Our reporting team have the latest from matchday one
• Tuesday's team news: Who is in, who is out and who is a doubt?
• Group A previews: Paris v Malmö, Real Madrid v Shakhtar Donetsk
• Group B previews: Wolfsburg v CSKA Moskva, PSV v Man. United
• Group C previews: Galatasaray v Atlético, Benfica v Astana
• Group D previews: Man. City v Juventus, Sevilla v Mönchengladbach
• Watch the best matchday one encounters from the last 25 years
• View the squads of the 32 competing clubs and check the fixtures using the tabs above
• Brush up on your European Cup knowledge with our in-depth history section
• Learn more about this season's final venue, Milan
Welcome to matchweek one as we build up to Tuesday's opening games. We will be at every press conference today, so here are the times (all CET) ...
Paris (15.00) v Malmö (18.00), Real Madrid (13.00) v Shakhtar Donetsk (19.00), Wolfsburg (16.30) v CSKA Moskva (20.00), PSV (14.30) v Man Utd (19.15), Galatasaray (12.30) v Atlético Madrid (16.45), Benfica (13.30) v Astana (19.30), Manchester City (13.45) v Juventus (18.45), Sevilla (13.45) v Mönchengladbach (18.30)
Manchester City forward Sergio Agüero, who limped off after 25 minutes against Crystal Palace on Saturday, will find out later today if he can face Juventus on Tuesday following a fresh assessment on his knee injury.
Keeping you updated - I had studies done today, to be completed tomorrow. We'll have a clearer picture then. Thanks for the support!— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) September 13, 2015
Dinamo Zagreb marksman Ángelo Henríquez is looking forward to Wednesday's "special" Group F encounter against Arsenal at the Stadion Maksimir. The forward registered twice in Friday's 4-0 league success at Lokomotiva Zagreb, and the Chilean international is hopeful the Blues can be just as clinical in front of goal against the Premier League side.
"It is important to finish well - we scored almost all our chances against Lokomotiva," he said. "It would be great to repeat that display against Arsenal. This match will be special for me. We need to find a way through their powerful defence."
Mönchengladbach's poor start to the Bundesliga campaign continued on Friday as they suffered a 3-0 home defeat against Hamburg, leaving Lucien Favre's men without a point after four games and bottom of the table.
"I have always said that it will be a very, very difficult season", said Favre, speaking after the loss. "We are lacking movement - in attack and in defence."
With a tricky away game at Sevilla up next - the UEFA Europa League holders won all seven games at their Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán ground in 2014/15 - Gladbach's return to the UEFA Champions League could not have come at a worse time.
Paris failed to equal Bordeaux's French top-flight record of 14 consecutive Ligue 1 victories on Friday as Wahbi Khazri equalised just two minutes after goalscorer Henri Saivet had been sent off.
PSG goalkeeper Kevin Trapp, who misjudged a cross before Bordeaux's 79th-minute equaliser in the 2-2 draw, expressed his "will to bounce back on Tuesday night [at home to Malmö]" after apologising to fans in perfect French.
After the match, Laurent Blanc dismissed suggestions that back-up custodian Salvatore Sirigu would replace Trapp for the Group A tie at the Parc des Princes.
"We have to find solutions now. But it will be difficult. There will be no miracles this year", said Mönchengladbach skipper Martin Stranzl, speaking after Friday's 3-0 home defeat against Hamburg in the Bundesliga.
Stranzl, who suffered a fracture to the eye socket against HSV, will be out of action for six to eight weeks. Winless after four league outings, losing their defensive linchpin is the just latest blow for the Foals.
Cristiano Ronaldo struck five in a game for the second time in his career to surpass Raúl González as Real Madrid's all-time leading scorer in the Spanish Liga, while Chelsea slipped to their third defeat in five Premier League games . Find out how the group stage contenders fared at the weekend ...
Javier Mascherano says Barcelona are looking forward to their UEFA Champions League return as the holders prepare to start their title defence at Roma.
"We're really up for returning to the Champions League, a competition that's very special for us," said the Argentinian international. "Roma play football. This sometimes works well for us, but they're a quality side and we know they're going to play their game from the off and fight for every ball.
"They are a side with tradition and, above all, we know how hard it is to go to Italy and play. Tactically, they're teams that defend well and it's not easy to score against them. It will be a difficult game for us."
Under Diego Simeone, Atlético Madrid have never lost a home game in this competition. The Argentinian tactian cites the Vicente Calderón crowd as a key factor for their impressive form at the "special stadium".
"I can tell you what happened to me when I played here and when I came back as a coach – the Calderón is a special stadium," said Simeone. "The people don't need you to win, they need to see clear commitment and hard work. Once that happens, they give their full support to the team.
"That then transmits to the team's tempo and the fact the opposition can feel added pressure, even though you might be up against quality players who are at the top of their game."
Chelsea suffered their third defeat in five Premier League games at Everton on Saturday, however, Asmir Begović is confident the Blues can recover on Wednesday in their Group G opener against Maccabi Tel-Aviv.
"We have no time to feel sorry for ourselves," said Begović, in an interview with Chelsea's official site. "We have to pick ourselves up and look forward to our game on Wednesday. We have character and we have lots of different challenges.
"We know we still have quality as a team and we need to get a good performance and a good result against a tough Maccabi team – hopefully that can give us a boost to really kick on."
Former Bulgaria coach Stanimir Stoilov returns to the UEFA Champions league this week, the competition where he forged his reputation. In 2006, he made history in charge of Levski Sofia as the Blues became the first Bulgarian side to reach the tournament's group stage.
Nine years on, Stoilov has repeated the feat by guiding Astana – the first Kazakh side to win a UEFA play-off tie – to the competition proper. As the Blue-and-Yellows prepare to make their first foray into the group stage, their coach looks back at his most memorable nights in Europe ...
Manchester United captain Wayne Rooney will miss Tuesday's trip to PSV Eindhoven after the striker, who missed Saturday's 3-1 Premier League win against Liverpool, failed to recover from the injury he sustained in training last week. Youngsters James Wilson and Andreas Pereira, who was signed from PSV, have both been added to the 18-man squad from the weekend tie at Old Trafford.
It's the 18 from Saturday's squad v Liverpool, plus James Wilson and Andreas Pereira. #mufc— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 14, 2015
Forward Luuk de Jong helped himself to a hat-trick as Dutch champions PSV warmed up for their Group B clash against Manchester United by recording an emphatic 6-0 success at Cambuur in the Eredivisie.
The PSV skipper, who has netted five times in as many league outings, is confident his side can replicate their domestic form in Europe against the Premier League side in Eindhoven.
"I am full of confidence, and I'm really looking forward to it," said De Jong. "I think that we stand a chance against all three opponents [in the section]. United have not played well until now, so we have to take advantage - especially at home.
"With the fans behind us, and in the form we are currently in, we can show something on the pitch on Tuesday."
Maccabi Tel-Aviv coach Slaviša Jokanović shares his thoughts ahead of Wednesday's trip to Chelsea ...
Having missed Saturday's win at Crystal Palace through injury, Raheem Sterling (hamstring) and David Silva (ankle) returned to training today ahead of Manchester City's Group D clash against Juventus. However, Sergio Agüero (knee) was absent from this morning's session. Midfielders Fernandinho and Samir Nasri did not take part.
Ángel Di María believes Paris captain Zlatan Ibrahimović "is on the same level" as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. The playmaker also included former Manchester United team-mate Wayne Rooney on a list of the best players he has played with.
"I have been fortunate enough to play with Argentina's Leo Messi, with Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo and United's Wayne Rooney, and now Zlatan Ibrahimović.
"I'm really impressed by Zlatan's technical quality and his movement. He is on the same level as Leo and Cristiano."
Galatasaray playmaker Wesley Sneijder has also addressed the press before the Group C tie:
We have not made a good start in the league but the Champions League is a completely different. We always play well at home in this competition due to the backing we get from our fans. We're a big club and we'll show it, we also started badly in the league last year but we ended up by claiming the title in Turkey.
Atlético are strong side, it will be tough tomorrow. We will have to work hard and play as a team tomorrow - we can only win with this mentality. Atlético are the favourites because they have reached the semis and played in the final recently. They are capable of winning this competition.
Wesley Sneijder: I get angry because I want to succeed, I'm a winner!— Galatasaray EN (@Galatasaray) September 14, 2015
Former Juventus coach Fabio Capello says the Bianconeri will leave their domestic woes behind them when they face Manchester City. The Italian champions have earned one point from their opening three outings in Serie A.
"It's difficult to predict but I think Juve will do well in Europe - like Chelsea who have also had a bad start to their [domestic] campaign," said the Italian tactician, in an interview with Turin-based daily Tuttosport.
"Juve have a well-drilled defence and that's a good start, they just need a bit of time to develop a more fluid attack, but I think new signing Hernanes can help in this sense. "[Paulo] Dybala also needs some time to understand how to play for a top club. However he has all the qualities to do well: creativity, dribbling and a great left foot."
Capello also believes that Manuel Pellegrini's side will go far this term: “I think City could be considered among the favourites to win the trophy - alongside Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bayern. I think City could have made the needed step in terms of mentality this season."
As the 32 contenders prepare for their opening group stage fixtures, UEFA.com highlights some thrilling matchday one classics ...
Juventus stars - including Paul Pogba, Gianluigi Buffon, Mario Mandžukić and Paulo Dybala - taking part in training this morning ...
David Silva (ankle) and Raheem Sterling (hamstring) are in contention to face Juventus after returning to Manchester City training today. The duo after missing Saturday's Premier League victory at Crystal Palace. Sergio Agüero (knee), Fernandinho and Samir Nasri missed the session.
Download the UEFA Champions League podcast as UEFA.com's expert panel preview the 2015/16 season with some help from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo ...
Or on the new UEFA Champions League app...
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Sergio Agüero (knee) will miss Tuesday's tie against Juventus, Manchester City coach Manuel Pellegrini has confirmed. David Silva (ankle) and Raheem Sterling (hamstring) will return for their opening Group D tie ...
Manuel Pellegrini, Manchester City coach:
We are not thinking about where we can get to in the Champions League this year, we are just thinking about winning against Juventus tomorrow and trying to qualify. I'm sure that if we want to win tomorrow we need to play very well. It is very important for the team to be successful not only domestically but in Europe, but we need to go step by step.
We'll see tomorrow if Kevin De Bruyne will start. We need to make one change with Sergio Agüero [out injured, knee]. Kevin played very well the other day. Wilfried [Bony] and [Raheem] Sterling can also play up front so we have different options. I trust this squad 100%.
PSV coach Phillip Cocu oversees a training session in Eindhoven ahead of Manchester United's visit:
Nélson Semedo, Benfica defender:
I hope to make my [European] debut. It's a huge competition that all players dream about. If I start, I will give everything to ensure we pick up the three points. I started out as midfielder but I now as full-back - I will play wherever the coach decides. The first target is to win tomorrow, then we will take it one game at a time and try to progress to the last 16.
Juventus have confirmed that Claudio Marchisio will be out for at least a month with a thigh injury. The midfielder was forced off at half-time with the problem in Saturday's draw with 1-1 Chievo in Serie A.
Right-back Dani Carvajal has been speaking in Spain as Real Madrid prepare for their 20th group stage campaign at home against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday:
The team is on an upward curve and we're out to put in a good performance and pick up our first three points in the Champions League.
The Champions League is the most important club competition, Real Madrid are the best club in the world and, like every year, it's a must that we put on a good showing and challenge for the trophy. The whole team is really looking forward to it. We're all aware of what the Champions League means. We begin at home, in front of our own fans. We'll be up against excellent opposition and we'll look to put in a great performance.
