Champions and Europa League: 5 unmissable games during matchday 3
Following on from the return of domestic action after the international break, the UEFA Champions and Europa League both reconvene with Matchweek three. Typically, this is the time to separate Europe's contenders from pretenders. As usual, several star-studded teams will take to pitches across the continent. They include defending European champions Real Madrid, La Liga holders Barcelona, German giant Bayern Munich and Italian heavyweight Juventus. Six English sides are geared up for important games, too.
We highlight five must-watch matches scheduled for the coming days. Which is your favourite?
There's no other place to start. Cristiano Ronaldo will return to Old Trafford in a Juventus shirt. The Portuguese star is fully expected to receive a rapturous welcome from home fans. Will such feelings last should he put Manchester United to the sword?
Juve are in top form. They had a 100% record this season until drawing with Genoa on Saturday. The reigning scudetto winners sit atop Serie A once again, with a four-point cushion. United, meanwhile, are already nine points off the pace in the Premier League. They're also still recovering from a hard-fought 2-2 draw at Chelsea three days ago.
There is much more at stake than bragging rights. The Old Lady lead Champions League Group C on six points, closely followed by Jose Mourinho's men who have a win and draw to their name. Both sides are gunning for the top spot. Tonight's victors will take a gigantic step toward reaching the knockout stage.
Manchester City's immensely talented squad will hope to strengthen Champions League credentials when in Group F action tonight. Pep Guardiola's charges are set to endure a tough encounter, visiting Kharviv to take on Shakhtar Donetsk.
No one can deny the Citizens have the better, more experienced side. However, the Ukrainians always raise their level considerably on home soil. They've won 11 of 15 European games as hosts. With the two teams currently separated by just one point, both trailing leaders Lyon, winning this match is key to making the knockout stage.
Will City confirm their favourites tag, or can Shakhtar send ripples across the continent?
When looking at history and star quality, this is no doubt the biggest clash on Wednesday's slate. Even though Barcelona won't have Lionel Messi, Los Blaugranas still possess enough talent to go toe-to-toe with any side in the world. This is a perfect opportunity to prove it.
Inter Milan won't roll over, though. Having won their first two games against Tottenham Hotspur and PSV Eindhoven respectively, the Nerazzurri will now want to make a statement at Camp Nou.
Both Barca and Inter sit on six points in Group B. The winner here will take a huge stride in reaching the last 16.
If considering only each team's attacking line, then there's a compelling case to regard this as Matchweek three's top match. Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Edinson Cavani will all be in action for Paris Saint-Germain, while Napoli boast Dries Mertens, Jose Callejon and Lorenzo Insigne.
The strike power is impressive, yet there's much more on offer. PSG and the Partenopei both aim to top Group C, with the Serie A side currently edging the Ligue 1 champions four points to three. Therefore, this is a must-win game for the two contenders. Particularly so given Liverpool's presence in the group.
Both Lazio and Marseille were among the Europa League's top teams last season. The Italian side reached the quarter-finals; the French outfit made the showpiece, losing to Atletico Madrid. At least on paper, the two are once again bonafide challengers to win Europe's second-most important club trophy.
Through the first two matches, Lazio have three points while Marseille only have one. Considering Frankfurt currently top Group H with a 100% record, both teams must win at all costs to not complicate their chances of progressing. It could ensure a thrilling contest, between two sides which attack far better than they defend.
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