Holders Real Madrid will step back into the UEFA Champions League fray on Tuesday, with the record ten-time winners one of the many attractions as the group stage begins for another season.

The competition kicks off with an array of enticing fixtures, including Arsenal's trip to Borussia Dortmund – the first of three showdowns between England and Germany's finest ahead of Manchester City's visit to Bayern Munich and Chelsea's meeting with Schalke on Wednesday. This year's edition also marks the return of former finalists Monaco after an eight-year absence, and tournament debuts for Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets and Sweden's Malmo.

The fixtures
Group A
Olympiacos-Atletico Madrid

Group B
Real Madrid-Basel

Group C
Monaco-Bayer Leverkusen
Benfica- Zenit St Petersburg

Group D
Borussia Dortmund-Arsenal

Match of the day
Real Madrid-Basel, Group B, Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
Carlo Ancelotti faces a number of concerns as the new season unfolds, not least the disruption to his team's balance caused by the summer departures of Xabi Alonso and Angel Di Maria. The Real Madrid boss must likewise integrate the club's new arrivals, with Toni Kroos preferring to operate with a supporting player in behind and James Rodriguez favouring a central berth to his current role on the right. These issues help explain why Los Merengues have lost two of their opening three Liga fixtures, including Saturday's 2-1 home defeat by Atletico Madrid that allowed their city rivals to exact revenge for last season's Champions League final. Should the shaky start continue at the Santiago Bernabeu, Marco Streller and Co will need no invitation to take advantage for Basel.

Games between Arsenal and Dortmund are fast becoming a Champions League staple, with the ambitious outsiders set to meet for the seventh time overall after being drawn together for the third time in four seasons at this stage. The Gunners go into their latest meeting with a slight advantage in terms of past results, thanks to a record of three wins, one draw and two defeats.

In Piraeus, meanwhile, expect a generous serving of entertainment and physical intensity as Olympiacos begin their 16th Champions League bid against Atletico. Last season's runners-up bade farewell to a raft of key figures over the summer but have reassured their fans so far this term, proving they have lost none of their bite in their weekend derby win at Real Madrid.

Did you know?
50 per cent: Only seven of the 14 players used by Atletico in last season's showpiece will be representing the club in the competition this term. Despite the exodus, however, Los Colchoneros return to the continental stage with coach Diego Simeone still at the helm.

Ten: Benfica's last ten goals at this level have been scored by a record ten different players.

On this day
The Santiago Bernabeu provided a typically majestic backdrop as Didier Drogba made his Champions League debut 11 years ago, turning out for Marseille against hosts Real Madrid on 16 September 2003. Undaunted, the Ivorian striker broke the deadlock with 26 minutes gone, before the illustrious talents in the Merengues ranks roused to seal a 4-2 victory, Ronaldo (2), Roberto Carlos and Luis Figo doing the damage. Drogba had to wait another nine years, 75 matches and 39 goals before finally lifting the trophy in 2012, when his powerful late header and decisive penalty in the shoot-out with Bayern earned Chelsea their first European Cup, 107 years after being founded.

The stat
19 -
The number of times Real Madrid, Barcelona and Porto have reached the Champions League group stage, a record they share with Manchester United – absent from this competition for the first time since 1995/96.

Player to watch
Bulgarian forward Dimitar Berbatov faces the daunting mission of helping Monaco forget James Rodriguez and Falcao, the departed Colombian superstars having joined Madrid and Manchester United respectively over the summer. Berbatov thus finds himself as the man tasked with leading the club's European charge, but he can at least look forward to familiar opening opponents in Bayer Leverkusen, having scored seven goals in 26 Champions League games for the German side between 2001 and 2006.

Have your say
Can Real Madrid become the first club to successfully defend their Champions League title?