Unfortunately I've come in [to the lineup] because of an injury to a team-mate [Danilo], and I wish him a speedy recovery. The coach knows that we're all in it together, I'm sure that those who aren't starters are going to keep on working hard and the coach can have confidence each and every one of us.
James Rodríguez (thigh) and Danilo (foot) will miss the matchday one tie against Shakhtar at the Santiago Bernabéu on Tuesday. Real Madrid coach Rafael Benítez has named young goalkeeper Rubén Yáñez and Russian international Denis Cheryshev in his 19-man squad for the Group A clash.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany has urged his side to reproduce their domestic form on the European stage:
It's about finding that confidence we have in the Premier League and bringing it into the Champions League. This season isn’t the same [as previous campaigns], if we’re not confident before tomorrow we never will be.
In the Premier League we're really determined and really hungry because we're frustrated from last season. In the Champions League we're frustrated from many seasons before. We just need to take that anger, that desire and energy into tomorrow’s game, it's so important.
Rafael Benítez, Real Madrid coach:
Shakhtar are a great team with an experienced coach who always gets good performances from his new players. It's going to be a difficult match if we are not focused and do not give due respect to Shakhtar. When I arrived here, I said we are going to play offensively while trying to improve our defending. The talent is there and these players need some freedom. Balance is not easy to achieve but when players understand what their position is, the team is unstoppable.
Sevilla coach Unai Emery shares his thought's ahead of their tie against Mönchengladbach at the Sánchez Pizjuán:
All the players are important, whether injured or available. Beto has a knee injury but his replacement Sergio Rico took a big step forward last season. We trust him, he is going to play tomorrow. We have needed a bedding-in period, as in previous seasons. For example, last year journalists asked me about Aleix Vidal's performances to start with, and he had a brilliant campaign in the end.
We always want to improve – when I came to Sevilla my goal was to be in the Champions League, and now I have got here I want to go as far as possible in this competition. Gladbach also have important players missing but they have good players to replace them.
Taison, Shakhtar midfielder:
It will be a good game [against Real Madrid]. I would say that today's football is different from it was before. No one can win the match in advance. Both teams have equal chances. We have played in the Champions League for a long time. Everyone knows Shakhtar. We can put on a fine performance in this competition. I'm doing the best thing in the world - I play football! I think anyone wants to face such teams as Real Madrid. The only thing we need is to achieve a positive result in Spain. We will fight for it.
Leonid Slutski's new assistant, former BATE coach Viktor Goncharenko, was introduced to the CSKA Moskva squad before the Russian league leaders departed for Germany ahead of their tie at Wolfsburg.
"We are not afraid of Manchester United," declared PSV coach Phillip Cocu in his pre-match press conference today:
I think we should respect each opponent, but we are not afraid of Manchester United. We have no intention of throwing in the towel before we even get started. On the contrary, we want to make the most of this opportunity.
These are the kinds of games everybody is really looking forward to. It was the same for me back in the days. We might have to slow down some of the players rather than motivate them. I think it is very important that everybody keeps a cool head. You have to remain focused. Details will be decisive.
We are not going into the game thinking that we are likely to lose. That’s a negative approach. Our goal is to bag the full three points here, but we cannot afford to be naïve.
Laurent Blanc, Paris coach:
The important thing will be to win. Paris want to win the Champions League, as every big club does.
Tomorrow we'll be facing Malmö, a quality team, and we need to prepare for every match the same way, no matter who our opponents are. I think we can expect a difficult game, judging by what I've seen of them. I've watched quite a lot of their matches, especially the ones against Celtic. They play with a lot of intensity and never surrender. I don't know yet if Zlatan Ibrahimović will play – we'll make a decision after training.
Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu has been sharing his thoughts at their pre-match press conference in Turkey today, ahead of their home tie against Atlético:
Our aim is to move the ball quickly in our opponents' half and to keep up the pressure. That's why we create a lot of chances and give a few chances away too. If keep playing like this, we are sure that we'll get good results, and I can guarantee we will continue to play this way.
Atlético Madrid are the favourites, but favourites don't always win. We have been watching them over the last few years; there has been extra focus on them in Turkey because our national-team captain Arda Turan played there. I respect Diego Simeone whose successes in recent years have been exceptional.
Hamza Hamzaoğlu: The Champions League is always the biggest goal for Galatasaray, hopefully in the coming seasons we will achieve it.— Galatasaray EN (@Galatasaray) September 14, 2015
"You never want injuries, but when they arise you have to deal with them," said Sevilla coach Unai Emery in today's official press conference, when asked about sidelined Portugal goalkeeper Beto, who is set to miss the next four to six weeks with a strained interior ligament in his right knee. "Last season this happened to us with Beto too but the other side of the coin is we’ve got Sergio Rico, who has the experience and performance levels to keep improving."
Without wishing ill on the man who proved crucial in Los Sevillistas' penalty shoot-out win over Benfica in the 2013/14 UEFA Europa League final, an article in Seville-based sports daily Estadio Deportivo – titled "La hora de Sergio Rico" (Sergio Rico's moment has arrived) – believes the return of 22-year-old youth-team product Rico will be welcomed by the fans. First handed an opportunity back in September 2014 by another Beto injury, the local boy subsequently remained first-choice for much of the remainder of the campaign, including in last term’s Europe League final victory over FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.
Rui Vitória, Benfica coach:
We want to start this group stage well, get three points and continue to perform the same way we did on Friday. First up are Astana, and we want to qualify from the group, which is something that has not happened too often in the past. We will treat Astana like any other opponent. They are a side that are performing very well in their league. They have a lot of match fitness as they are in the middle of their season. They are quick in attack, using both wings; they have two lines of four and two attackers. Astana have quality players who, given space, will cause us trouble and try to get behind our defence.
Thiago Motta, Paris midfielder:
The season starts tomorrow against a good Malmö team. We know it'll be a difficult match, because it’s a Champions League fixture, but also because it's the first one of the season. Malmö will probably defend deep and wait for us to make a mistake. So we need to be well organised, so we don't give away opportunities.
We need to be 100% focused, as it's a very important match: we hope to play well and most importantly win the three points. I don't think Zlatan [Ibrahimović] is particularly motivated by the prospect of facing his former club. Not more than against any other team.
Diego Benaglio, Wolfsburg goalkeeper:
Compared to our participation [in 2009/2010], we are more solid as a unit. I am convinced we can survive the group. With a similar result to [the 3-1 win against CSKA Moskva] in the opening game, we can do very well. We need two or three more points than last time.
Did you know?
PSV coach Phillip Cocu faced Manchester United only once as a player – for Barcelona at Old Trafford. Louis van Gaal was his coach at the time.
As 32 clubs prepare for the start of the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League group stage, UEFA.com looks back at ten great goals from last season's competition ...
Dieter Hecking, Wolfsburg coach:
We are really excited to start the Champions League now. We've earned this from last season, where we had an outstanding campaign. But from my point of view I'm not really excited, because I have to do my job as usual. I have to prepare the team for this match and many things are going through my head.
CSKA have a great attack with [Seydou] Doumbia, [Ahmed] Musa, [Alan] Dzagoev and [Zoran] Tošić. Nobody should think we will win this match easily. We have to put on a very good performance in order to start with a victory. Russian football has a lot of quality. But we've learned from our experiences last term in the Europe League.
"There is nothing better," said Zlatan Ibrahimović as he prepares to face Malmö, the side with whom he turned professional. "It means so much for me. I won no trophies there but have many memories. I was born there and I grew up there. To have the chance to meet them in UEFA Champions League ... there is nothing better," he said as the Swedish champions arrive at the Parc des Princes tomorrow night to kick-off Group A.
"I look forward to this game and I'm very happy for Malmö that they are in the Champions League. After that, I'll have the chance to play at home, in my city. It will be a fantastic moment. But tomorrow, it's in Paris."
Diego Simeone, Atlético Madrid coach:
A team's quality and momentum are the decisive factors in the UEFA Champions League. It is a very important and difficult competition. At this level it is hard to say that any team is favourite for a particular game, especially when it is thought that we will play against a 55,000 crowd tomorrow. We couldn't describe ourselves as favourites.
I have not decided tomorrow's starting XI. I will decide it after training tonight. We are working step-by-step to reach the ideal starting lineup. Galatasaray are very effective in attack. Therefore, in the first minutes, we will try to play much more aggressively. We will try to control the game with this tactic.
Koke, Atlético Madrid midfielder:
Our group is very finely balanced. Galatasaray have good players like Wesley Sneijder. Tomorrow, we will play in a different and difficult atmosphere therefore, we should be very careful. We are familiar with these these kind of atmospheres. We play in a similar environment at the Vicente Calderón as well. Each team starts the game 11 v 11.
Some important players left in the summer and we transferred in new ones. These changes will not effect our success. We have so many alternatives in our squad, especially in midfield and forward position.
Åge Hareide, Malmö coach:
We are not concerned or influenced at all by whether Zlatan [Ibrahimović] will play or not. In fact, we haven't discussed this at all. There are a lot of stars in this Paris team … the only place where you can find more is in the sky!
Our level of confidence has grown, and we are very focused on keeping the ball. We need to believe in ourselves, that's a key factor when you’re playing against the best teams in Europe. In these games we need to avoid allowing the opponent too much of the ball, that's what we will aim to do tomorrow.
We're happy to start our campaign here in Paris, it is a club which has grown a lot over the past few years. But we need to be realistic. Earning a point here would be a good result, although we'll obviously aim for the win.
Markus Rosenberg, Malmö captain:
The first match of the group stage is always special, and it's true you can grow more nervous when it's against a star-studded team like Paris. We'll have to work hard and play our game when we have the ball. Zlatan [Ibrahimović] is a top player, one of the best in the world… But we’ll definitively need to avoid focusing on only one player, because there are many dangerous ones in Paris.
Marlos, Shakthar Donetsk midfielder:
It's an important game. We have the chance to play a great game and we have been preparing for it for a long time. We want to show what Shakthar is. We have to be ready during the first 15 minutes. We already know [Real Madrid] are a strong team and we must be very focused during the first minutes.
Lucien Favre, Mönchengladbach coach
The Champions League demands a double effort from us; the speed of the game is faster which means a special effort from us. Maybe we lack a bit of confidence due to recent defeats but we are professionals and the players should go out on the pitch with confidence and personality.
We saw how good Sevilla were last season when we played them in the Europa League. We have a lot of respect to them. We need to be very concentrated and defend pretty well.
Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus goalkeeper:
There is a huge amount of enthusiasm ahead of the game tomorrow because Manchester City are one of the potential winners. It will be a really good thing for us to start with such a tough test and to gauge how we stand at the moment.
There is no doubt as far as I am concerned that City have seven or eight attacking players who could play in the top five teams in Europe. Our good fortune is that they probably won't play more than three at a time tomorrow.
Mircea Lucescu, Shakhtar Donetsk coach:
Real Madrid are a super club with top-level organisation. It's not ideal to begin against a team like them, and Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain have an advantage starting at home. Rafael Benítez is a great strategist and has a tactical system to build a good game.
We want to show a very high level and prove to people that we are the best team in eastern Europe. Our team is strong and I trust my players. We want to be respected.
Massimiliano Allegri, Juventus coach
City are one of the favourites to win the Champions League this year. It's a tough group and we want to qualify from it. We will have to play at a high intensity, be very brave and be very technical in our approach.
We got to the Champions League final last season and we deserved it. We deserved to be there. I think a team like Juventus has to have the ambition to be among the top eight teams in Europe.
