A look at what’s happening around the Champions League this week:
ATLETICO’S HOME SUCCESS
Atletico Madrid will try to extend its successful home streak when it makes its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday against Chelsea.
It will be Atletico’s third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its last 11 games in the European competition.
Atletico has won both of its matches at the Wanda Metropolitano – 1-0 against Malaga and 2-0 against Sevilla, both in the Spanish league
“The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said.
Barcelona travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, riding a seven-game winning streak that includes the emphatic 3-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League opener.
Sporting, off to a great start in the Portuguese league, can make it two wins in a row to start its Group D campaign.
On Tuesday, Sevilla will host Maribor, which is coming off its first loss of the season against Atletico Madrid.
The Champions League provides Russian authorities with a key test of their World Cup readiness this week, and a glimpse at the welcome fans can expect next year. Two of England’s fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester United, play on consecutive nights in Moscow.
Liverpool is first up against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow plays United the following night. There isn’t typically disorder when the teams – separated by about 30 miles (48 kilometers) in northwest England – meet on home soil. But since England fans were attacked by Russians at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, concerns have heightened about hooliganism in the 2018 World Cup host nation. United and Liverpool fans have been advised by the British government not to wear club colors on the streets of Moscow and to avoid walking alone.
On the pitch, United and CSKA both won their opening games in Group A. Liverpool and Spartak are chasing their first wins after starting Group E with draws.
DORTMUND THRIVING BUT FLAWED
Real Madrid heads to Germany to face on Tuesday a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying its best start to the Bundesliga.
Dortmund hadn’t even conceded a goal in five domestic games until Lars Stindl netted Borussia Moenchengladbach’s consolation in a 6-1 rout on Saturday.
While Dortmund has scored 19 goals in six league games, there is no perfection in the high pressing game. The team remains prone to lapses at the back and opponents can suddenly find themselves with wide spaces to run into behind the Dortmund defense.
That happened three times alone in the first half against ‘Gladbach but it didn’t prove as costly as when Dortmund visited London earlier this month and lost its Group H opener against Tottenham 3-1.
A bust-up between Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined with a goalless draw at Montpellier have generated a sense of trouble at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Bayern Munich’s visit on Wednesday.
Cavani and Neymar have reportedly made peace after arguing on the pitch, but PSG dropped its first points this season following a dismal performance at Montpellier that raised concerns about the side’s dependence on its Brazilian star.
Neymar sat out Saturday’s game because of a toe injury and his absence was obvious. Facing a very defensive side which closed spaces efficiently, PSG did not find a way to break the deadlock in a 4-3-3 system that lacked rhythm and creativity.
“We need to push more in order to score goals,” PSG coach Unai Emery said. “This match leaves us with a lot of things to analyze in order to continue our progression.”
Neymar is expected to return for the Bayern game in Group B.
ROMA’S NEGATIVE STREAK
Roma will be hopeful of ending a woeful away record in the Champions League when it travels to Azerbaijan for the first time, to play Qarabag on Wednesday.
Including qualifying, Roma has won only one of its past 13 matches on its travels in Europe’s elite competition, with that sole victory coming against Basel in 2009.
But coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be hopeful of success against Qarabag, which lost 6-0 at Chelsea in the last round.
He will again look to an in-form Edin Dzeko, who netted his fifth goal in three matches in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Udinese.
Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in that match and Di Francesco has described him as “the ideal attacker” for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, which he hopes will boost Roma in Europe as well as domestically.
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