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Bayern lead second 16

Published: Wednesday 17 September 2003, 14.00CET
The group stage begins for the remaining 16 teams on Wednesday, with FC Bayern München back in action.
Published: Wednesday 17 September 2003, 14.00CET

Bayern lead second 16

The group stage begins for the remaining 16 teams on Wednesday, with FC Bayern München back in action.

After sparkling starts from Real Madrid CF and Manchester United FC last night, the UEFA Champions League group stage begins for the 16 remaining teams tonight.

Opening night
It is the opening night in Groups A to D and, in the first of those sections, four-times winners FC Bayern München will be desperate to erase memories of their early exit from last season's competition - they finished bottom of their group - as they kick off with a visit from UEFA Cup runners-up Celtic FC.

'Wait is over'
"We have been waiting for this chance to play in the tournament again for a long time," said the German champions' coach, Ottmar Hitzfeld. "Now the wait is over."

Hiddink hopes
Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven suffered a similar fate last term and their coach Guus Hiddink is hoping for better things at home to AC Monaco FC in Group C. "We mustn't make the same mistakes we made last year," he said.

'La Real' return
Ten months may seem a long wait to Bayern and PSV, but for Real Sociedad de Fútbol it is 20 years since they last competed in Europe's premier club competition. The Basque side, runners-up in the Primera Division last season, make their return tonight against Olympiacos CFP in Group D.

'Something special'
"This match is something special, completely different from what we've known up to now and I'm excited and desperate to start well," said Real midfield player Xabi Alonso. In the same group, Italian champions Juventus FC - beaten finalists last time around - start with a home match against Galatasaray SK.

Old rivals meet
Another Italian side, Internazionale FC, visit Arsenal FC in what should be one of the games of the night. Also in Group B, FC Dynamo Kyiv will take on FC Lokomotiv Moskva in a meeting of two old Soviet-era rivals. Spartak coach Yuri Semin observed: "Matches involving Russian and Ukrainian clubs are always interesting. Our rivalry always seems to bring out the best in each team."

Extensive coverage
In the night's other ties, Olympique Lyonnais face RSC Anderlecht in Group A, while in Group C RC Deportivo La Coruña visit AEK Athens FC. uefa.com's extensive coverage of the action will include live text commentary of all eight matches in eight different languages.

Last updated: 17/09/03 21.38CET

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