Stanimir Stoilov, Astana coach:
It will be a very tough match. Benfica are a very strong, very well-organised and ambitious side, so our goal is to stop them getting into our box. Our team is a bit inexperienced in European terms, but if we stay organised and disciplined I believe we can score on the counterattack.
We know they are favourites but anything can happen. We'll try. To be here at this stage is, for us, enough motivation to put in a great performance.
Memphis Depay, Manchester United forward
I played here for ten years. It is a special feeling for me now to play against my old team-mates. I learned a lot here but now I am playing at a different level. The competition is different. If I walk out on the pitch it will give me a special feeling. If I score I will celebrate but I have respect for PSV.
Louis van Gaal, Manchester United manager:
It is always difficult to play here. When I was coach of Ajax and Barcelona, we did not win so many. A draw away is always a good result but we will go for the win. The first match is very important to win, but it is also important for PSV. I will play my best team. We will show on the pitch that we are able to win matches at the highest level – that is the challenge for us.
Leonid Slutski, CKSA Moskva coach:
It will be an important game but also a difficult match for us. I am responsible for the team and I can feel a lot of pressure but I can handle that. Wolfsburg are a very good side and we await a tough opponent.
Wolfsburg have lost Kevin De Bruyne but they were able to react with the transfers of Dante and Julian Draxler. Wolfsburg have a lot of quality in their squad and we will definitely have to play very seriously to get something out of this match.
Ángel Di María, Thiago Silva and Zlatan Ibrahimović are the front-page focus of L'Équipe this morning under the title 'star seekers' with the sports daily reminding readers that the UEFA Champions League "kicks off tonight" with Paris's "goal being to win the most prestigious [club] competition in Europe at last".
Following in footsteps of Ángel Di María? Benfica announce signing of Franco Cervi on six-year deal from Rosario Central ...
A slightly gloomy and overcast morning in Madrid, however the media are not letting that dampen their spirits and Real Madrid's tie with Shaktar dominates the agenda. Marca's front cover sports a photo of Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale with the headline 'La Reconquista' (The Reconquest) as Madrid look to wrest back the trophy they won for a tenth time in 2014 from eternal rivals Barcelona. The Madrid-based daily says that new coach Rafael Benítez will not hold back in his team selection, despite the side's busy schedule however intimates that Kiko Casilla may be handed a Merengues bow between the sticks.
Captain Luisão celebrated 12 years at Benfica on Monday. The Brazilian central defender made his debut for the club on 14 September 2003, in a 3-3 home draw against Os Belenenses. Luisão, 34, has now played 462 games for the Eagles, scoring 43 goals and winning four Portuguese Liga titles, two Portuguese Cups, two national Super Cups and six League Cups. "Today is a very special day! I completed 12 years at our glorious club," he wrote on his Instagram account. Luisão is one of the 20 players called up by Rui Vitória for tonight's match against Astana - exactly the same 20 the coach called up for Friday's 6-0 thrashing of Belenenses.
Maccabi coach Slaviša Jokanović prepares to lead the Yellows against one of his former clubs ...
There are always heroes unearthed on matchday one. UEFA.com looks at the players with extra reason to impress in the coming weeks and months ...
Young goalkeeper João Costa and midfielder Evandro made Porto coach Julen Lopetegui's 20-man squad for the matchday one Group G tie at Dynamo Kyiv. Bruno Martins Indi is set to replace suspended defender Iván Marcano, who begins a one-match ban. The Dragons arrived in Kiev on Monday after a four-hour flight.
The first team from Kazakhstan to appear in the UEFA Champions League were formed by the merger of two clubs 1,200km away and are coached by a former nemesis. Introducing Astana ...
Ukrainian Premier League runners-up Shakhtar, in their 11th group stage campaign, visit ten-time European champions Real Madrid on matchday one.
While the talk at Old Trafford may be of Anthony Martial's spectacular debut and Wayne Rooney's injury, here in Eindhoven it is all about reunions – with both Memphis Depay, who only departed a few months ago, and the UEFA Champions League itself. This will be PSV's first group stage match since 2008/2009, so expect a sell-out crowd and a boisterous atmosphere as Manchester United visit.
Gent will make their debut appearance in the UEFA Champions League when Group H rivals Lyon visit the Arteveldestadion. Gent's participation in the competition is their reward for winning the first Belgian title in their 115-year history in May.
BATE can take heart from Leverkusen’s 1-0 home defeat to newly-promoted Darmstadt in the Bundesliga at the weekend. The Belarussians, who host the Werkself on matchday one, boast an impressive record against German opposition in Europe with three wins from four matches. With games against Roma and Barcelona still to come in Group E, though, the hosts will see this one as a must-win encounter.
Louis van Gaal could have been sitting in the home dugout this evening according to Marcel Brands, PSV's technical director. In an interview with Voetbal International last week Brands revealed that the Red Devils' boss was in the frame to replace Fred Rutten as PSV coach in 2012, but because of Van Gaal's Ajax past the matter was 'very sensitive' and a different option - Phillip Cocu - was preferred.
The Frankfurter Rundschau trawled through the history books ahead of Wolfsburg's clash with CSKA Moskva, and discovered a number of interesting titbits – including the fact that "exactly six years ago, CSKA were Wolfsburg's first opponents in Group B, in what was the Wolves' first and only Champions League campaign to date.
The Bundesliga side won 3-1 in that game." The Russian side got their revenge, though: "CSKA's best Champions League campaign came in that 2009/10 season, when they reached the quarter-finals – after knocking out Wolfsburg in the group stage."
Lyon coach Hubert Fournier will be missing injured trio Clément Grenier, Gueïda Fofana and Bakary Koné when the French side face Gent on Wednesday. Meanhile, the Ligue 1 club also announced that Nabil Fekir's operation on his knee has been successful. The playmaker looks likely to miss six months after rupturing a cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Atlético come to Istanbul as favourites, but Diego Simeone feels his side can handle the pressure at the Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi. Galatasaray have had their problems domestically, winning only one of their four games, and coach Hamza Hamzaoğlu (pictured) will need to sort out his defensive unit. He may use a strengthened midfield trio to stop Atléti's classy front line.
"Juve, hold your head high!" urges Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport today. The Italian champions have only earned one point in three games in Serie A this season.
Juventus visit Manchester City in their Group D opener as they look to turn their fortunes around. "To overcome the crisis, Juve need a positive result against one of the favourites for the European crown," the daily notes.
Expectations in Germany aren’t necessarily high as Mönchengladbach prepare to end their 37-year exile from Europe's elite club competition with a Group D visit to Sevilla.
German newspaper Bild notes: "The Gladbach fans are really looking forward to being back in the world’s best club competition for the first time in 37 years. A banner bearing the phrase 'Time for new memories' has been put up above the departure gate at Düsseldorf airport."
The article continues: "In truth it will be an extremely difficult start to Champions League life. After four straight Bundesliga defeats, the threat of a loss in Sevilla is very real!"
Oscar Wendt, Mönchengladbach defender, on his side's upcoming UEFA Champions League debut:
It's the biggest club competition in the world. When we're sitting in the dressing room after the final whistle, we have to be able to look each other in the eye and say that we gave it our all.
Brazilian-born Croatian international Eduardo has shared his thoughts as two of his former clubs meet in Group F. Speaking to local newspaper Sportske Novost, the former Arsenal forward recalled his first goal in London - for Dinamo Zagreb against Arsène Wenger's men in 2006.
"The two ties will be a good spectacle, a nice reward for Dinamo's players," said the forward. "Back in 2006 [UEFA Champions League, third qualifying round, second leg at Arsenal], we led for over an hour against them, but Arsenal were finalists just a few months earlier and punished us.
"I will never forget that goal I scored [in London], the first European goal at the stadium. People now and then send me a video of that goal, since it has its place in Arsenal history. That goal influenced my career, changed a lot of things. It was the beginning of that crazy season - I scored all the time. And in the end I signed for Arsenal.
"Dinamo could not beat Arsenal back then. It's a shame that Dinamo didn't achieve more with that generation [Luka Modrić, Vedran Ćorluka]!"
Laurent Blanc was still being coy on the subject yesterday, but it would surely be a huge surprise not to see Zlatan Ibrahimović's name on the Paris team sheet against Malmö this evening. The talented forward went off at half-time with an abdominal problem in Sweden's recent loss to Russia, yet he played all 90 minutes against Austria three days later and even found the net, before being rested by Paris against Bordeaux to ensure his readiness to face his old side.
Ibrahimović has said it would be "more than a dream" to take on his hometown club in the UEFA Champions League, and given that this is likely to be his last season in Paris – and perhaps his last ever in Europe's elite club competition – he will not want to miss a single minute.
"I've always said that this is my dream, playing for Sevilla in the Champions League," said club captain José Antonio Reyes in Monday's official press conference.
"Being from Seville and a Sevilla fan makes this a very special game for me, it's not a competition you get to play in every day," added the former Arsenal, Real Madrid and Atlético winger, who Seville-based daily Estadio Deportivo expect to start on the right of an attacking midfield trio – with Spain international Vitolo on the left and Argentina schemer Éver Banega deployed centrally – in coach Unai Emery's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.
"Champions League or nothing" proclaims the headline in the sport section of the Munich Abendzeitung, looking ahead to Bayern's tie at Olympiacos on matchday one.
The newspaper notes that time is running out for FCB coach Josep Guardiola to win the competition - his three-year contract with the Bundesliga outfit is up at the end of this season. "Guardiola needs to win the Champions League to go down as one of the best head coaches in the club’s history – and he may only get one more chance to achieve that".
The daily adds: "Two titles won by a huge margin and one German Cup is definitely not a bad haul – but the Catalan, who is obsessed with improvement and success, will certainly not be completely satisfied."
Spanish daily Marca focus on Sevilla's return to the UEFA Champions League "by the front door, their qualification coming hand in hand with another Europa League title", the club back in European football's leading club competition for the first time since 2009/10. And despite Los Sevillistas' ever-growing injury list, particularly in defensive areas, the paper's Alberto Fernández warns that "Gladbach are having no better time of it, with injuries forcing them to call up a raft of youngsters".
The visitors will also be denied the influential promptings of Swiss international Granit Xhaka, serving a suspension after seeing red in the team's UEFA Europa League Round of 32 second-leg meeting last season, his absence further highlighting the sizeable gap in central midfield left by 2014 World Cup winner Christoph Kramer's summer return to parent club Leverkusen.
"Nervión fills up with stars" headline Spanish daily Marca in their preview of Sevilla's Group D clash with Mönchengladbach, a play on words on the competition’s celestial logo and an expected full house at Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. Predicting a "pressure-cooker atmosphere" at the home of the reigning UEFA Europa League champions, Sevilla are warned that the visitors are a "wolf in sheep’s clothing, and all the more dangerous for it".
The front page of local paper Estadio Deportivo focuses on the return of the iconic UEFA Champions League anthem, for the first time in Sánchez Pizjuán since 2009/10, with the publication’s backpage even going so far as to print the lyrics – in French, German and English, with Spanish translation – for the benefit of the Sevillista faithful.
Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Marko Rog, who joined the Modri from RNK Split for €5m - the biggest domestic transfer ever in Croatia, is looking forward to realising his dream of playing in the competition proper against Arsenal on Wednesday.
"As a kid, It was my dream to play in the Champions League. Now, I am living the dream - this is the reward," said the talented 20-year-old, in an interview with Večernji list.
"I won't have stage fright, we have prepared months in advance for this. So, now that we are here there is no fear."
