The Wednesday fixtures of the UEFA Champions League 2017/18 season would witness the return of Cristiano Ronaldo who has not featured for the defending champions because of punishment for five matches.
The Madrid Impact
Real Madrid have won the last two editions of the UEFA Champions League and would be happy to start on a bright note as they host Apeol Nicosia from Cyprus.
Their talisman Cristiano Ronaldo has not tasted any active football for the past one month and so would be expected to deliver his normal performance of goal scoring in Europe’s elite competition because he has had enough rest and is refreshed for another milestone. Star striker Karim Benzema is likely to sit out because of the injury he suffered last Saturday in the La Liga game against Levante.
Madrid have accumulated only five points from a total of nine, they have not won any match in their last two games though they played all two at home, Santiago Bernabau.Therefore coach Zidane would have much pressure to deliver and has admitted in his pre-match press conference that Madrid would need another striker in the absence of Benzema and Morata who just left for Chelsea. But Nicosia is not so much a task for Madrid to tackle but must be weary of similar fate they suffered from Levante though Ronaldo would back to solve the goal scoring problems for them.
Their city rivals, Atletico Madrid travel to Italy to face AS Roma in a tricky encounter on Tuesday, Coach of the Madrid side, Diego Simeone (Cholo) has accepted the fact that his side has not done well to win the trophy after getting close for so long a time but would keep working harder till their sunshine for glory appears.
The Rojiblancos were not able to sign any new player because of the FIFA transfer ban and so have to resort to the same old guards to perform at least for the group stages. Cholo seem to have discovered a new signing in Ghana Thomas Teye Partey who has performed incredibly well in holding midfield since he was given the chance to play ahead of captain Gabi. Antoinne Griezmann, Fernando Torres and Carrasco have all the experiences to help scale through the group stages.
As Roma enters the post Totti era, new coach, Eusebio Di Francsico has a big task ahead of him because his side has not given good account of themselves for some time now in European Club competitions. But with Captain, Di Rossi and his second deputy Raija Nainggolan in midfield, there would be enough experience to count on. New signing Alexander Kolarov brings some good experience to the table as he has had stints in the competition with Manchester City. Roma must go beyond themselves to qualify from a group with Atletico and Chelsea.
German Machines to Operate
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund carry the flags of Germany aloft in the competition. Both sides have not enjoyed the glory of thsi comeptition for sometime now.
Carlo Ancelotti of the Bavarians is faced with some pressure to deliver after loosing to TSG Hoffenheim 2-0. With the squad not undergoing so much changes during the transfer window, they would fall on the same old faces and experience to deliver their results this season; Ajen Robben, Franck Ribery, Thomas Muller and Rober Lewandowski. They play Anderlecht of Belgium at the Alliance Arena tonight at 6:45 pm.
Meanwhile Dortmund has not had so much upset though they got their first drop of points in a goalless draw during their Bundesliga match on Saturday. New coach Peter Bosz who took Ajax to the Europa League finals last season has been able to work on their defensive set up which was their biggest weakness last season. They first play away to English side Tottenham Hotspurs who are not much fancied to give Dortmund problems when they meet on Wednesday.