UEFA Champions League updates: 15-21 September

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AS Monaco FC captain Jérémy Toulalan assured fans that his side would put their domestic woes behind them as he spoke ahead of their UEFA Champions League opener against Bayer 04 Leverkusen.

We know what it is like to play in the UEFA Champions League. It is something special. The young ones are ready. A lot has happened at the club recently but we are staying focused. This game could give us a bit of fresh air. We fight all year for those European places so we want to go as far as possible. Europe is a great experience for the young players. Against German teams it is always difficult. They are solid and fast up front. It will be difficult. The current situation reminds me of Málaga a couple of years ago when a great UEFA Champions League run helped our form in the league. We need to win to get our confidence back.

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James Rodríguez, Real Madrid CF midfielder:

We have to win and tomorrow we will have a good chance to get things right.

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Carlo Ancelotti, Real Madrid CF coach:

Our motivation is being competitive in the world's most important competition. I wouldn't change this squad for any other in Europe.

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FС Zenit left for Portugal with a full squad this morning. Among the 20 players coach André Villas-Boas has selected for the match against SL Benfica on Tuesday is Axel Witsel, whose availability remains in doubt because of a leg injury picked in Saturday's 3-2 league win against FC Dinamo Moskva.

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Before their first Group E game against Manchester City FC on Wednesday, FC Bayern München underwent Berliner Zeitung's 'Champions League Check'. "For Guardiola, only the title counts", is the daily's headline. "Contrary to last season it is unlikely the Munich outfit will start without a real striker from time to time. In [Robert Lewandowski], Bayern have acquired one of the world's finest strikers."

There are some worries concerning Mario Götze though, who just a few months ago made Germany FIFA World Cup winners for the fourth time. "During a more thorough analysis the question is being raised which role Götze should take over in system Guardiola. Once Thiago [Alcántara] is back, he will be a certain starter, as will be Arjen Robben, Franck Ribéry, Robert Lewandowski and most likely also Thomas Müller. Attacking places would be taken then."

Nevertheless, BZ is clear in its verdict: "FC Bayern München are– besides Real Madrid – the hottest candidates to win the title. A performance like the 4-0 home defeat against Real [Madrid] will not happen again. FC Bayern will reach the final this year. The title chance in Berlin is 50-50, no matter who the opposition are."

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Real Madrid midfielder James Rodríguez:

We have not begun this season well but we have the players to improve. It's just the start. We need to win and tomorrow we will have a good chance to do that. Things develop day by day and you can't look back. We have to win tomorrow.

I just want to train well and do my best when I have the chance to play. I'm happy because I'm going to play in the stadium where I always dreamed of playing. I have wanted to play for Real Madrid since I was a kid. I hope to do my best and play here for many years. I think Basel have good players and we must be alert. We are at home and must come out to win. We had no luck against Atlético de Madrid [on Saturday]. We had clear chances to score but we didn't do it. We must improve on that.

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Alessandro Massimo, Milan

Andreas Königl, MunichAndreas Königl, Munich

Andy James, Gelsenkirchen

Andy James, Leverkusen

Ben Gladwell, Rome

Carlos Jorge Santos, Basel

Christian Châtelet, Paris

Claire Gray, Liverpool

David Crossan, Porto

Denis Orlov, Minsk

Derek Brookman, Amsterdam

Dimitri Rogovitski, Moscow

Dmitri Rogovitski, Moscow

Fuad Krvavac, Sarajevo

Graham Hunter, Barcelona

Graham Wood

Ian Holyman, Basel

Igor Linnyk, Kyiv

Iñigo Marín, Bilbao

Jamie Reid, London

John Leonidou, Nicosia

Joseph Walker, Madrid

Klaus Klump

Lucy Turner, Barcelona

Marcos Prieto, Madrid

Mikhail Malkin, Tallinn

Nick Aitken, Bilbao

Paolo Menicucci, Turin

Rico Candido, Amsterdam

Rok Šinkovc, Ljubljana

Sébastien Blanchard

Simon Hart

Steffen Potter

Steffen Potter, Frankfurt

Stoyan Georgiev, Sofia

Sujay Dutt, Malmö

Tom Kell

Türker Tozar, Istanbul

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Last updated: 18/03/2015 21:26 CET
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