Manchester clubs face German tests, Cristiano Ronaldo targets record
The two Manchester clubs are in Champions League action against German opposition on Wednesday, while Cristiano Ronaldo again looks to break a goalscoring record as Real Madrid visit Malmo.
Paris: The two Manchester clubs are in Champions League action against German opposition on Wednesday, while Cristiano Ronaldo again looks to break a goalscoring record as Real Madrid visit Malmo.
AFP Sport runs the rule over the eight games being played in Groups A, B, C and D on Wednesday (kick-offs 1845GMT unless stated):
At Lviv, Ukraine
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR) v Paris Saint-Germain (FRA)
Paris Saint-Germain can take a big step towards qualification from Group A by beating Shakhtar in Ukraine. Laurent Blanc`s side are unbeaten this season, defeating Malmo 2-0 in their Group A opener and seeing off Nantes 4-1 at the weekend to open up a four-point gap at the top of Ligue 1. The French champions have a healthy squad at their disposal and Ivorian right-back Serge Aurier is available again in Europe after serving a suspension. Zlatan Ibrahimovic, meanwhile, is just two goals away from equalling Pauleta`s club-record tally of 109 goals. Shakhtar lost 4-0 in Madrid two weeks ago and Taras Stepanenko was sent off in that game so will be banned here. The Ukrainians beat Olimpik Donetsk 3-2 at the weekend thanks to a late Alex Teixeira goal and are three points behind leaders Dynamo Kiev in their domestic league. This match will be played in exiled Shakhtar`s base in Lviv, more than 1,000 kilometres away from Donetsk and the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
At Malmo, Sweden
Malmo (SWE) v Real Madrid (ESP)
Real Madrid will be widely expected to make it two wins out of two as they go to Sweden, and Cristiano Ronaldo will hope to break another, very significant, goal-scoring record at the Swedbank Stadion. Madrid were 4-0 winners at home to Shakhtar in their opening game, with Ronaldo scoring a hat-trick. The Portuguese superstar has, uncharacteristically, gone three games without a goal in La Liga but he will hope to get back on target with Raul`s club record tally of 323 goals in his sights. Ronaldo is currently just two shy of matching that tally. Meanwhile, James Rodriguez and Gareth Bale are unlikely to make their return from injury in Sweden with the Madrid derby against Atletico to come on Sunday. While Rafa Benitez`s team are unbeaten this season, Malmo lost at PSG in their opener and a 0-0 draw at Halmstad on Saturday left them fourth in the Swedish Allsvenskan, nine points behind leaders Norrkoping with four games left in the season. Malmo lost 2-0 at home to Real`s city rivals Atletico in last season`s group stage.
At Manchester, United Kingdom
Manchester United (ENG) v VfL Wolfsburg (GER)
After a disastrous night in the Netherlands in their Group B opener, when they lost 2-1 to PSV Eindhoven and lost Luke Shaw to a double leg fracture, Manchester United will hope things go better at home to Wolfsburg. United come into the match at Old Trafford a point clear at the top of the Premier League after sinking Sunderland 3-0 at the weekend. Last season`s Bundesliga runners-up Wolfsburg, meanwhile, head to England after a couple of disappointing domestic results, a 1-1 derby draw with Hannover 96 at the weekend following a 5-1 trouncing by Bayern Munich. The Wolves last visited Old Trafford on September 30, 2009, when Michael Carrick got the deciding goal in a 2-1 United win.
At Khimki, Russia
CSKA Moscow (RUS) v PSV Eindhoven (NED)
PSV Eindhoven can put themselves in a fantastic position to qualify from Group B with a win away to CSKA Moscow after the Dutch champions beat Manchester United 2-1 on matchday one. Philip Cocu`s side nevertheless go to Russia minus captain and leading scorer Luuk de Jong, who has an ankle injury. He came off after scoring in the 2-1 weekend win over NEC Nijmegen that left them fourth in the Dutch Eredivisie, five points behind leaders Ajax, who they meet next Sunday. CSKA lost 1-0 in Wolfsburg so need a positive result, otherwise they will struggle badly to advance from their group, something they have not achieved since 2011/12. Leonid Slutski`s CSKA drew 1-1 with city rivals Lokomotiv Moscow at the weekend but are five points clear at the top of the Russian Premier League after 10 games.
At Astana (1600GMT)
Astana (KAZ) v Galatasaray (TUR)
The Champions League group stage comes to Kazakhstan for the first time on Wednesday as Astana host Turkish giants Galatasaray. The game could be crucial to the chances of both sides after they lost their opening matches in Group C, Astana going down 2-0 at Benfica while Galatasaray succumbed by the same score at home to Atletico Madrid. Astana beat Maribor, HJK Helsinki and APOEL at home in the qualifying rounds and play-offs but Galatasaray`s Selcuk Inan says the match at the impressive 30,000-seat Astana Arena is not a step into the unknown for the Turks. "We are familiar with teams from Kazakhstan. In fact, we`ve played against their national team on a number of occasions. I also think that we have a better team than them, and if we stay focused I believe we will win," Inan told UEFA.com. Astana, who have lost their last two domestic games, will still be without Ghanaian forward Patrick Twumasi, who is serving a six-match ban after being sent off against HJK. The visitors are missing a forward of their own, with Burak Yilmaz injured.
Atletico Madrid (ESP) v Benfica (POR)
Supremacy in Group C is at stake as Atletico Madrid entertain Benfica at the Vicente Calderon after both sides won 2-0 on matchday one. Diego Simeone`s side, who lost the 2014 Champions League final to Real Madrid on Benfica`s home ground, lost 1-0 at Villarreal in La Liga on Saturday and are struggling for goals. It remains to be seen, then, if the misfiring Jackson Martinez will start in attack. Meanwhile, influential midfielder Koke may not return from injury as he targets the Madrid derby against Real at the weekend instead. Benfica`s man to watch is the Brazilian forward Jonas, scorer of seven goals in eight games this season. That tally includes two in a 3-0 weekend victory against Pacos de Ferreira in Lisbon, which left the Eagles third in the Portuguese league.
At Moenchengladbach, Germany
Borussia Moenchengladbach (GER) v Manchester City (ENG)
The pressure is on Manchester City as Manuel Pellegrini`s side go to Germany to face Borussia Moenchengladbach. Beaten at home by Juventus on matchday one, City have seen a perfect start to the Premier League season go up in smoke since then, losing to West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur. City have lost on six of eight past visits to face Bundesliga opposition and have had injury concerns surrounding Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany and David Silva. However, Kevin De Bruyne goes back to Germany, where he previously starred for Wolfsburg. Gladbach lost 3-0 at Sevilla in their opening game and their coach Lucien Favre resigned after overseeing five defeats in their first five Bundesliga games. But the 1977 European Cup finalists have won two in a row since then under interim coach Andre Schubert, against Augsburg and VfB Stuttgart.
At Turin, Italy
Juventus (ITA) v Sevilla (ESP)
Juventus and Sevilla are seeking solace from domestic woes as they meet in Turin. Last season`s Champions League runners-up Juve won 2-1 at Manchester City on matchday one but a 2-1 defeat at Napoli on Saturday left Massimiliano Allegri`s side 15th in Serie A, 10 points behind leaders Fiorentina after six games. Last season`s Europa League winners Sevilla, meanwhile, beat Gladbach 3-0 two weeks ago, while a 3-2 win against Rayo Vallecano on Saturday was their first victory in six outings in La Liga this season. The Spanish club won the Europa League final at the Juventus Stadium in 2014, beating Benfica on penalties.