Speaking to French newspaper L'Équipe, Lyon midfielder Maxime Gonalons - a former ballboy at the Stade de Gerland - recalls a favourite childhood from the 2000/01 campaign: "I was among those who waved the [UEFA Champions League round] flag [in the middle of the pitch before kick-off] when Sidney [Govou] scored a double against Bayern [in 3-0 second group stage home success]."
Despite that Govou-inspired victory against Ottmar Hitzfeld's FCB, Jacques Santini's charges missed out on a place in the knockout rounds after finishing third in Group C.
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany's words about his club's need to deliver on the UEFA Champions League stage dominate the English papers' previews of Juventus's visit to Manchester tonight. "It is the itch that the new Manchester City have been unable to scratch," writes the Daily Mail in response to Kompany's admission yesterday about their underachievement to date in Europe. The Times underlines this point by noting that "out of 14 home matches in Champions League campaigns, City have won five".
A winning start against Juventus tonight would offer hope of a better campaign given City have never won their first home game in a UEFA Champions League group stage. There could be no time like the present given they have already found their stride in the Premier League, with five straight wins. The Independent cites the "extra incision the signing of Raheem Sterling has brought" to their attack, along with the improved performances of Yaya Touré and Fernandindo in the centre of midfield, giving "new hope that City can strike the balance between attack and defence to prevent continental competition flooding them on the counterattack".
Manchester United will struggle to progress to the later rounds of this year’s competition, ex-England star Gary Lineker argues in the Daily Mirror, but he expects rivals Manchester City to improve on last season's showing.
"Manchester United are in a big transition period. I think their fans might have to be patient for a while. City have got to prove themselves in Europe because so far they have struggled. But they have started really well, and Manuel Pellegrini seems to have worked out the best way for them to play.
"Most of us have been screaming that you can't play with two wingers, and two up top, against the good teams. He seems to have worked that out and they look a much better team for it."
All eyes will be on Manchester United's Memphis Depay as he faces off against his old club PSV Eindhoven, writes Paul Hirst in The Independent.
"Depay is on far better terms with the PSV fans, having proved a pivotal role in their first title win in seven years last term. The forward was Eredivisie top scorer last season with 22 goals, but he is yet to set the Premier League alight."
Paris have the talent and experience to go about their task tonight with clear heads and calm nerves, but at least one of their players is likely to feel his pulse race against Malmö. Goalkeeper Kevn Trapp had a night to forget on Friday as he was robbed of the ball by Bordeaux's Wahbi Khazri in a 2-2 draw, and the 25-year-old German knows he will be under the spotlight at the Parc des Princes.
Signed from Eintracht Frankfurt this summer, Trapp came with a reputation for being comfortable with the ball at his feet – a quality cherished by Laurent Blanc and one that Salvatore Sirigu, his rival for the gloves, was seen to lack in recent seasons. Blanc has defended his new acquisition and urged him to continue "taking a lot of risks", but Trapp cannot afford to keep making mistakes with Sirigu calmly awaiting his chance to regain a starting place.
José Mourinho admitted that Chelsea need to improve their form ahead of their Group G opener. "The start really is so bad. So bad. I am not happy, I am not used to losing so many times," he said.
The Portuguese tactician also revealed that Oscar and Abdul Rahman Baba will be involved against Maccabi on Wednesday but Radamel Falcao misses out: "I am going to make a couple of changes to try a different dynamic and give a chance to players who aren't playing."
New Wolfsburg signing Julian Draxler looks forward to their home tie against CSKA Moskva ...
Domagoj Antolić, Dinamo Zagreb midfielder:
We are facing one of the top European teams and we are aware of their strengths. We will give our best and fight on the pitch. Arsenal have had the same style of play for many years, they are great at keeping possession. They also have great individual quality.
Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Domagoj Antolić: "Let's see if Arsenal will make us go deep in defence, but we'll try not to let them do that" #UCL— Elvir Islamovic (@UEFAcomElvirI) September 15, 2015
Olympiacos coach Marco Silva has been prepping his players for Wednesday’s match against Bayern. In recent days, the Portuguese coach has focused on midfielder Pajtim Kasami. The Swiss international has not played since the beginning of the season, but seems likely to feature in the starting line-up alongside Esteban Cambiasso, taking the place of the suspended Luka Milivojević.
With Andreas Bouchalakis highly doubtful, as he hasn’t fully recovered from his left quad injury, and Giannis Maniatis lacking match practice since his ligament injury in March, Marco Silva has a shortage of holding midfielders. Therefore, Kasami’s performance could prove decisive.
Zoran Mamić, Dinamo coach:
Arsenal are a top-quality team – better than us – but our aim is not to sit back and defend. We will try to pose them problems. I met Arsène Wenger when we were selling Eduardo to Arsenal; he is one of the best coaches in the world and is doing fantastic job at Arsenal. It's a privilege to have him here. I expect a full stadium and great atmosphere.
In the run-up to the match, I told the players we would have two video analysis sessions: one on Arsenal's strengths, which would be an hour long, and one on their weaknesses. I told them we probably wouldn't have anything to show in that meeting.
Rudi Garcia, Roma coach:
Barcelona are defending European champions. If they aren't the best in the world, they are certainly among the best. We'll play with humility and ambition; we want to qualify, and this is the first of six games, in which we will always do our best to get points. We will have to play as a team, in defence and attack.
We will give it everything and work for each other, and use the ball properly when we attack. Lionel Messi? He is one of the best players in the world – probably the best.
"Manchester City are potential winners of the Champions League this year" - Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon faces the media ...
How do you stop a team like Paris? For Malmö, the best attempt at an answer looks likely to be a five-man defence. Coach Åge Hareide tried the tactic away against Juventus and Atlético last year – with little success, admittedly – and he is expected to give it a first airing of the season at the Parc des Princes.
That will mean a starting berth for Felipe Carvalho alongside regular duo Rasmus Bengtsson and Kári Árnason, and Árnason believes it could be the key to stifling Zlatan Ibrahimović. "A five-man back line fits against Zlatan," said the Iceland defender. "Like that, one of the three centre-backs can follow Zlatan virtually all the time and we'll still have coverage behind."
Hareide looks set to find room for Carvalho by withdrawing one of his midfielders rather than weakening his forward line. The Norwegian tactician likes to field both Markus Rosenberg and Nikola Djurdjić to better hold onto the ball in the opposition half, and Vladimir Rodić is the wide player expected to make way, remaining an energetic option on the bench.
More from Chelsea coach José Mourinho:
We are not all smiles, laughing and joking. When people are not getting the success that they work for – and I promise we are working a lot for that – people get frustrated and unhappy. The only real problem we have is we don't have good results. At other clubs you have to go back two, three, five, six, ten years to remember good results. In our case you have to go back three months. Three months ago we were the best team in the country, the best manager, the best players.
I respect Maccabi and I have watched them play many matches. I did my study, I know the team. I also had information that, in the last week, they trained with a different tactical system and will probably come to play with five defenders. I am fine. I promise you, I'm fine. I'm not happy. I'm not used to losing so many times, but I'm adapting. I'm not adapting to losing, but to the situation, the challenge, to have to improve.
There is one point that is fundamental in football, and that is the confidence levels. Especially with people who are used to winning all the time. When you don't it's a strange feeling. Some people have more experience of that. Some deal with that negative moment better than others.
Gent coach Hein Vanhaezebrouck speaking in Belgium ...
Daniel Parejo, Valencia midfielder:
For any player it is incredible to play in this competition. I know what it is about and what it takes. It is always important to win the match before [the Group H tie against Zenit], and especially since it was our first win in the league. We come here with much more confidence and the team is more united. The team has shown that we are like a family.
It will not help Manchester City to be without their top scorer last season, Sergio Agüero, but they won at Crystal Palace on Saturday after his early departure and with Raheem Sterling and David Silva back, they will fancy their chances against a Juventus side who have made a slow start to the Serie A campaign. City look a much more focused team than last term and should be full of confidence given their club-record 11-game winning streak in the Premier League.
Real Madrid will be looking to continue their impressive group stage form, having taken maximum points last season. Rafael Benítez has already brought defensive solidity to the club, with the Merengues the only Liga side yet to concede this term. With Paris and Malmö also in the section, the 2014 winners will know a good start is imperative against Shakhtar.
Overcome by Barcelona in the UEFA Super Cup and unconvincing in Liga action, Unai Emery's much-changed Sevilla squad will look to kick-start their campaign with victory against Mönchengladbach. Yet the visitors, defeated home and away by Sevilla in last season's Europa League and beaten in all four Bundesliga matches this term, are equally in need of a fillip.
Asmir Begović, Chelsea goalkeeper:
This is the highest level in club football, testing yourself against the best, so I'm very excited. It's great being part of this group - It's been great from the first minute. You can see what makes [José] Mourinho the best manager in the world. We're behind him.The manager has led from the front from the first day. He's as motivated as ever. He's prepared well, but things have not gone our way. We're not going to feel sorry for ourselves.
Sven Kums, Gent captain:
I think that Champions League is the highest level that you can play - It is faster than our league. We are all motivated and we want to take as many points as we can. We have been waiting for this game for several weeks, we want to show our best.
Eindhoven city centre is beginning to fill up with Manchester United supporters. You can see them wandering through the weekly market, as well as eating and drinking at various cafes and bars throughout the town. But most of them seem to be congregating in the central square, where the singing has already started and various flags proclaim everlasting allegiance to their beloved the Red Devils.
With Serge Aurier suspended for Paris, Gregory van der Wiel has an opportunity to try to win back favour – assuming he gets the nod ahead of Marquinhos at right-back. The Netherlands defender has not appeared for the French champions yet this season, with Aurier displaying increased confidence after securing a permanent deal this summer, and the 27-year-old's two recent outings for the Oranje ended in disastrous losses to Iceland and Turkey. With his star on the wane at the Parc des Princes, Van der Wiel will have as much to prove as anyone tonight.
Chelsea stars John Terry, Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matić and Diego Costa taking part in today's training session ...
Arsenal have just announced that Jack Wilshere requires surgery on a hairline fracture of his left leg and is expected to be out for three months.
The England midfielder broke a fibula in August but was expected to return to training following September's international break. The 23-year-old underwent two operations last season after injuring his left ankle against Manchester United in November 2014.
Olympiacos goalkeeper Roberto - the star of several home wins in this competition - has started the season in fine form. On Saturday, against Platanias, the Spanish custodian saved Thanasis Dinas's second-minute spot kick and made several other key stops to inspire the Thrylos to a 3-1 league success.
After the final whistle, Roberto revealed: "For the sixth consecutive year, I managed to save the first penalty awarded against my team!"
Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Gent coach:
Lyon were the best team in France last season, apart from PSG, who are at a different level. They are a young team with a lot of quality. When you play at home you always have to try to get points whether playing Lyon, Zenit or Valencia. Don't underestimate the influence of the fans – the 12th man. We won't change our usual style too much; we will play our way. We hardly lost in 2015 and we haven't lost in the league this season, and that gives us strength and confidence.
During our pre-season, we played Bordeaux and won, but we want to avoid the slow start that we had in that game. In France, football is physical too, and they are well organised, and not just skilful. In seven games, we have conceded five goals and Lyon have only conceded two in five, which means that defensively they are very solid.
Find out who has made the squad list for the UEFA Champions League group stage ...
Bernd Leno, Leverkusen goalkeeper:
I am looking forward to this campaign. We have worked hard last season in order to qualify for this competition again. Now the group stage is starting and we want to take overcome first hurdle and win tomorrow's home tie.
[New signing] Javier Hernández is a very open guy. It took a couple of days for him to get used to our system of playing, but he has integrated nicely.
Former Soviet international and Sovetski Sport pundit Evgeni Lovchev is predicting a stalemate between Group B rivals CSKA Moskva and Wolfsburg in Germany.
