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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Champions League Group Stage Matchday 2: Who’s playing where and when?

There are some stand-out games in Week 2 of the Champions League, with Robert Lewandowski returning to Bayern and Erling Haaland reacquainted with Dortmund.

Update:
Friends reunited in the Champions League
PressinphotoGetty

The 2022-23 Champions League group stage is a case of thick and fast as UEFA has been obliged to squeeze in the entirety of the preliminary stage fixtures before the FIFA World Cup kicks off in Qatar in November. As such, the group stage will be played between September 7 and November 2, leaving little respite for participating teams. That may actually serve to level the playing field in comparison to recent seasons. Liverpool have already lost as many games as they did in the course of 2021-22 and 2020-21 and there were a few more surprises in the first round of fixtures as Bruges beat Leverkusen, Dinamo Zagreb saw off Chelsea – costing Thomas Tuchel his job – and Shakhtar thumped Leipzig away.

As Week 2 approaches, we take a look at some of the standout fixtures as the Champions League’s breakneck schedule rolls on.

Liverpool vs Ajax

It is far too early to say that Liverpool are in trouble, but Jürgen Klopp’s side have also been far from their usual selves this season. Allowing Sadio Mané to leave to smooth the ruffled feathers of Mo Salah has not really worked out and Darwin Núñez, after scoring on his debut, was banned for headbutting Crystal Palace defender Joachim Andersen. There is the feeling that Liverpool could have done more in the transfer window to touch up a squad that may just have one too many seasons on the clock. Klopp’s side host Ajax, who trounced Europa League runners-up Rangers 4-0 in their opener, in a game they have to win.

Porto vs Bruges

The same goes for 2003-04 champions Porto, who were beaten 2-1 by Atlético Madrid and can’t afford too many more slip-up in a tough group. Bruges are masters of the away draw and will settle for that after picking up three unexpected points at Leverkusen last time out.

Bayern Munich vs Barcelona

The Robert Lewandowski derby, after the Pole stuck three past Plzen on his European debut for Barcelona. Lewandowski’s tally is now nine goals in six games for Barça and he returns to his former home in excellent form to face a side who have drawn three of their six Bundesliga games so far this season. Barcelona still have a chip on their shoulders from the 8-2 drubbing dished out by an imperious Bayern in the 2020 quarterfinals and will fancy their chances of a spot of payback against Julian Nagelsmann’s far-from assured German champions.

AC Milan vs Dinamo Zagreb

Was the Chelsea win a one-off? Are Dinamo dark horses in Group E? We’ll find out at San Siro as Milan, who took a point from their opener against Salzburg, host the Croatian champions.

Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund

The Erling Haaland derby, the Norwegian having banged in two in the 4-0 defeat of Sevilla to take his tally for the season to 12 in eight appearances since his summer move from the Westfalenstadion. It could be a pretty unpleasant evening for Germany’s two biggest clubs. Bayern had plenty to say about Lewandowski when he was angling for a move and Dortmund sporting director Sebastian Kehl perhaps didn’t pick his moment to suggest Haaland was not entirely a team player at the club. Dortmund are also in a but if a rut, losing two of six in the Bundesliga and scoring two fewer goals than Haaland has managed on his own in the Premier League.

Shakhtar vs Celtic

Much like Bruges, this game will determine if Shakhtar are contenders for the knock-out stages or if the Leipzig game was an anomaly. Group F will look pretty much done and dusted if the Ukrainian side, who are playing for a little more than the sake of football, beat Celtic, who were brushed aside by Real Madrid last week. Carlo Ancelotti’s side host Leipzig in the other fixture. Shakhtar haven’t been beyond the group stage since 2017-18.

Champions League Week 2 fixtures

Tuesday 13 September

  • Liverpool vs Ajax
  • Bayer Leverkusen vs Atlético Madrid
  • Porto vs Bruges
  • Viktoria Plzen vs Inter Milan
  • Bayern Munich vs Barcelona
  • Sporting Lisbon vs Tottenham Hotspur
  • Marseille vs Eintracht Frankfurt

Wednesday 14 September

  • Rangers vs Napoli
  • AC Milan vs Dinamo Zagreb
  • Chelsea vs RB Salzburg
  • Shakhtar Donetsk vs Celtic
  • Real Madrid vs RB Leipzig
  • FC Copenhagen vs Sevilla
  • Manchester City vs Borussia Dortmund
  • Juventus vs Benfica
  • Maccabi Haifa vs Paris Saint Germain
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