Seven teams will set out hoping to make it three wins from three when the UEFA Champions League group stage resumes on Tuesday and Wednesday. Leading the charge will be former winners Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona, while ambitious outsiders Paris Saint-Germain, Schalke, Arsenal and Atletico Madrid will also be eager to take another big step towards the last 16.
Several of those sides face stern tests, however, with the third round of matches containing some mouth-watering fixtures. Madrid face Juventus and AC Milan host Barcelona in a pair of games steeped in history, while the meeting between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund promises to be just as special.
Match of the day
Real Madrid-Juventus, Group B, Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Few fixtures encapsulate the glamour and excitement of the Champions League more than Madrid against Juventus, two clubs who have crossed swords 13 times down the years – notably in the 1998 final, which Los Merengues won 1-0. Visitors Juve have a slight edge in their head-to-heads, winning seven and losing six, but the links between the sides go deeper than just past meetings. Most notably, Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti actually held the Juventus reins between 1999 and 2001, when his players included his assistant Zinedine Zidane and current Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte.
The hosts have made the more convincing start this season thanks to consecutive wins and ten goals scored, whereas their rivals have had to settle for two draws. That said, both teams boast a glittering pair of forwards, even if Madrid's Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo offer a different type of threat to Juve danger men Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez. Conte's charges will need to keep their focus at the back, though, having conceded four times in the space of 16 minutes against Fiorentina on Sunday.
The other matches
Tuesday 22 October
Schalke are full of belief after kicking off their campaign with two triumphs, but they go into their high-profile assignment against Chelsea without influential duo Jefferson Farfan and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who are both injured. For their part, Chelsea appear to be going from strength to strength following an uncertain start and will be keen to put distance between themselves and Basel, who will approach their successive encounters with Steaua hoping to climb into the top two.
Arsenal look a reinvigorated force since adding Mesut Ozil to their ranks and confidence is flowing through the north London outfit, who won their first two games in the section and sit atop the Premier League table. Dortmund seem to have lost the composure that served them so well last term, in contrast, but will be determined to spoil Arsene Wenger's 64th birthday celebrations. The two clubs are set for home-and-away meetings that could give Napoli a chance to further their claims, with the Italian club chasing maximum points in their Mediterranean derby against Marseille.
Porto-Zenit St Petersburg
Austria Vienna-Atletico Madrid
Atletico's perfect start to the Liga season came to a halt when they succumbed to Espanyol at the weekend, but the side from the Spanish capital have six points under their belts in Europe and can take a serious stride towards the next round if they get the better of their double-header with newcomers Austria Vienna. Either way, the game is likely to produce a winner, with Los Colchoneros having gone 24 outings in Europe without posting a draw. As for Porto, beaten at home on matchday two, they will be targeting victory against a Zenit side that has disappointed so far.
Acquaintances will be renewed at San Siro as two sides who knew each other extremely well meet again looking to rediscover form. Deprived of injured striker Mario Balotelli, Milan lie as low as eighth in the Serie A standings, while Barcelona could only draw 0-0 at Osasuna on Saturday – the first time they had failed to find the net in 64 games. Lionel Messi is not quite back to his best after returning from injury and Neymar, perhaps guilty of being too selfless, has yet to fully settle in. For all that, the visitors have won their two Group H contests thus far.
Wednesday 23 October
Bayer Leverkusen-Shakhtar Donetsk
Manchester United-Real Sociedad
Locking horns for the first time at this level, the match between Leverkusen and Shakhtar will potentially depend in large part on the contrast in styles between German midfielder Simon Rolfes and Shakhtar dynamo Alex Teixeira. Both players have plundered two goals apiece in this season's competition, but, at 1.91m, Rolfes stands 18cm taller than the Brazilian. At Old Trafford, meanwhile, Manchester United have not been firing on all cylinders in the Premier League and recorded an underwhelming 1-1 draw in Ukraine last time out. That said, their Spanish opponents will not need reminding that they have gone ten seasons without losing a home Champions League group-stage game.
Whoever comes out on top in the double-header between Galatasaray and their Danish opponents will be in solid shape to claim a place in the Europa League at the very least.
Ambitious PSG appear unstoppable at the moment, even if star forwards Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Edinson Cavani still need to work on their understanding. The Swedish international has been excellent of late, though, happily serving his team's cause in his role as captain since inheriting the armband from the injured Thiago Silva. Behind the French club, Benfica and Olympiacos continue to look the leading candidates to join Ibrahimovic and Co in the last 16, and they meet at the Estadio da Luz.
CSKA Moscow-Manchester City (18.00)
Bayern Munich-Viktoria Plzen
Everything looks to be going smoothly for the reigning European champions, who sit top of the Bundesliga and have won their first two Champions League encounters as new coach Josep Guardiola continues the process of communicating his philosophy. As for experienced tactician Manuel Pellegrini, he knows Manchester City could really use a win away against CSKA Moscow if they hope to seal a first ever qualification for the knockout phase.
Player to watch
Hulk: the return. It may sound like the title of a new cinematic blockbuster, but the return in question is that of Zenit forward Hulk to Porto, where the Brazilian international first made his name between 2008 and 2012. "I will never celebrate a goal against Porto out of respect to the supporters and the club," promised the striker, who joined Porto after a four-year stint in Japan at the start of his career.
8 – The number of times AC Milan and Barcelona have crossed paths since 2006, with two of those meetings coming in the group stage and three two-legged ties all finishing in the Spanish side's favour. Barça edged their semi-final tussle in 2005/06 (1-0, 0-0) and won at the last-eight stage in 2011/12 (0-0, 3-1) before prevailing in the round of 16 last term (0-2, 4-0).
What they said
"This season, we'd like to reach the quarter or semi-finals, or even make it to the final," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Have your say
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