"After the recent internationals and the fact that they had a difficult league game against Zenit last time out, I think CSKA may run out of steam in the closing stages," said Lovchev. "Meanwhile, the German side are a machine and will press for the entire game. So, I predict a draw."
Astana coach Stanimir Stoilov has decided to leave captain Tanat Nuserbayev out of the starting lineup when the Kazakh debutants begin their campaign at Benfica. "I know coaches do not change a winning lineup usually, but we will field another attacker," explained Stoilov.
Daniele De Rossi, Roma midfielder:
Barcelona are a special side in that, as well as being the best team, they also boast the best player around. It's difficult coming up against a team like the Blaugrana, as they have both a great playing style and exceptional individuals. Our aim is not simply to stop them but to work hard during the match and help one another out. [Lionel] Messi almost always beats a man [when he attempts a dribble], that's why we have to stay compact and organised.
Robert Lewandowski, Bayern forward:
I have one bad experience and one good one here [in Athens]. Bad because we lost [3-1 to Olympiacos in 2011 while at Dortmund], good because I scored. The fans are very passionate here. I can't wait for the match. The atmosphere is a factor, but we have to remain focused and get the result we want. It won't be easy but we always play to win, whoever we are up against. The main thing is for us to start with victory tomorrow and take it from there. We have a few injuries but we remain a formidable side nonetheless.
Philipp Lahm, Bayern captain:
I know Olympiacos are very strong at home, but it's important to start with a victory - we are 100% ready. Of course we want to win the trophy. However, we all know how difficult this is.
It's not always a given that we will top the group. We won't underestimate anyone.
The first Kazakh side in the group stage, Astana, on their tie at Benfica - the longest-ever trip in this competition ...
Olympiacos coach Marco Silva has named his 18-man squad for the home encounter against German champions Bayern. As predicted, Andreas Bouchalakis, who picked up a left quadriceps injury in training on 26 August, misses out. Dimitris Siovas, who celebrates his 27th birthday on Wednesday, is included in the squad along with five players who could make their debuts in this competition. In-form playmaker Kostas Fortounis is one of them, as are new signings Alfred Finnbogason, Felipe Pardo, Sebá and backup goalkeeper Stefanos Kapino.
Tal Ben Haim, Maccabi's defender on his short stint at Chelsea:
Chelsea is a wound that never healed for me. I see the players in their team, and I think I could have played six or seven years for that club. I worked hard from the age of six to join a big club [like Chelsea] and made many sacrifices, but after just one year it was over.
'The Buffalos' play with a Native American on their crest. Introducing group stage debutants Gent ...
Marco Silva, Olympiacos coach:
We're not thinking about advantages or disadvantages. We will start the game and do what we can to get the result we want. We know how to play against teams that keep possession and play with pace. We have to be ready to take our chances when they come.
We have done our analysis and studied them very well. We've seen many of their games. We know about their injuries but all big teams have alternatives. We have fantastic fans and we need their help. We will do our part.
Josep Guardiola, Bayern coach:
Our aim is to put in a good performance tomorrow and get off to a good start. All teams in the Champions League are strong. We know Olympiacos are a very decent side with a good record – this is the Champions League, after all. All teams, by default, are very strong. I have studied them well.
Olympiacos have some very good players like [Alejandro] Domínguez, [Esteban] Cambiasso. They also have a very strong defence. They have won their last six home games in the Champions League and that tells you a lot.
In my first year at Bayern we reached the semis and in the second we did the same and lost to Barça, even though I believe we played well. This is the third year – we will do our best.
Leverkusen in training ahead of their matchday one opener against BATE ...
Our MatchCentre is live! Enjoy the matches: all the reaction and build-up to Wednesday's games will be here later.
There will be misery in Manchester after Tuesday's fixtures. Both City and United were a goal ahead but fell to Juventus and PSV respectively.
Read the match reports here ...
Plenty of reaction on Twitter from Manchester United players to the defeat in Eindhoven, though Luke Shaw's double fracture has overshadowed the result ...
Sad about the defeat but much sadder about Luke's injury. Come back soon my friend pic.twitter.com/VHO6gusvF2— Ander Herrera (@AnderHerrera) September 15, 2015
Very disappointing night for us. Wish @LukeShaw23 a speedy recovery, gutted for you, stay strong mate— Ashley Young (@youngy18) September 15, 2015
"We started well, we got the three points, we are happy with our game." See what David Luiz had to say after Paris saw off Malmö.
It was an ideal start to the group stage for the competition's Liga contingent. Tuesday's three Spanish contenders scored a combined total of nine goals and did not concede a single effort between them. Catch up on their exploits with our match reports ...
• Madrid duo celebrate as Manchester pair slip: Recap Tuesday's group action
• Wednesday's team news: Who is in, who is out and who is a doubt?
• Watch the best matchday one encounters from the last 25 years
• Brush up on your European Cup knowledge with our in-depth history section
• Learn more about this season's final venue, Milan
De Telegraaf is taking delight in PSV's 2-1 success against Manchester United. "Champions League dream return for Eindhoven side," it writes, adding: "PSV surprise Van Gaal."
"PSV made a dream return at the highest stage," adds the national paper. "Although the Mancunians had the upper hand in the match, contagious fighting spirit and dangerous counterattacks enabled PSV to hit the English powerhouse's Achilles heel. PSV has put a little colour back into the cheeks of a nation in the footballing doldrums."
'Paris rock-solid' is the lead in L'Équipe after Laurent Blanc's side's 2-0 home win against Group A outsiders Malmö. "Gently, Paris managed a successful start in the Champions League group stage thanks goals from [Ángel] Di María and [Edinson] Cavani," it writes. "Let's hope Lyon play as well tonight at Gent."
"Magic Juve!" says the headline in Turin-based sports newspaper Tuttosport this morning after the Italian champions recorded a 2-1 success at Premier League leaders Manchester City. The big 'M' on the front also salutes Juventus goalscorers Mario Mandžukić and Álvaro Morata. "In one fell swoop the Bianconeri overcame Manchester City and their difficult start to the season," says the daily. The paper also praises Juve captain Gianluigi Buffon: "He is the real leader of Juventus, a legend."
Meanwhile, La Gazzetta dello Sport leads with "Welcome back Super Juve!". The pink daily also lauds "inspired" coach Massimiliano Allegri and the "sensational" Buffon.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv midfielder Nosa Igiebor (hamstring) is a doubt for the Group G tie at Chelsea. Coach Slaviša Jokanović will decide later today whether to include the Nigerian in his lineup for the opener at Stamford Bridge. Meanwhile, over 3,000 Maccabi fans have made the trip to see their side compete in the group stage for the first time since 2004/05.
Valencia have realised owner Peter Lim's dream in reaching the group stage, but the reconstruction of the team means they have several competition debutants tonight against Zenit. One will be 24-year-old reserve keeper Jaume Doménech, who pips Yoel to the spot left vacant by injuries to Diego Alves and Matty Ryan. The young Valencian seems to have been prepared, mentally, for quite some time given that on his right arm he bears the large tattoo of a UEFA Champions League football. Sometimes dreams do come true.
Kaspars Dubra, BATE defender:
It would be a big mistake to enter the field with the fear that you will lose. I am absolutely sure BATE will be competitive [at Leverkusen]. As for me, I need to consolidate my place in the team and play on regular basis - that is the first step. The second one is to progress both as a player and as a person. I hope to improve in Borisov and continue my development.
Wolfsburg's 1-0 victory against CSKA Moskva in Germany was a fair result, according to Russian newspaper Sport-Express. "CSKA were not able to get the draw, but to be honest they hardly deserved that," the daily claims.
However, all is not lost for the Army Men. Six years ago, Juande Ramos's side also lost at Wolfsburg on matchday one before embarking on a memorable run to the quarter-finals.
"We saw the European version of CSKA who pay too much respect to opponents when they go abroad," is how Sovetski Sport pundit and former Soviet international Evgeni Lovchev summed up the defeat.
Today's Diario AS reserves special praise for Atlético's Antoine Griezmann, declaring he is "the kind of player who is worth the entry fee alone" following his double as the 2014 runners-up downed Galatasaray 2-0 in Turkey last night. Coach Diego Simeone also earns kudos for switching to a 4-3-3 formation and taking the hosts by surprise, given that in all previous games this season he had lined up with a 4-4-2. This allowed the Frenchman more space and freedom to express himself and the Rojiblancos reaped the benefits.
The Portuguese sports press all hail Benfica's Nicolás Gaitán this morning following his performance in the 2-0 win over debutants Astana. Record writes "Gaitán shows how it's done", before quoting the midfielder saying: "I feel good here and I show that on the field." The paper adds that it was Benfica's 100 win on the competition and notes that Greek forward Kostas Mitroglou also scored again.
"OL: The return" says the headline in local newspaper Le Progrès as Lyon prepare for their first group stage fixture in three years, against debutants Gent in Belgium. The paper leads with a large image of Lyon stars Alexandre Lacazette, Mathieu Valbuena and Maxime Gonalons.
The 2010 semi-finalists return to the competition with a host of talented French youngsters who will experience the UEFA Champions League for the first time.
"I can't wait to see what the Champions League is like to play in," says 23-year-old midfielder Jordan Ferri. "To play for the club you grew up at is great. I'm not afraid to play a game every three days - as a player, you are always hungry to compete."
Regional newspaper Wolfsburger Allgemeine praise Wolfsburg this morning for their opening win against CSKA Moskva, but also note that Dieter Hecking's charges squandered a number of chances on matchday one: "There is plenty of room for improvement, especially when taking a closer look at the conversion rate." Kicker Online agreed: "CSKA improved in second half, but rarely found an opening. Hecking's team failed to take advantage of a few chances to clinch the victory on the break."
Two boxing gloves, with one considerably bigger than the other, is how Greek newspaper LiveSport illustrate the task facing Olympiacos as Bayern visit tonight. "Challenge" says the headline that accompanies that unique image. Finally, the sports paper also uses a line from goalkeeper Roberto: "Here in Piraeus we set the boundaries."
"Great expectations" is the Charles Dickens-inspired headline GoalNews lead with, before claiming that "the Red and Whites are determined to go as far as possible against powerhouse Bayern."
Fos Ton Spor adds: "Olympiacos will need to show passion and give it their all in order to produce a miracle tonight."
Hubert Fournier, Lyon coach:
We have been talking about the Champions League for a long time – now it finally starts. Our goal is to be ambitious and to put in a good performance. And we can. In our last five games in France we have kept four clean sheets but we know that in attack we must improve.
Gent are a brave team who impose their style not only at home but also away – they gave Anderlecht a good game [drawing 1-1 in Brussels last month] and could have won. It would be fantastic to start with three points but even a draw wouldn't be bad because this is a group stage featuring teams on a similar level; every team can compete with each other.
Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach:
I'm back in Rome with a few more years on the clock, but also more experience. Rome is a city I have only positive memories of. For me it will be a special game, but that doesn't matter because the most important thing is that we make a winning start to this UEFA Champions League season.
Last month's Joan Gamper Trophy game is no guide to what will happen. I expect a Roma side like the one I saw in Serie A against Juventus [Roma's 2-1 home win in August] – a strong team that knows how to press, knows how to play the ball and has players of great quality, able to create dangerous situations at any time.
Yasin Öztekin, Galatasaray midfielder:
Of course we wanted to make a good start to the competition and we had prepared well but we were playing against one of the best teams in the world. We made some simple errors in the first half and conceded two goals. We also could not create much in the first half.
