as they welcome the mighty Barcelona to Signal Iduna Park. Injuries to Barca’s attacking players has seen the Spanish League champions make a wobbly start to the new season. Ernesto Valverde has reshuffled his attack every game to accommodate absentees with the big one, talismanic skipper Leo Messi still on the treatment table.

VERDICT – Group F is the proverbial ‘group of death’ therefore every team would approach each game like a cup final. Without Messi, Barca are not as strong offensively but with Luis Suarez return should give more potency to the attack. BVB’s approach under Favre’s is to attack; Barca have a poor away form in the competition and we are inclined to lean towards Die Borussen. There should be goals; expect over 2.5 goals at Signal Iduna Park.     

Group H;

CHELSEA v VALENCIA – TUE. 17 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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Europa League champions, Chelsea start return to the Champions League under new coach Frank Lampard who won this competition as a player in 2012. The new Blues boss has been trying to implement his methods into his assembled squad with some fearless youngsters proving to be ready for the big step up. This competition is a different kettle of fish but there should be enthusiasm about their chances. Valencia is fast earning a reputation of being a club in a turmoil and the new campaign has seen a change in guard. Albert Celades is the new coach and his second game in charge is at Stamford Bridge in this Group H opener. It is early days for the new Los Che boss, he is probably still familiarizing himself with his new environment and players.

VERDICT – Chelsea are unbeaten in the last six meeting against Valencia; the Spanish club are yet to record a victory in London (2D, 1L). Celades team were ripped apart easily at the Camp Nou during a LaLiga game on Saturday while Lampard’s team scored five against Wolves on same day in the Premier League. The Blues have goals in them and will likely go into this game believing they can outscore their opponent. Over 2.5 goals is expected in this game.  

Group A;

PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN v REAL MADRID – WED. 18 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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French champions PSG welcome 13th champions Real Madrid in the opening game of the group. Both teams have their eyes on the prize and will be giving it their all in this group game. Injuries and suspension means both sides have players missing; Neymar, Mbappe, Cavani, Ramos, Modric are some of the stars who will miss this game. It has been a slow start to the new season for Real Madrid but this is a competition they love. PSG need a good start in this competition; there is no better way to test themselves except the might of Real Madrid.

VERDICT – Both clubs meet again in the group phase just like they did in 2015-16 season; Real Madrid avoided defeat in both matches and eventually won this competition. The Spanish giants have not lost any of their last four meetings against the French juggernaut. Keylor Navas was a part of the solid Real Madrid team but he has crossed over to the other side. Will he comeback to hunt his previous employers. This is one of the standout matches and we are certain it will live up to its billing. Both teams to score.

Group C;

SHAKHTAR DONETSK v MANCHESTER CITY – WED. 18 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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Manchester City begin the hunt of European glory in at OSK Metalist Stadion in Kharkiv. Still suffering from their agonizing quarter finals defeat to Tottenham Hotspur, Pep Guardiola’s team will be fired up at the start of this new campaign. Shakhtar are under new coach Luis Castro but their dominance remains in the Ukrainian Premier League. They will fancy themselves as the second best team in Group C, ahead of Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta.  

VERDICT – This is the third straight season these two sides are meeting in the group stage. In the last four, Shakhtar have 1W, 3L at home. They will need a better performance than last season, City mauled them 9-0 on aggregate in both matches. Pep Guardiola’s team are favorites; we can expect a reaction following the weekend defeat to Norwich.

Group D;

ATLETICO MADRID v JUVENTUS – WED. 18 SEPT 2019, 20.00HRS
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Atletico Madrid welcome an old enemy in Cristiano Ronaldo. The Juventus forward loves scoring against Los Colchoneros with his hat-trick in the return leg of last season Round of 16 tie dumping Diego Simeone team. The Spanish club have undergone a massive rebuilding this summer but have started the new campaign strongly. Juventus are slowly getting into Maurizio Sarri’s method; they have been involved in a high scoring game and one without goals. It would be interesting to see which approach the Italian coach adopts for this game.   

VERDICT – Atletico have won their previous two home matches against Juventus and can be seen as slight favorites for this game in Madrid. However, their nemesis – Ronaldo has seven goals in eight matches against them in UEFA matches. This is another top quality match of this round and we anticipate football at the highest level; Atletico will not lose at home.

This wraps us our Match day 1 Focus; predict and win big in this money spinning competition by visiting our Sports shop Babaijebu.ng for mouthwatering offers in all 16 matches for Match Day 1. The UEFA Champions League preview returns in a fortnight.

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