There are any number of mouth-watering ties on the second matchday in the group phase of the UEFA Champions League, a mere two weeks after the opening round which saw four coaches relieved of their functions: Jose Mourinho (Chelsea), Gheorghe Hagi (Steaua Bucharest), Albert Emon (Marseille) and Anatoliy Demyanenko (Dynamo Kiev).
Manchester United versus AS Roma is the only match between teams on three points after the opening round. Chelsea face a tough away tie in Valencia, as do AC Milan in Glasgow against Celtic, while Real Madrid travel to Rome to take on Lazio. Elsewhere, Inter Milan and Sevilla, who each lost their opening ties, will be looking for home comforts to get their first points on the board against PSV Eindhoven and Slavia Prague respectively.
Match of the day
Group F - Manchester United - AS Roma. Tuesday 2 October, 20h45
Last season, Serie A runners-up AS Roma took an absolute hiding at Old Trafford, going down 7-1 in the quarter-final return leg after they had won at home 2-1. Rarely has a club of Roma's standing suffered such a slap in the face at that stage of the competition. Captain Francesco Totti and his Giallorossi will no doubt be pulling out all the stops on Tuesday to gain their revenge, but a 4-1 home defeat to Inter Milan on Saturday was hardly ideal preparation.
In Group E, the two winners from Matchday One, Rangers and Barcelona, will be away on Tuesday to Lyon and Stuttgart respectively and looking to solidify their lead at the top of the table.
The same applies in Group G, where Fenerbahce and PSV Eindhoven will be away at CSKA Moscow and Inter Milan respectively. Inter are currently flying high in Serie A but will have to do without four players (Julio Cruz, Ivan Cordoba, Nicolas Burdisso and Maicon) who are suspended due to the incidents which took place last season against Valencia.
Sevilla had a great start to the season but have followed it up
with four consecutive defeats in September, three of them in
La Liga. The Andalusians definitely need to take three
points from the visit of Slavia Prague who themselves opened their
Group H campaign with a win. In the group's other match,
current Premier League leaders Arsenal will be looking to take
something from their trip to Bucharest where they face Steaua.
In Group A Olympique Marseille, currently in free-fall in Ligue 1 and who now have experienced coach Eric Gerets at the helm, have nothing to lose against last season's finalists Liverpool. Chelsea, meanwhile, may have to do without John Terry, who had an operation on Sunday on a fractured cheekbone, for their high-profile Group B clash with Valencia. Avram Grant, for his first European match in charge of the London outfit, will be hoping that his charges repeat their success of last season over the Spanish side when they ran out 2-1 winners in the away leg of their quarter-final.
Group C favourites Real Madrid came through their local derby against Getafe at the weekend unscathed and with a 1-0 win, and now travel to Rome as La Liga leaders to face a Lazio side making slow progress in Serie A. In Group D, current UEFA Champions League holders AC Milan, now five matches without a win in domestic league action, will be bracing themselves for a warm Glasgow reception against Celtic. Group rivals Benfica, held to a 0-0 draw by Sporting over the weekend, will have to be on their guard against ambitious Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk.
The one to watch
After three weeks on the sidelines due to a muscle strain, Brazilian star Ronaldinho is back in the Barca squad which travels to Stuttgart. On the back of Thierry Henry's hat trick in a 4-1 win over Levante on Saturday and with Lionel Messi leading the league scorer's charts with five goals in six matches, the Catalans have an embarrassment of riches up front, despite the continued absence of Samuel Eto'o.
"Bring back Mourinho" - featured on banners brandished by the Chelsea fans on Saturday during their 0-0 draw with Fulham. The Blues have not found the net in their last four league matches, two of them since the departure of Jose Mourinho, replaced by Israeli Avram Grant in mid-September. The Chelsea fans will be hoping that the Mestalla stadium proves a happier hunting ground for their strikers on Wednesday.
Tuesday 2 October 2007
Lyon - Rangers
VfB Stuttgart - FC Barcelona
Manchester United - AS Roma
Dynamo Kiev - Sporting
CSKA Moscow - Fenerbahce
Inter Milan - PSV Eindhoven
Steaua Bucharest - Arsenal
Sevilla - Slavia Prague
Wednesday 3 October 2007
Liverpool - Olympique Marseille
Besiktas - Porto
Valencia - Chelsea
Rosenborg - Schalke 04
Lazio - Real Madrid
Werder Bremen - Olympiakos
Glasgow Celtic - AC Milan
Benfica - Shakhtar Donetsk