The game could have turned if we converted some of our chances, but [Atlético] are a disciplined team. Sometimes you can’t score goals but we are creating chances. Last season, we also made a disappointing start but we went on to win the league and the Turkish Cup - the same will happen again this season. So nobody should write us off.
Dinamo Zagreb return to the group stage for the first time since 2012 as Arsenal visit Croatia ...
André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach:
The players are ready and prepared. It is a match that everyone wants to play. We are facing the most difficult match we have ahead of us. [Valencia] are very good and very organised. It will be a difficult match for us.
What I fear the most is Valencia's height and their counterattacks. The diagonals balls from [José] Gayà to [Sofiane] Feghouli against Monaco were a constant threat. And so was the change of rhythm from [Daniel] Parejo. Javi Fuego gives a lot of balance to the team and he knows how to pass and how to organise. There are not a lot of stars, but the team works hard both in offence and in defence.
Following a clean sweep of victories for Spanish sides in last night's action, both today's Marca and AS pay homage to Real Madrid, Atlético, Sevilla and the power of Spanish football in general.
"Spanish Champions" roars the front page of AS, who list all three results with particular attention given to hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese has now scored eight times in four days and is closing in on Raúl club record of 323 goals.
Marca, meanwhile, says "Poderío", or power, in reference to Spanish football's dominance on a magical night with a photo of three of last night's standout performers in the shape of Ronaldo, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro. The Madrid-based daily do slightly dampen things however by admitting there are now big injury doubts over Gareth Bale and club captain Sergio Ramos.
Poderío! (Power!) - Marca & AS laud victorious trio Madrid, Atlético & Sevilla and the strength of Spanish football. pic.twitter.com/Os8EDidyEw— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) September 16, 2015
Iker Casillas, Porto goalkeeper:
I've enjoyed many UEFA Champions League campaigns, it’s obvious that I’m experienced at this level, but that doesn’t mean I can take tomorrow’s match lightly. It’s always the same - high concentration and utmost commitment.
I have a great relationship with my new team-mates. We’ve got enough experienced players, our captain [Maicon] is a true leader of the team. At the same time we have young footballers who are great guys as well. Believe me, you can learn something from all them. This is my first season away from Real Madrid, but it’s not a problem.
Bayern, the German title holders, start their 19th group stage campaign at Olympiacos tonight ...
English newspapers have been examining Chelsea's stuttering start to the season and questioned whether José Mourinho is capable of building a lasting dynasty at a club. The suggestion that he has struggled to maintain progress into a third season saw the Chelsea manager round on his critics, claiming it was a "stupid question".
The Times quoted Mourinho as saying: "My third season in Porto, I didn't have a third season. At Inter, I didn't have a third season. My third season at Chelsea, the first time, I won the FA Cup and the League Cup, and I played the Champions League semi-finals. The third season in Real Madrid I won the Super Cup, lost the Copa del Rey final, and I went to the Champions League semi-finals. These are my third seasons, so click Google instead of asking stupid questions."
The Daily Mail said it was the most animated Mourinho has appeared this season and concluded: "The aura is fading fast, [there is] a vulnerability about this team. In isolation, this run of results is a blip and Mourinho is entitled to the occasional downturn. But this is Chelsea and very little about the workings of this club could be described as normal."
On target twice in Benfica's 6-0 league success against Belenenses, Greek international Kostas Mitroglou struck again as Rui Vitória's men got another UEFA Champions League campaign off to a victorious start at the expense of debutants Astana ...
He is amongst the youngest players in the UEFA Champions League this season, but José Luis Gayá still has history with the competition. The 20-year-old full-back and lifelong Valencia fan was approaching his sixth birthday the last time his club competed in a UEFA Champions League final – back in 2001 at the San Siro against Bayern – and grew up used to the idea of Valencia being a European powerhouse. Then, three years ago, he was named in his team’s UEFA Champions League squad to face Lille: "Everything that surrounded that game, the atmosphere and then the famous Champions League music... it was very special."
UEFA.com's expert panel review Tuesday's opening matches and we hear from Yaya Touré and Rudi Garcia: download it for free from iTunes.
Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal will be doubly keen to put his side's opening fixture in the group stage behind him – not only did his team surrender a one-goal lead against PSV but they will now be without the services of England full-back Luke Shaw for several months.
FC Astana’s Georgi Zhukov was is in good spirits despite being taken to hospital after his side’s 2-0 defeat at SL Benfica: "Why did I go to hospital after the match? Allergies. To what? Losing," smiled the 20-year-old midfielder. "I like playing teams who have strong players and a good pitch," he continued. "We saw we can match them if we play well, we’re not out of our depth."
"We just lacked a bit of courage. Benfica are probably on another level, but I'm sure we can take points against them at home," agreed team-mate Roger Cañas. "It is absolutely possible, but at first we need to think about Galatasaray and Atletico. We can take points against any of these teams at our home ground."
Mönchengladbach's 2014/15 season was characterised by their ability to make frequent changes to the starting lineup without any drop in performance, meaning players remained fresh and opponents were kept guessing. After last night's 3-0 defeat by Sevilla, local paper Rheinische Post feels that is no longer the case: "Lucien Favre is still rotating his team, but it is part of a trial and error process looking for the right formation."
Olympiacos coach Marco Silva isn't giving much away about which formation he will employ tonight when Bayern visit.
On Monday, during training, the Thrylos lined up 4-2-3-1 with Esteban Cambiasso and Pajtim Kasami as the holding midfielders, while Hernâni and Felipe Pardo featured on the wings. However, this morning, Marco Silva switched to 4-5-1 (4-3-3 when in attack), replacing Hernâni with another central midfielder - Leandro Salino getting the nod alongside Kasami and Cambiasso. The Portuguese coach is clearly aware that FCB don't just focus their attacks down the flanks - with Douglas Costa in particularly good form - but they can also quickly transition.
Leverkusen head coach Roger Schmidt is set to ring the changes for the Werkself's Group E opener against BATE this evening, according to regional newspaper Express. The 48-year-old is expected to name summer signings Admir Mehmedi and Javier Hernández in his starting XI, with midfielders Christoph Kramer and Julian Brandt likely to make way.
Meanwhile, sporting director Rudi Völler has warned Leverkusen not to underestimate the record Belarusian champions, who beat Bayern in their last encounter with German opposition back in 2012. "The Belarusians will regard us as favourites," said the former Germany head coach. "They will thrive in their role as underdogs."
Unai Emery, Sevilla coach:
We are proud of the final result. We are becoming consistent and we are maturing. We got into dangerous positions, which is the reason we won three penalties. We will take it match by match and enjoy ourselves as well as trying to compete. This has been a big day for all Sevilla supporters.
The first glimpse of "a new Juventus" is how matchwinner Álvaro Morata described it but last night's Group D encounter in Manchester felt, in some ways, like more of the same for both the Bianconeri and Manchester City.
Juventus, as during their run to last season's final, pulled off a big result in a timeworn fashion. Morata, scorer of their 81st-minute winning goal, said "the key was sticking together" and the Spaniard is hopeful last night's impressive victory will give their campaign lift-off.
"We haven't started the season in the best way possible but we've had a lot of changes from last season and it is not easy when you change almost half the team," he told UEFA.com. "Today can be a starting point for us – we've just beaten one of the best teams in Europe so that must put us up there too. We just have to get used to playing together. From now you'll see a new Juventus.
"What got us the victory was working together defensively. We shut down the space for a team who have some of the best players in the world."
With the PSV starting XI's combined total of UEFA Champions League appearances ahead of kick-off amounting to less than a third of Bastian Schweinsteiger's personal tally, Manchester United's experience might have been expected to pay in their opening Group B game.
And yet, despite going a goal behind and being outplayed for most of the first half, the Dutch champions – many of whose players were making their debut at this level – refused to buckle, bouncing back to win the game.
"We kept believing that it was possible, even when we were behind," said PSV coach Phillip Cocu. "We were convinced that we would get chances. It was then up to us to take them. Narsingh's goal demonstrated that – he almost never scores with his head. We also had to be sharp defensively. It became clear that we couldn't play our way out of defence in the last 15 minutes, but we did make sure that we preserved our lead."
Tuesday's 3-0 Group D victory over Mönchengladbach showcased the midfielders and forwards jostling for attention in Unai Emery's much-changed Sevilla squad.
"The settling-in period is a process that takes some players longer than others, but we're going to need them all," said the Basque-born coach after the match. "All the players are fully aware of how competitive we are – how much we want to win and how we want our season to pan out. We need everybody on board in order to compete at a high level in every competition."
A third UEFA Champions League hat-trick from Cristiano Ronaldo moved the competition's top scorer onto 80 goals as Real Madrid cruised to a 4-0 victory over Shakhtar on matchday one.
"I'm not going to lie – obviously, I'm very happy with the goals and the records," the attacker told UEFA.com. "I get a sense of pride from being in this position, but I have to mention the team, because the team has helped me so much.
"We're on the right track – we're doing well. The side have confidence and we want to continue this way."
"The Kings can do it all" proclaims the headline in Ukrainian newspaper Sport-Express this morning, citing a well-known Soviet song as they examine Shakthar's 4-0 loss at Real Madrid.
Meanwhile, Dynamo Kyiv coach Serhiy Rebrov hopes his side's fans will put on a good display against Porto. "It's important we start well at home," he said, in an interview with Komanda. "I'm sure our supporters will back us, and we will try to not let them down." Rebrov added: "The Champions League is the ultimate stage for coaches as well."
Leverkusen have failed to score since Karim Bellarabi netted in the 88th minute of the Werkself's 3-0 UEFA Champions League play-off second leg victory against Lazio a fortnight ago. Who better to call upon, then, than former Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Javier Hernández, who is likely to make his full debut for Roger Schmidt's charges this evening.
"When you put your opponents under pressure, it creates a tactical instability. That's something we can take advantage of and [Chicharito] is excellent at that," said Schmidt, whose side have been beaten 3-0 by Bayern and 1-0 by Darmstadt in their last two Bundesliga games. "I hope he can score the goals we need."
There are no crowds at the box office if you want to watch Dinamo take on Arsenal tonight.
On 18 September 2002, Bayern lost 3-2 to Deportivo La Coruña at the Olympiastadion, Roy Makaay's hat-trick securing the points for the visitors. They have not been beaten in the first game of a group stage campaign since. On the same evening, Olympiacos beat the previous season's finalists Bayer Leverkusen 6-2: it remains their biggest UEFA Champions League group stage win.
"A match at the Mestalla is a real chance to bring home from Spain something more valuable this time than a pair of fridge magnets and a traditional package from duty free," says Russian daily newspaper Sports Day by Day as Zenit look to end a nine-game winless streak against Liga sides.
Arsenal are certainly favourites, but Dinamo Zagreb have played their best matches of recent years at the start of their European campaigns. Their best hope is the threat posed by the attacking quartet of Ángelo Henríquez – 25 goals in 31 games – El Arabi Hilal Soudani, Junior Fernandes and Armin Hodžic.
With speculation rife that this might be Josep Guardiola's last season as Bayern coach, the German press is wondering whether he might sign off with a UEFA Champions League win, following two semi-final appearances. Süddeutsche Zeitung published a long feature on 'Pep' today, arguing that he "looks more prepared to compromise and more determined than ever on his path to lead Bayern into the Champions League final".
Stylish football may be sacrificed for success, the paper continued: "Appearances are not everything - perhaps that is the lesson for Guardiola following his first two years in Munich. What remains is the desire for a heroic end to the season."
Roma started last season's campaign with an emphatic 5-1 win against CSKA Moskva, but few are expecting a repeat on Wednesday. Even Rudi Garcia has suggested it will require a miracle to beat the holders. "They do happen in football, though," he said.
