UEFA Champions League Matchday 2: PREVIEW for Tuesday’s BIG Matches

By Marcus Louison

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There’s something truly magical about the UEFA Champions League. The notorious anthem is a fitting start to each European night, and the combination of full stadia, beaming lights and the World’s best players, is more than enough to ensure massive global audiences for each Matchday. Tuesday’s edition is  sheer box office, as the Parc Des Princes and Manchester’s Etihad are the venues for two of the first round’s most widely anticipated matches.. 

Group F – Paris Saint Germain vs Barcelona @2:45 ET

Verratti-Messi

PSG host Barcelona seeking revenge for their quarterfinal defeat in 2012. The ever ambitious Parisians have made an underwhelming start to the Le Championnat, but coach Laurent Blanc will be hoping for a positive performance that signals an upturn in fortunes. The visitors, by stark contrast, have sparkled so far this season, as the introduction of Luis Enrique has breathed new life into the Blaugrana. The Catalans may be slight favorites for tonight’s encounter, but the form book is usually tossed on such occasions, and the men from the French capital definitely possess the wherewithal to make this a fascinating contest.

Huge attacking responsibility falls on the shoulders of Edinson ‘El Matador’ Cavani, as the talismanic Zlatan Ibrahimovic misses out with a troublesome heel injury. Unfortunately for PSG, the energetic Ezequiel Lavezzi is also unfit, so his place in attack will likely be taken by one of the season’s bright spots so far, Javier Pastore. The French Champions also have problems at the back, as Captain Thiago Silva is struggling to shake off a thigh injury; Marquinhos stands by to deputize. Blanc’s men have no such problems in midfield, as hard man Thiago Motta, pass-master Marco Verratti and and the tireless Blaise Matuidi are all fit to start.

Luis Enrique has no fitness problems with any of his senior players, and will be excited by the prospect of this tricky away test. Ivan Rakitic has been a revelation in midfield, and his fantastic all-round game, allied with the majestic talents of Andres Iniesta, will be key in what promises to be an enthralling midfield battle. Lionel Messi and Neymar Jr have combined to wonderful effect so far this season, and will look to translate their impressive domestic form to Europe’s greatest stage.

Group E – Manchester City vs AS Roma @2:45 ET

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AS Roma, fresh off a 6-0 hammering of CSKA Moscow on Matchday one, travel to the Etihad stadium to face a Manchester City team in desperate need of all three points. A defeat for the English Champions will be nothing short of catastrophic, and that fact will add to the edge of an occasion that promises much.

Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping for a much improved performance from midfield star man Yaya Toure. The Ivorian was languid and lethargic in the defeat in Munich, and will need to up his game against a cohesive Roman midfield. Fernando is nearing full fitness, but Fernandinho will likely keep his place at the heart of the Citizens engine room. Stefan Jovetic is fit again, and adds to the complement of attacking options, with Eden Dzeko and Sergio Aguero also fit.

Rudi Garcia has a few selection headaches in attack, as all of his forward players have begun the season in top form. The ageless Francesco Totti, 38 on Saturday, has been at the heart of most of the Giallorossi’s best attacking moves, but his positon is under threat by the emerging Mattia Destro. Former Arsenal misfit, Gervinho, is a sure starter on the left flank, but a choice must be made between Juan Iturbe and Adam Llajic on the right. The Italians have problems in midfield, as Kevin Strootman continues his rehabilitation and Daniele De Rossi is struggling with a calf problem. Bosnian magician, Miralem Pjanic, is fit to start and will likely lineup alongside Radja Nainggolan and the ever-reliable Seydou Keita.

ML

 

 

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