A look at what’s happening in the Champions League on Wednesday:
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp takes his underperforming team to Napoli having failed to win in three visits to the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Klopp was sent off during a loss while coaching Borussia Dortmund in 2013, then was at the helm for Liverpool defeats in 2018 and 2019. Liverpool has started the Premier League season with just two wins from six games. Napoli is unbeaten in five Serie A matches and leads the league with 12 goals scored despite the offseason departures of captain Lorenzo Insigne, all-time leading scorer Dries Mertens and defensive leader Kalidou Koulibaly. However, the status of Napoli forward Victor Osimhen is in question due to a strained left thigh muscle. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, the 21-year-old Georgia winger who Napoli acquired from Dinamo Batumi for 10 million euros ($10 million), has scored four goals in five Serie A matches. In what could be a competitive group, Ajax opens against Rangers, the Scottish club back in the Champions League for the first time since 2010.
Atlético Madrid may be without goalkeeper Jan Oblak when it hosts Porto. He injured his leg in a Spanish league match last weekend and is doubtful to start at the Metropolitano. Coach Diego Simeone is expected to keep Álvaro Morata and João Félix in the attack, with Antoine Griezmann on the bench again. Porto has won four of its first five matches this season, outscoring opponents 15-4. In the group’s other match between Brugge and Leverkusen, watch out for Ferran Jutgla. The 23-year-old striker joined the Belgian league this season from Barcelona and has compiled five goals and three assists in seven matches so far. Under Jutgla’s influence, Brugge will be looking to carry its domestic form into the European stage after claiming four successive wins in the Belgian league. Following a third-place finish in the Bundesliga last season, Leverkusen’s fortunes have taken a turn for the worse with just three points out of 15.
It’s a rematch of the 2010 final when Inter Milan hosts Bayern Munich at the San Siro. Inter, which won its third and last European Cup under José Mourinho 12 years ago, is looking to bounce back from a discouraging derby loss to AC Milan. The Nerazzurri are still without injured Romelu Lukaku in attack, meaning that Edin Džeko should get the nod at center forward. Bayern has won all three of its previous matches against Inter at the San Siro, although Inter has never lost in Munich. Barcelona hosts Czech club Viktoria Plzen to kick off a Champions League campaign in which it will try to avoid a second straight group-stage elimination after the departure of Lionel Messi. The Catalan club comes revamped with the signings of Robert Lewandowski, Raphinha and Jules Koundé.
Unbeaten in the French league, Marseille should provide a stern test of Tottenham’s credentials in their opener in London in a group also containing Eintracht Frankfurt and Sporting Lisbon. Marseille will be without recent arrival Alexis Sanchez, though, because he is serving a suspension after his red card for Inter Milan in last season’s competition. Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has struggled to juggle domestic and European competitions in his managerial career and has a poor record in Europe. Conte has won just 12 of his 54 games in the Champions League and just one two-legged knockout matchup. Tottenham is looking strong this season, having won four and drawn two of its six Premier League games. Eintracht, which qualified by virtue of winning the Europa League, hosts Sporting in the first round of games.
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