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Alberto Pinero reports: “Early on at the Bernabeu and we have our first whistles for Iker Casillas. Not as loud as at the derby, but the fans are making their frustration clear again.”
Tom Maston reports: “Arsenal have barely made it out of their own half in the opening minutes of this one, and most inside Westfalenstadion believe the home side should have a penalty. Henrikh Mkhitaryan breaks into the box before going down under a challenge from Mikel Arteta, but the referee instead books the Armenian for simulation. Replays suggest the official gets that big call spot on.”
Greg Stobart reports: “Good evening from Anfield where the Kop is bouncing as the Champions League returns here after five years. 'We've won it five times' roar all sides of the ground. This is a special competition on Merseyside and there's a real sense of occasion here tonight.”
By Borussia Dortmund, that is. Arsenal have the pacey Hector Bellerin at right-back, but Dortmund have a speed king of their own in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The forward is already causing the odd problem for the Gunners defence and the visitors are struggling to get out of their own half early on.
Danny Welbeck has the same number of Champions League goals as Mike Newell, Neymar, Emile Heskey and Falcao (4).— Duncan Alexander (@oilysailor) September 16, 2014
Peeeep! Peeeeeep! The Champions League is back! Away we go...
...is belted out at not just one stadium, but TWO stadiums. Oh yes. Liverpool, with a special mosaic proudly shown off at Anfield to mark their five Champions League victories, belt out their famous tune, and so do Borussia Dortmund over in Germany.
5 - English clubs have won five of their last seven Champions League away games in Germany (excl. neutral games). Brave.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 16, 2014
Alrighty then. Decision time. Stick around here for regular updates from around Europe, focusing on Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal, Liverpool v Ludogorets and Real Madrid v Basel, or click below for a dedicated play-by-play of whichever game you fancy...
Juventus v Malmo
Olympiakos v Atletico Madrid
Liverpool v Ludogorets
Real Madrid v Basel
Benfica v Zenit
Monaco v Bayer Leverkusen
Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal
Galatasaray v Anderlecht
Seventeen consecutive seasons in the Champions League? Sounds pretty darn healthy to me. Problem: They’ve never actually won the thing. Goal’s Liam Twomey has previewed another campaign in the big time for Arsenal, from their tournament expectations to their key player, and runs through the potential obstacles in the way of their progression of the last 16...
How Arsenal are shaping up
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers: "We are not tourists in this competition - we believe it is where we belong and where we should be playing. For the players and everyone involved it's something that brings the real excitement, but it isn't a 'giddy' excitement. We are Liverpool, we are five times winners of the European Cup and we are synonymous with its best traditions. Our players are excited, not daunted. We have earned the right to be there."
52 - Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 52 goals in 51 Champions League appearances for Real Madrid. Decent.— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) September 16, 2014
Ludogorets ain’t the only ones making their group-stage debut this evening. Nope, because a World Cup sensational going by the name of Mr V. Spray is also appearing in the Champions League proper for the first time. He’s proven himself over in sunny South America, but how will he fare on a wet and windy Tuesday night in Turkey?
Five years away but the five-time European Cup/Champions League winners are back. We reckon they’ve got the manager to succeed in the competition but, with no Luis Suarez, do they have the players? Goal’s Chris Davie was given the task of assessing their chances of making it through to the last 16...
How Liverpool are shaping up
Goal Spain’s Alberto Pinero: “It's surprising how Carlo Ancelotti has chosen Nacho Fernandez instead of Alvaro Arbeloa at right-back with Dani Carvajal still injured. Arbeloa has only played two games this season from the start and was substituted in both of them. I asked Ancelotti in his press conference after the derby against Atletico why he was taken off and he said he only substituted Arbeloa because he had been booked, but added that he had a ‘great game’.”
Benfica: Artur, Maxi Pereira, Luisao, Jardel, Eliseu, Samaris, Enzo Perez, Salvio, Gaitan, Talisca, Lima.
Zenit: Lodygin, Criscito, Lombaerts, Garay, Smolnikov, Garcia, Witsel, Danny, Shatov, Hulk, Rondon.