Real Madrid aim for goal fest as Le­ices­ter look to stay per­fect

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

PARIS: AFP Sports looks ahead to to­day’s Cham­pi­ons League ac­tion as cham­pi­ons Real Madrid go on the goal trail against min­nows Le­gia War­saw. Group E At Lev­erkusen, Ger­many Bayer Lev­erkusen (GER) v Tot­ten­ham (ENG)

Tot­ten­ham’s sur­prise home de­feat to Monaco on the open­ing day has put a span­ner in the works in this group, putting both the English side and Lev­erkusen un­der pres­sure com­ing into their home-and-away series. Spurs bounced back with a win in Moscow over CSKA and are the only re­main­ing un­beaten side in the Premier League. Lev­erkusen, on the other hand, have had a dif­fi­cult start to the Bun­desliga sea­son and sit in the bot­tom half. They also drew their first two pool matches. Be­fore the sea­son be­gan, these two would have been con­sid­ered the group favourites but nei­ther can af­ford to fail to pick up at least a win in these back-to-back en­coun­ters or they risk leav­ing them­selves with too much to do in the fi­nal two fix­tures.

At Moscow CSKA (RUS) v Monaco (FRA)

Monaco will seek to build on their open­ing 21 vic­tory over Tot­ten­ham when they travel to Moscow to tackle CSKA, who sit third in the Rus­sian Premier League after a 1-0 win over Ufa at the week­end. Monaco dropped to third in Ligue 1, fall­ing four points be­hind Nice after los­ing 3-1 at Toulouse on Fri­day night, while the lead­ers beat Lyon 2-0. CSKA are bot­tom of the group and need a win, while one sus­pects pool lead­ers Monaco would be happy to go home with a point. Group F At Madrid Real Madrid (ESP) v Le­gia War­saw (POL)

Given Le­gia, the first Pol­ish qual­i­fiers to this stage in 20 years, have al­ready con­ceded eight goals in their first two group games, any­thing other than a Real avalanche would be a sur­prise. Madrid warmed up for this match with a 6-1 thump­ing of Real Betis, who are prob­a­bly a bet­ter side than War­saw. Real coach Zine­dine Zi­dane praised his side for play­ing with “in­ten­sity” on Satur­day and a sim­i­lar dis­play would likely blow away a Le­gia side that was thumped 6-0 at home to Dort­mund.

At Lis­bon Sport­ing (POR) v Borus­sia Dort­mund (GER)

In what could likely de­velop into a bat­tle for sec­ond place be­hind Real, this match takes on cru­cial im­por­tance. Sport­ing came close to a stun­ning up­set on the open­ing week­end, lead­ing 1-0 at Real un­til late. They lost but will have been buoyed by that per­for­mance and a win at home to Dort­mund would foster the be­lief that they have the abil­ity to get through this tough­est of groups. Borus­sia, though, have been reg­u­lar fix­tures in the knock-out stages in re­cent years. They’ve been bang­ing in the goals for fun this sea­son, too, be­hind only Bayern Munich in the Bun­desliga on that count. They were un­lucky to only draw at home to Hertha at the week­end, as Pierre-Em­er­ick Aubameyang missed a penalty and hit the bar be­fore notch­ing a late equaliser. If luck doesn’t desert the Gabon striker in Lis­bon, it could be a dif­fi­cult night for Sport­ing. Group G At Bruges, Bel­gium Club Brugge (BEL) v Porto (POR)

Point­less and goal­less Brugge host Porto with both sides tar­get­ing a first win to keep tabs on Group G’s pace­set­ters. The pair last met in the 1972/73 UEFA Cup, Porto pre­vail­ing 5-3 on ag­gre­gate. Bel­gian cham­pi­ons Brugge suf­fered heavy losses to Le­ices­ter and Copen­hagen, but have a good home record against Por­tuguese sides. Brugge coach Michel Preud’ homme has valu­able in­sight into the Por­tuguese foot­ball men­tal­ity as a for­mer Ben­fica player. Porto wel­come back Je­sus Corona, re­cov­ered from a thigh prob­lem and among the scor­ers in their Por­tuguese Cup win at the week­end. Brugge line up after a league loss to Charleroi last Fri­day.

At Le­ices­ter, Eng­land Le­ices­ter (ENG) v Copen­hagen (DEN)

Le­ices­ter’s sea­son is de­vel­op­ing a Jekyll and Hyde qual­ity to it-strug­gling to de­fend their shock Premier League crown but fly­ing high in Europe. Clau­dio Ranieri’s men host Copen­hagen top of the group with a per­fect six points, a far cry from their do­mes­tic form, their four de­feats al­ready one more than they suf­fered over the whole of last sea­son. Their Dan­ish guests are placed sec­ond, two points adrift, so a third straight win for the Foxes would bring a ticket to the knock­out stage in their first ever Cham­pi­ons League cam­paign sig­nif­i­cantly closer. Le­ices­ter will have to bounce back from a 3-0 loss to Chelsea at the week­end. Ranieri rested last sea­son’s player of the year Riyad Mahrez, one of three key play­ers, for to­day. Group H At Za­greb Di­namo Za­greb (CRO) v Sevilla (ESP)

Di­namo took de­ci­sive ac­tion after 3-0 and 4-0 losses to Lyon and Ju­ven­tus, with for­mer Bul­garia coach Ivaylo Petev re­plac­ing Zlatko Kran­j­car as man­ager. In three-time Europa Cup

win­ners Sevilla they face no easy task, the Spa­niards hav­ing drawn 0-0 with Ju­ven­tus and beaten Lyon 1-0 to sit level on points at the top of the ta­ble. Sevilla are also sit­ting pretty in La Liga, one point off the sum­mit after a win at Le­ganes on Satur­day, their first away league win since the fi­nal day of the 2014/15 cam­paign.

At Lyon, France Lyon (FRA) v Ju­ven­tus (ITA)

Ju­ven­tus are set­ting the pace in the Serie A ti­tle race, their 2-1 win-Paulo Dy­bala scor­ing both goals-over Udi­nese on Satur­day plac­ing them five points clear of Roma. Coach Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri, who guided Juve to the 2015 fi­nal, cut a frus­trated fig­ure the last time out after a goal­less draw with Sevilla as he tries to plot his team’s path to a first Cham­pi­ons League crown in 20 years. Juve fol­lowed that draw with an em­phatic 4-0 win at Di­namo to lead the ta­ble. The teams’ last en­counter came in the 2013/14 Euro­pea League quar­ter-fi­nal, the Ital­ians win­ning both legs.

— AFP

LIS­BON: Dort­mund’s head coach Thomas Tuchel at­tends a train­ing ses­sion at Al­valade sta­dium in Lis­bon yes­ter­day, on the eve of the UEFA Cham­pi­ons League group F foot­ball match Sport­ing CP vs Borus­sia Dort­mund.

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