Just 90 minutes into the UEFA Champions League group stage and already there is talk of "make-or-break games" as the second round of matches opens tonight.
Those words came from Mariano García Remón, the man charged with replacing José Antonio Camacho at Real Madrid CF, whose first Champions League tie comes against another team who have lost a coach in the last fortnight, AS Roma. While García Remón described the Group B meeting at the Santiago Bernabéu as "like a final for us", Ezio Sella, Roma's temporary replacement for the departed Rudi Völler, was more understated as he spoke of "a delicate moment".
Dynamo face Leverkusen
Defeat for either side would certainly leave them in a delicate position following 3-0 defeats in their opening games. And both prepared for tonight's match by losing too, Madrid against Athletic Club Bilbao, and Roma at Bologna FC. FC Dynamo Kyiv face Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the other fixture in the section.
Another team who have not made the start they would have liked to the new season are RC Deportivo La Coruña - winners just once in five league outings - and tonight they visit the scene of their heaviest European defeat, the Stade Louis II in Monaco.
Liverpool in Athens
It was there last November that AS Monaco FC beat Deportivo 8-3 but fortunately for the Galicians only one of the five Monaco scorers that night remains at the club, Jaroslav Plašil. Also in Group A tonight is the tie at the Georgios Karaiskakis in Athens where Olympiacos CFP look to become the first Greek side to overcome Liverpool FC.
In Group C, Juventus FC will hope to continue their impressive start to the campaign - one goal conceded in four Serie A games - at home against Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC. In Germany, meanwhile, FC Bayern München welcome AFC Ajax.
Rooney set for debut
The highlight of the evening at Old Trafford could be the first appearance in a Manchester United FC shirt of Wayne Rooney. The teenage England striker has not played since being injured in the UEFA EURO 2004™ quarter-final against Portugal. After leaving his boyhood club Everton FC, he is now fit to make his United debut against Fenerbahçe SK and manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "It is something we are all looking forward to." Also in Group D is the meeting of AC Sparta Praha and Olympique Lyonnais in Prague.
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