13 Sep Klopp looks to right the wrongdoings of Naples disaster, while Potter makes European debut at the Bridge
After a weekend when football in the UK was put on pause due to the sad passing of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, English clubs return to the pitch this week with the Champions League taking centre stage across Tuesday and Wednesday.
Liverpool were humiliated in their European curtain-raiser last week, thrashed 4-1 away at Napoli to kickstart their campaign in the worst possible way. The Reds’ poor start has been the topic of much discussion of late and another defeat this week when Dutch champions Ajax come to visit Anfield will only pile more pressure on manager Jurgen Klopp and his team.
Their opponents this evening kicked things off in Europe with a resounding 4-0 win over Rangers last week and as a result sit top of Group A on goal difference. This clash could not spell out banana skin more if it tried, although with a full six days worth of recovery in the tank, Liverpool should be refreshed and ready to regain some faith from their loyal supporters with a much-needed win on home turf – only time will tell if they can.
Elsewhere tonight, there’s a mouthwatering reunion for Robert Lewandowski, as Barcelona travel to the German capital to face the Poland international’s former club Bayern Munich. Both teams got off to winning starts last week, with Barca predictably decimating Czech outfit Viktoria Plzeň 5-1 at the Camp Nou (Lewandowski netted three of those goals) while Bayern came away from the San Siro with a 2-0 victory over Inter Milan. The game promises to be a thriller, with the winner putting themselves top of Group C and one step closer to qualifying for next year’s knockout phase. A draw would see Barca remain top of the pile.
Tottenham will be looking to build on the 2-0 win they recorded against Marseille last Wednesday with another victory away at Sporting Lisbon for this evening’s early kick-off in the Portuguese capital. Richarlison netted twice against the Frenchmen to put Spurs second in the group, behind their opponents for tonight’s clash on goal difference following Sporting’s comprehensive 3-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt.
Onto tomorrow night and Graham Potter takes charge of his first match as Chelsea manager against Red Bull Salzburg. The former Brighton boss was appointed as Thomas Tuchel’s successor following the German’s dismissal last week after the Blues fell to a surprise 1-0 defeat against Dinamo Zagreb.
Potter’s first job is a challenging one but with Sunday’s league game against Liverpool postponed due to policing issues a day before the Queen’s funeral, getting three points on the board here with a full week of uninterrupted training ahead of him will provide the ex-Swansea manager with a solid foundation to build upon at his new club.
Manchester City round off the quartet of English teams in Champions League action this week, where there is another reunion on the cards as Erling Haaland faces off against his former employers Borussia Dortmund at the Etihad. The Norwegian goalbot has taken to life on English shores like a duck to water, scoring his 11th and 12th goals of the campaign in the 4-0 rout over Sevilla last week.
While sentiment will be high for Haaland against the club which helped nurture the quite frankly absurd amount of talent he finds captivated in his possession, the 22-year-old target man will not go easy on his old side as he looks to build on his already-impressive goal-haul for the new campaign, whilst hoping to aid City in their bid for a second consecutive win in this season’s competition in the process.
Champions League fixtures in full – GW2:
Tuesday 13 September
Liverpool 20:00 Ajax
Bayer 04 Leverkusen 20:00 Atlético Madrid
FC Porto 20:00 Club Bruges
Viktoria Plzen 17:45 Inter Milan
Bayern Munich 20:00 Barcelona
Sporting Lisbon 17:45 Tottenham Hotspur
Marseille 20:00 Eintracht Frankfurt
Wednesday 14 September
Rangers 20:00 Napoli
AC Milan 17:45 Dinamo Zagreb
Chelsea 20:00 Red Bull Salzburg
Shakhtar Donetsk 17:45 Celtic
Real Madrid 20:00 RB Leipzig
FC Copenhagen 20:00 Sevilla
Manchester City 20:00 Borussia Dortmund
Juventus 20:00 Benfica
Maccabi Haifa 20:00 Paris Saint Germain