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Champions League back with a bang

Published: Thursday 13 September 2012, 14.24CET
World football's most attractive club competition is back for another season and UEFA.com has all the key facts ahead of a matchday one featuring several eye-catching fixtures.
Champions League back with a bang
Zenit will look to go better again after making the last 16 for the first time last season ©Getty Images
Published: Thursday 13 September 2012, 14.24CET

Champions League back with a bang

World football's most attractive club competition is back for another season and UEFA.com has all the key facts ahead of a matchday one featuring several eye-catching fixtures.

The most compelling club competition in world football is back as 32 teams set out on their group stage campaigns all harbouring hopes of reaching the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley next May.

The summer has featured the usual array of player transfers and coaching changes, but now the on-field action gets under way for real as Europe's top clubs prepare to go head-to-head. The group stage draw last month produced some mouthwatering ties – not least on matchday one – and UEFA.com has picked out a few of the key match facts ahead of the first set of fixtures in this season's competition.

Tuesday's games
Group A (GNK Dinamo Zagreb v FC Porto; Paris Saint-Germain FC v FC Dynamo Kyiv)
• Dinamo and Porto have met four times – and on each occasion the home team claimed victory, their last contests coming in the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League.

• Dynamo accounted for PSG in the 2008/09 UEFA Cup quarter-finals. The sides first met in the 1994/95 UEFA Champions League with Dynamo goalkeeper Olexandr Shovkovskiy, then just 19 but now 37, appearing in both games.

Group B (Montpellier Hérault SC v Arsenal FC; Olympiacos FC v FC Schalke 04)
• Olivier Giroud makes an immediate return to Montpellier after leaving the French champions for Arsenal in the summer. Arsenal's UEFA Champions League squad contains seven other players with Ligue 1 experience.

• Schalke centre-half Kyriakos Papadopoulos represented Olympiacos from 2007 until 2010. Olympiacos have played six competitive home fixtures against Bundesliga opponents, in which 29 goals have been scored.

Group C (Málaga CF v FC Zenit St Petersburg; AC Milan v RSC Anderlecht)
• Competition debutants Málaga have conceded only three goals in nine European home matches, while Zenit have lost on all four previous visits to Spain.

• Anderlecht have played 14 times in Italy and never won. Milan have gone on to win the trophy on the two occasions they have encountered Anderlecht in this competition.

Group D (Borussia Dortmund v AFC Ajax; Real Madrid CF v Manchester City FC)
• Dortmund have failed to beat Dutch opposition at home in four attempts. Ajax coach Frank de Boer was in the Amsterdam club's lineup when they overcame Dortmund in the 1995/96 quarter-finals.

• As a Manchester United FC player, Cristiano Ronaldo appeared in 11 derbies against Manchester City, winning seven and losing three.

Wednesday's games
Group E (FC Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Nordsjælland; Chelsea FC v Juventus)
• Shakhtar and debutants Nordsjælland have not met competitively, but did play a winter friendly in Spain in February 2011. The Ukrainian champions came through 3-1.

• Juventus have won just two of 18 away games in England while Chelsea overhauled Italian opponents in the form of SSC Napoli en route to winning the competition last term.

Group F (LOSC Lille v FC BATE Borisov; FC Bayern München v Valencia CF)
• Both LOSC and BATE endured nervy moments in reaching the group stage. The French side required extra time to see off FC København in the play-offs; the Belarusian champions scored twice in added time against FK Vardar – goals which ultimately sent them into the third qualifying round.

• Bayern v Valencia is a repeat of the 2001 final when the German team prevailed in a penalty shoot-out.

Group G (FC Barcelona v FC Spartak Moskva; Celtic FC v SL Benfica)
• In what will be Tito Vilanova's first European match in charge of Barcelona, Spartak's Spanish coach Unai Emery is chasing a first victory against the Catalan club at the 13th time of asking.

• On the two previous occasions that Celtic tackled Benfica in the group stage the Scottish outfit progressed to the last 16.

Group H (Manchester United FC v Galatasaray AŞ; SC Braga v CFR 1907 Cluj)
• Galatasaray have never won in England yet their first visit to Old Trafford brought a 3-3 draw which helped them past United in the 1993/94 second round.

• Braga and CFR have never met a side from their rival's country, though with six Portuguese players (including three Braga old boys) in the CFR ranks there is plenty that ties the clubs.

Last updated: 17/09/12 0.51CET

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http://www.uefa.com/news/newsid=1858584.html#champions+league+back+with+bang

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