Indeed Barcelona's Javier Mascherano is not taking their opening game lightly, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport that it will be "anything but easy" at the Stadio Olimpico, citing the enthusiasm at a "legendary venue" as one of the challenges the early-season Liga pacesetters must overcome.
What would normally be viewed as a routine way for Chelsea to secure their first three points of the group campaign has suddenly become a must-win fixture. It is highly out of character for Chelsea to concede three goals – it has happened twice now already – so José Mourinho will be seeking more defensive solidity against a Maccabi side who have nothing to lose.
It was as a squad goalkeeper at Porto that Valencia coach Nuno Espírito Santo got to know Zenit boss André Villas-Boas, who was then the club's scout, tactical analyst and assistant coach. So he, more than anyone, will know the disadvantage of having to face Zenit without his two first choice keepers, Diego Alves and Matty Ryan. Valencia have several players making UEFA Champions League debuts, but so is Nuno himself. Expect one of Europe's best atmospheres at the revamped Mestalla.
Nabil Fekir's long-term injury is a blow to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas' dreams of the club's new stadium, due to open at the start of 2016, hosting UEFA Champions League football this season. Coach Hubert Fournier has warned not to expect miracles from attacking trident Alexandre Lacazette, Mathieu Valbuena and Claudio Beauvue, though a match against debutants Gent could be the perfect opportunity for them to develop an understanding.
Real Madrid have announced that captain Sergio Ramos jarred his shoulder during last night's 4-0 victory over Shakthar. The club have not specified how long 29-year-old will be out for, but he is almost certain to miss the visit of Granada this weekend, and may face a fight to be fit for UEFA Champions League matchday two's visit to Malmö.
After undergoing considerable changes over the summer, and with a new coach at the helm, Olympiacos face the ultimate test on matchday one against German champions Bayern. With so many new faces in the squad, they are yet to gel – could they click when it matters most? They have little to lose, much as they did against the likes of Juventus, Atlético, Benfica and Manchester United in the previous two seasons – all four were beaten in Piraeus.
If there are nerves around the Mestalla tonight, most of them will be about Valencia trying to overcome a quick, experienced, well-coached rival in Zenit. But on the bench there will be a different kind of nervousness as André Gomes returns to action in front of his home fans for the first time in four months.
Injury, an operation, rehab and then falling ill during Valencia's pre-season tour have all held back one of the most promising signings of the Nuno Espírito Santo era, but Gomes came on as a substitute at the weekend and says: "I've come back stronger, more aware of my career and with greater hunger. My fitness isn't as good as my team-mates' yet, but I'm ready if needed tonight."
BATE can take heart from Leverkusen's defeat by promoted Darmstadt in the Bundesliga at the weekend. The Belarusians also boast an impressive record against German opposition in Europe: three wins from four matches. With Group E games against Barcelona and Roma to come, though, the hosts will see this as a must-win encounter.
Unlike their opponents, Dynamo Kyiv managed to keep their squad largely intact over the summer. They also started their domestic season in mid-July and are therefore already close to optimal condition. Expect Serhiy Rebrov's men to go for the win, potentially leaving the door open for Porto to hit them on the break.
Maccabi general manager Jordi Cruyff takes issue with the consensus view that this is the ideal time to be facing Chelsea, the London club having lost three of their first five games in defence of their Premier League crown. Cruyff argues: "The best thing that can happen to Chelsea after their difficult start to the season is to play at home in the Champions League knowing that they have 90 minutes to make the fans not worry any more and to make sure they're standing right behind you again.
"It's never a pleasure to play against a team like Chelsea when they have not been on a good run and it's also not good if they have won five in a row. Actually, maybe it's never a good time to play Chelsea!"
Cruyff is delighted that his club is mixing with the elite at this level and says it will be a good experience for all their players, particularly the younger element. "For us it's a game with no pressure," he added. "We've made a huge achievement because of the difficulties we have not being able to sign too many foreign players and [other] limitations. We have been lucky to knock out some higher-ranked teams [in qualifying ] so we just want to compete and not worry too much about what happens."
Arsenal's players left their hotel to take a walk around the centre of Zagreb as they prepared for this evening's game. Thierry Henry, who came to Zagreb with Arsenal's youth team, caused perhaps the biggest stir on the streets, the Frenchman called upon to give a lot of autographs as he strolled through the city's Zrinjevac Park.
Eduardo da Silva was sold to Arsenal after a great match against the Gunners nine years ago. This season, plenty of other Dinamo players will be looking to catch the eye. Marko Pjaca may be the pick of them.
The 20-year-old forward is quick, strong and great in one-on-one situations. Arsène Wenger is likely to know all about Ante Ćorić too. The 18-year-old is another class act, while 20-year-old Marko Rog – another midfielder – was considered promising enough for Dinamo to pay a record €5m fee to RNK Split for him this summer.
83 members of the Croatian branch of the official Arsenal fan club will be at the game between Arsène Wenger’s side and their hosts Dinamo in Zagreb.
The current president of the branch is Martina Grđan, 26, who took up the position in 2011. Martina actually met the Arsenal manager ahead of a previous UEFA Champions League tie back in 2007: "He actually came to training by bicycle. He likes to chat to fans."
Maccabi coach Slaviša Jokanović is looking forward to facing one of his former clubs in the UEFA Champions League ...
The countdown has started. Looking forward to playing at his great stage. ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/knMUwpMxOw— Slavisa Jokanovic (@Jokanovic) September 16, 2015
Maccabi are in the group stage for only the second time. We take a look at Nir Klinger's side from 2004/05 ...
Spanish football paper Marca have invested resources in achieving the valuable commodity of an interview with Zenit's Brazilian striker Hulk. He shared a squad with Valencia coach Nuno, at Porto between 2008/10 and has 27 goals in all UEFA competitions. Infamous for his power and battling physicality the Zenit striker has a stark message for the Mestalla faithful: "Valencia are not the favourites tonight".
Whatever the temperature in St Petersburg tonight - currently 33C - it's going to be steamy for all 22 players and Scottish referee Craig Thomson as Valencia host Zenit. A night to keep the ball well!
Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré on last night's defeat against Juventus ...
Not the result we wanted last night, but we are now focused on our next games. We are together and determined. #ComeOnCity— Yaya Touré (@YayaToure) September 16, 2015
BATE defender Maksim Zhavnerchik will miss the tie at Leverkusen through injury. Yellow-Blues coach Aleksandr Yermakovich is likely to select Latvian international Kaspars Dubra to replace the No15.
In the couple of years since the world's finest club competition graced Valencia's stadium it has had quite a facelift This is how it looks now – and how proud they are of it.
This is what the Portuguese sports press is saying today about FC Porto's 2-2 draw at Dynamo Kyiv ...
"Aboubakar deserved more." writes Record, with O Jogo explaining that "an error in the final minute took the victory away, ruining the Cameroon forward's great night”, under the headline "Aboubakar betrayed".
Vincent Aboubakar was, in fact, the star of the night in Ukraine, scoring twice – once with a nice header and once with an opportune and powerful right foot shot - turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead, leading A Bola to conclude: "Aboubakar has goals from head to toe". He has scored six times in five matches this season, rising to the task after the departure of Jackson Martinez.
The Russian press applauded Zenit for their opening 3-2 win at Valencia with special praise for double-scorer Hulk and the man that got the clincher, Alex Witsel. "Zenit showed themselves to be a team with more quality no matter how strange that sounds when we usually compare clubs from Russia and Spain," says Sport-Express.
Sovetski Sport football observer Evgeni Dzichkovski wrote: "Zenit deserve only good words and it's not about the three points or a solid display. They fought, sure, but they have had better matches and more convincing wins. This time it's their goal-seeking attitude and sense of purpose that pleased the eye. With all these crazy shots, an emotional André Villas-Boas and even mistakes made by [keeper] Yuri Lodygin because of his deep personal involvement."
Pressball.by sums up the key points of BATE Borisov's 4-1 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen thusly: "It was far from the 6-0 opening loss [to Porto] in 2014, but the Leverkusen match still had the same scenario. A possibility of big defeats were the main concern of BATE supporters ahead of yet another group stage campaign. Each season reminds them the same story when team show heroics in the qualifying rounds to reach the shining summit which is already enough, and then it unfolds at random."
"This time it ended badly and it's not about Bayer being a head higher then Belarus leading club of the decade, but about BATE having nothing to offer. Visiting side had just two shots on goal and that's clearly below par at this stage, not mentioning 21 shots made by Germans."
Bayer Leverkusen's victory against BATE saw two new signings coming to the fore. Javier Hernández's goal earned him the headlines in Express: "What a superb performance by the Mexican! And what would have happened if Chicharito would have scored from his other two chances? Would the BayArena have exploded?"
Meanwhile, the Austrian media notes how Kevin Kampl's difficult year could take a turn for the better. After his move from Borussia Dortmund at the end of August, Sportnet observed a different demeanor to the Slovenian: "He pulled the strings and was always involved in the dangerous moments. He wetted the fans' appetite for more outstanding performances like those the Austrian fans got to witness during his Salzburg days."
"Welcome back!" reads the headline of Sport-Express after Dynamo Kyiv's 2-2 home draw against FC Porto, ending a three-year exile from the UEFA Champions League. "Kyiv missed the Champions League like a man misses a women from who he was once separated by force of circumstances and has compared every other girl to her since," they write. "A 2-2 draw may have not fully satisfied the hosts, but they could also have lost the game easily."
Barcelona have confirmed that midfielder Rafinha will require surgery after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in last night's 1-1 draw at Roma and will be out for several months. Luis Enrique feared the worst when Rafinha went down injured following a challenge from Roma's Radja Nainggolan just moments after coming on as a substitute.
"We need to wait for the diagnosis but it looks like Rafinha's knee injury is quite bad; this is the worst thing that could happen to us on this matchday," said the Barça coach, who now has to decide who will step in to deputise for the Brazilian, with youngsters Munir El Haddadi and Sandro Ramírez set for another chance in the first team after impressing last season.
The Barcelona-based newspaper Sport referred to Rafinha's injury on its front cover on Thursday, lamenting "a point tinged with misfortune".
BATE defender Kaspars Dubra pinpointed a poor start to both halves as the main reason for the Belarusian club's 4-1 defeat by Leverkusen. "We clearly failed in the opening minutes," he said. “We seemed to have the right attitude, but it was different story on pitch. Now we need to see this through and analyse our mistakes in order not to repeat them."
Dinamo Zagreb are the talk of Croatia after their 2-1 defeat of Arsenal – the Prva Liga champions' first group stage victory in 16 matches. Dinamo's win is the top story in all of the newspapers and on radio and TV, while social media is abuzz with chatter about the result. The headline on Večernji reads "Spectacular Dinamo", with the daily adding: "Big Arsenal are down – let's enjoy that."
The Times say Chelsea's 4-0 triumph over Maccabi Tel-Aviv will have raised spirits at Stamford Bridge ahead of the visit of London rivals Arsenal on Saturday, but are not sure whether it marks a turning point in their season given how easy life was for the Blues last night.
"Whether Mourinho has finally turned Chelsea's ailing ship towards calmer waters, or merely enjoyed a brief lull before another storm, remains to be seen, although the victory will at least have bought them some breathing space," writes Matt Hughes.
Real Madrid have confirmed Gareth Bale sustained a calf injury in the 4-0 win against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday. The Merengues say his time on the sidelines will be "determined by the evolution of the injury", but he will miss the Liga encounter with Granada on Saturday and is a doubt for Madrid's next UEFA Champions League game, away to Malmö on 30 September.
