CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: CAN BIG SPENDERS JUVE SHINE?
After bringing in the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Miralem Pjanic, Dani Alves and Medhi Benatia, the top priority this season for Juventus is clearly the Champions League. But coach Massimiliano Allegri warned: “Everyone says Juve will win everything – but that hurts us, because we lose perspective. We’ve got to play the matches and win them on the pitch.” Juventus open their campaign in Group H tonight against Sevilla and will be relying heavily on Higuain (above left) after his $99 million move from Napoli. Here is a look at tonight’s other matches:
Tottenham are back in the Champions League and Monaco are returning after a one-year absence. Monaco travel to England as leaders of Ligue 1 and are boosted by the return of striker Radamel Falcao. The match will take place at Wembley Stadium because of construction work at White Hart Lane. Spurs will fancy victory now that Harry Kane has found his shooting boots. Also, Bayer Leverkusen warmed up for CSKA Moscow’s visit with a 3-1 win over Hamburg on Saturday. Mexico striker Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez will again lead the front line against Moscow.
Looking to become the first team to win back-toback Champions League titles, Real Madrid begin against Sporting Lisbon. Cristiano Ronaldo warned opposition that the La Liga leaders are “looking good and solid”. Midfielder Luka Modric added: “We’ve got an impressive squad.” Borussia Dortmund take on Legia Warsaw, Poland’s first Champions League representatives since Widzew Lodz in 1996-97. Legia have never beaten a German team, losing five of its eight matches.
With Leicester making their debut and Brugge a return after 10 years, Porto – two-time European champions – are favourites in this group. They play FC Copenhagen tonight, who had to win six matches to make it this far, while Porto overcame Italian side Roma in the play-off round with a 4-1 aggregate win. Leicester were the story of European football last season but the encore is proving tough.
Coming off a 3-1 loss in the French league that exposed their defensive frailties, Lyon will host Dinamo Zagreb. The seven-time French champions may have to play without striker Alexandre Lacazette because of a left leg injury. The France international’s absence is a problem for Lyon coach Bruno Genesio, who does not have proper cover on the bench. Dinamo has have their own worries heading into the crucial fixture. The Croatian club’s unbeaten run of 103 league matches at home, dating back to 2010, ended at the weekend against Osijek.