The wait for Champions League football is over, as the elite teams of Europe take on each other during the week.
While there is no dearth of quality in any of the teams taking part in the competition, it is the Group involving Spanish Champions Real Madrid, English Champions Manchester City, German Champions Borussia Dortmund and Dutch Champions Ajax, that has the potential to grab the maximum eyeballs and some breath-taking football.
Real Madrid Are Looking To Add To Their Nine Champions League Titles...
History is on Real Madrid’s side as they have won the Champions League a record nine times, the last being in the 2001-02 season thanks to some magic from Zinedine Zidane.
Its déjà vu for Manchester City as they find themselves placed in a very tough group, just like last year. Only this time the going got has gotten tougher, with the champions of Spain, Germany and the Netherlands joining them.
Jose Mourinho, after winning the La Liga last year with Real Madrid, is hungry for Champions League success and wants to win it for a third time, having won it with Porto and Inter in the past.
Meanwhile his counterpart, Roberto Mancini, who helped orchestrate City’s Premier League victory over neighbours Manchester United in a tightly contested season last campaign , has always been found wanting in Europe. It was this inability to churn out results in the continent’s premier club competition that ultimately led to Inter supremo Massimo Moratti questioning his abilities, and replacing him with Mourinho.
HEAD TO HEAD
Real Madrid and Manchester City haven’t played competitive football against each other and thus their head to head history is still to be written.
Mourinho's Side Have Made A Poor Start To The Season...
Both of these clubs haven’t had a great start to their league campaigns. Real Madrid lie eight points behind their arch rivals Barcelona and come into this game after a 1-0 loss at the hands of Sevilla.
Although City are third in the English Premier League table after 4 match days, their football has looked labored compared to the swashbuckling style with which they decimated opponents last season. They have managed to register two scary wins over Southampton and QPR while managing a draw against Liverpool and a hostile Stoke City.
Both of these clubs will be desperate to get back to the form that made them champions in their respective nations.Goal.com profiles the key battles, that could decide the fate of the clash.
CRISTIANO RONALDO V MAICON
Can The Portuguese Lift The Spirits Of The Bernabeu Faithful?...
Cristiano Ronaldo has not exactly had the best of starts to the campaign, by his high standards. He has managed to score 2 goals in his first 4 games and speculation about his ‘sadness’ at the Bernabeu has irked the Madrid fans and hierarchy alike. But the Champions League is a special competition for any player, and Ronaldo is no different, having won it with Manchester United in the past. Real Madrid would need their talisman to make those mazy runs, score goals, deliver those key passes, and create goal-scoring opportunities.
Ronaldo might will be up against another Champions League winner, and Mourinho loyalist Maicon. One needs to only remember how Maicon was roasted by Gareth Bale’s pace at the San Siro a few seasons ago and Maicon’s task will not be made any easier when he will be up against one of the paciest players on the planet.
At 31, Maicon has become slower than he was during his days in Italy, and therefore will have to use all his reserves of strength and experience to keep Ronaldo at bay.
XABI ALONSO V YAYA TOURE
Can Alonso Curb Toure's Influence In Midfield?...
After his move from Barcelona, Yaya Toure has been nothing short of a phenomenon for City and has been, at times, single handedly carried the squad forward. He is a complete midfielder that City are fortunate to have. Be it defending or bombing forward Yaya Toure is adept at both.
Manchester City do not function normally when the lanky Ivorian is not in the lineup, as seen when they went through a ragged patch when Toure had been on international duty during the African cup of nations. The Ivorian will line up, in all probability, alongside another expensive summer signing in Javi Garcia, who has already opened his goal scoring account, thanks to his well taken equalizer against Stoke City. It is likely that Toure will be given a license to bomb forward allowing Garcia to guard the back four.
Xabi Alonso’s ability needs no introduction. He was the engine room during his time at Liverpool, and the current midfield enforcer for Real Madrid as well as the Spanish national side. He is a decorated player and is a proud owner of Champions League, European Championships and World Cup winners medals. Unlike Toure, he sits back and dictates play with his astounding array of passes. His role is vital to Real Madrid’s success in this game and tournament.
PEPE V CARLOS TEVEZ
Can Tevez Inspire Man City To Victory?...
Tevez seems like a new signing for the Mancunian side and comes into this game after a string of good performances this campaign. Tevez has scored three goals in his first four Premier League games. His wonderful understanding with countryman Kun Aguero is pivotal to City’s success, though the former Atletico Madrid player is still a doubt for the game.
He usually plays in the hole behind the striker and in front of the opposition defence where he will be up against a tough tackling, snarling Pepe. The Portuguese is a defender who has a healthy mixture of pace and power and Tevez will have to be at his very best when he will go toe to toe with one of the best center halves of the modern game.
Ultimately, the battle is not on paper but on the football pitch. Both teams have been expensively assembled and failure is not an option for either of them. It will be exciting to see who comes out on top in this high voltage Champions League clash.