The performance of Kieran Gibbs in Arsenal's loss to Dinamo Zagreb will have been a source of comfort for England manager Roy Hodgson in a week when one of Gibbs' rivals for the left-back position in the national team, Manchester United's Luke Shaw, suffered a double fracture of his right leg away to PSV Eindhoven, says The Telegraph.
"Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs was given what is now a rare start on this European night, and he gave Roy Hodgson a much-needed reminder as to the extent of his options in that position," the daily explains. "Gibbs boasts an impressive reading of the game and in making four tackles and four interceptions in just 65 minutes he not only did much defensive work but also sparked Arsenal moves forward, too. Losing Shaw will have been a real blow to the England camp, but Gibbs is capable of winning his spot back at club level and could ease Hodgson's concerns ahead of Euro 2016."
Roma goalkeeper Wojciech Szczęsny will be out for up to six weeks after the Italian club confirmed that the Polish international dislocated a finger on Wednesday. The 25-year-old, on loan from Arsenal, had to leave the field after 50 minutes of the 1-1 draw against Barcelona. Tests have confirmed, though, that Szczęsny did not sustain a fracture to the fourth finger of his left hand, but he is set to miss the game against BATE Borisov on 29 September.
Atlético coach Diego Simeone says he sees no reason why centre forwards Fernando Torres and Jackson Martínez cannot play together, even though they are yet to feature in the same starting line-up this season. Torres started against Barcelona last weekend, while the Colombian got the nod against Galatasaray, and was replaced by the Spaniard on the hour mark.
"Of course they can play together, why not?" said Simeone. "They are compatible players. A few years ago we played with Costa and Falcao, and in some games last year Mario Mandžukić played with Torres. Jackson and Fernando are different players, one is left footed and the other right footed, so they can be compatible."
Real Madrid boss Rafa Benítez has dismissed talk of an injury crisis at the club. Gareth Bale has been ruled out for two weeks with a thigh problem, Danilo and James Rodríguez are not expected back until next month with muscle problems, and Sergio Ramos is currently nursing a dislocated shoulder.
But the Spanish tactician is not worried about his team's prospects in the coming weeks. "We don’t have that many injuries," said Benítez.
"It's normal for a big team that plays so many high intensity, top level games. From a fitness point of view, the team is responding with a lot of intensity. The number of injuries we have had is normal. Two players [James and Danilo] got injured on international duty and the other two injuries are traumas, which you cannot prevent."
Lionel Messi and Jérémy Mathieu both returned to full training with Barcelona on Friday after picking up knocks at the end of their team's 1-1 draw with Roma, in which their team-mate Rafinha suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear, ruling him out for the rest of 2015.
Catalan newspaper Sport reports that Barça will move into the transfer market in January to cover for the loss of the Brazilian, with Celta Vigo forward Nolito and Valencia man Sofiane Feghouli cited as the two players Luis Enrique would most like to sign.
Just three days after their victory against Arsenal in the opening match of Group F Dinamo Zagreb have another huge match in the shape of traditional league rivals Hajduk Split.
The magnitude of the fixture is diplayed in the fact celebrations were kept to a minimum after Wednesday's win, despite it being their first UEFA Champions League victory in 16 years.
"There was no time to celebrate after victory against Arsenal, the match against Hajduk is too close. I hope we are not fully empty after Wednesday’s match and that we will go fully confident and motivated to Stadion Poljud and take the three points," said Josip Pivarić, scorer against Arsenal.
Things could be better for Borussia Mönchengladbach - they currently rank bottom in the Bundesliga and recently lost their UEFA Champions League group stage opener at Sevilla.
There is at least one bit of good news for Swiss coach Lucien Favre ahead of this weekend's Bundesliga derby against Köln, the fact influential winger Patrick Herrmann has resumed training following a knee injury which has seen him sidelined since the beginning of the month.
"We will have to wait and see," Favre said regarding a place for Herrmann in the starting XI against Köln.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri hopes to build on the 2-1 success at Manchester City in their Group D opener by guiding the Bianconeri to their first Serie A win this term. The Old Lady visit Genoa on Sunday.
"Tuesday's win was an important step in our Champions League campaign," said Allegri. "Starting off with an away triumph over the group favourites, and a side tipped to win the competition outright, is a good result for everyone. But the league is a different matter entirely."
Speaking ahead of Sunday's fixture, Allegri continued: "We’ve started badly in terms of results, despite decent performances against Udinese and Chievo, but we need to be realistic and look at the table. Genoa is a tough place to go to. It's one of those games that become crucial for your season as a whole."
Second-half strikes by Kurt Zouma and Eden Hazard earned Chelsea a 2-0 home win against Arsenal, who ended the game with nine men.
New signings Arturo Vidal and Kingsley Coman both struck their first Bundesliga goals to send Bayern top of the table. Sebastian Rode completed the scoring against Darmstadt when he fired in from close range. The Bavarians have won their last seven matches in all competitions.
Wolfsburg moved up to third in the Bundesliga on Saturday as a second-half double from substitute Bas Dost secured a 2-0 home win against Hertha Berlin.
Mönchengladbach fell to their sixth straight defeat in the all competitions as Anthony Modeste's second-half strike won the Rhine derby for Köln. Lucien Favre's men are bottom of the Bundesliga without a point.
Karim Benzema headed in the winner against Granada as Cristiano Ronaldo remained on 499 career goals after Real Madrid's 1-0 victory. Ronaldo needed a hat-trick to overtake Raúl González's club record haul of 323 for the Whites.
Shakhtar Donetsk recovered from the 4-0 reverse at Real Madrid on Tuesday by posting their third win in as many Ukrainian Premier League games, Fred and Alex Teixeira finding the net before the break.
Early pacesetters Dinamo Zagreb drew 0-0 at Hajduk Split in the Eternal derby, three days after ending their 16-year wait for a group stage win by beating Arsenal 2-1. Hajduk had Julián Velázquez sent off late on.
Edinson Cavani rescued a point for Paris with his sixth goal in his last four appearances as the French champions were held 1-1 at Reims. The Uruguay striker finished off Javier Pastore's pass, moments after Theoson Siebatcheu had given the hosts an 83rd-minute lead.
Valencia drew for the third time in four Liga games this term as ten-man Betis claimed a useful away point. Right-winger Joaquín, in his second spell at Betis, faced his former club at the Mestalla.
West Ham ended Manchester City's perfect start to the Premier League campaign with 2-1 away win, becoming the first English team to score against them this season. Club record signing Kevin De Bruyne scored his first goal for the leaders.
Galatasaray bounced back from Tuesday's 2-0 home defeat against Atlético by recording a 1-0 success at Trabzonspor. Stéphane Mbia's late own goal was the difference.
FT: Trabzonspor 0-1 Galatasaray! pic.twitter.com/6Hb4ZYJdB3— Galatasaray EN (@Galatasaray) September 19, 2015
Heracles upset the odds by coming from behind to beat PSV. The hosts leapfrogged Ajax at the top of the Eredivisie following their surprise success. Luuk de Jong struck a second-minute opener – his sixth goal in as many league outings this term – before Heracles fought back to win 2-1 and end PSV's unbeaten start to the campaign.
GOAL GOAL GOAL LUUK DE JONG pic.twitter.com/Jcz5z1Omm8— PSV (@PSV) September 19, 2015
Fernando Torres's second goal of the season rubber-stamped Atlético's third triumph in four Liga games. Substitute Ángel Correa put the Rojiblancos in front 60 seconds after replacing Koke 16 minutes into the second half.
Influential Atlético midfielder Koke suffered a hamstring injury in his side's 2-0 win at Eibar on Saturday and is a doubt for the Rojiblancos' next UEFA Champions League Group C match at home to Benfica. The Spain international was replaced by Ángel Correa after going off injured, and the Argentine made an instant impact on the game, scoring the opening goal and then providing the pass for Fernando Torres to net a second and seal the points.
Portuguese newspapers focus their attention on tonight’s ‘Clássico’ between Liga leaders Porto and third-placed Benfica with the champions trailing their unbeaten rivals by a point. Newspaper A Bola gives the spotlight to both experienced and multititled goalkeepers Iker Casillas and Júlio César.
“Giants in the Clássico" runs A Bola on their frontage, saying that "for the first time in Portugal there will be two European Cup winners in the tie”. The 34-year old Spaniard won it three times with Real Madrid and Júlio César once with Internazionale Milano. Curiously, adds A Bola, "they have just faced each other once, in 30 June 2013 in the FIFA Confederations Cup final, when Brazil beat Spain 3-0."
Sevilla's domestic form did not improve on Sunday as they slumped to a 2-1 home loss to Celta Vigo. Second bottom with just two points from four games, the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League winners struck via Fernando Llorente after the break, having already conceded goals from Nolito and Daniel Wass.
There was incredible drama at Mordovia this afternoon as CSKA Moskva completed a remarkable comeback. The Russian Premier League leaders fell behind in the first minute and were reduced to ten men when Mário Fernandes was dismissed on 12 minutes – and the damage continued as CSKA found themselves 3-0 down just three minutes later.
However, they pulled one goal back after the break before the hosts also had a player sent off, with Zoran Tošić and Seydou Doumbia then levelling the scores. Mordovia took the lead again, but Ahmed Musa (pictured) struck twice in the closing stages and Doumbia added another to cap an incredible 6-4 victory.
Astana tasted defeat for the second time this week after going down 1-0 at home to Kazakh Premier League pacesetters Kairat Almaty. The result left Astana – beaten 2-0 by Benfica on Tuesday – four points behind Kairat in second.
Belgian champions Gent caught the eye this afternoon with a 4-1 home triumph against Standard. Hein Vanhaezebrouck's men conceded early on but equalised before the break and scored three times after the restart, Thomas Matton scoring twice against opponents who ended with nine men.
Juventus have posted their first win of the Serie A season after prevailing 2-0 at Genoa. An own goal from Eugenio Lamanna got the champions up and running on 37 minutes and Genoa lost Armando Izzo to a red card before the interval, with a Paul Pogba penalty sealing the result on the hour.
Francesco Totti hit his 300th goal for Roma in a 2-2 draw with Sassuolo that kept the capital side unbeaten in Serie A this term. The 38-year-old cancelled out Gregoire Defrel's opener, before Mohamed Salah did likewise following Matteo Politano's 44th-minute effort for Sassuolo.
Magnus Eikrem and Felipe Carvalho grabbed the goals as Malmö recovered from their midweek loss at Paris Saint-Germain to win 2-0 at Djurgården in Sweden's top flight. The result kept the Group A contenders within nine points of leaders Göteborg in fifth.
CAAAARVALHO!— Malmö FF (@Malmo_FF) September 20, 2015
Dynamo Kyiv continue to lead the way in Ukraine after triumphing 2-0 at Volyn. Artem Kravets and Oleh Gusev scored either side of the break as the capital club made it seven wins from eight in the Ukrainian Premier League.
Zenit have dropped eight points behind Russian Premier League leaders CSKA after being held to a 1-1 draw at home to Amkar. The St Petersburg outfit went ahead early on via Artem Dzyuba but were pegged back by Chuma Anene on 66 minutes and are now without a win in their last three league fixtures.
Summer signing Anthony Martial made another big splash with two goals for Manchester United in a 3-2 success at Southampton. The 19-year-old former Monaco forward cancelled out a Graziano Pellè strike for the hosts shortly after the half-hour and pounced again after the restart, before Juan Mata increased the Red Devils' lead. Pellè's late second was not enough to deny United a fourth win in six Premier League games this season.
Bayer Leverkusen fell victims to the Dortmund juggernaut on Sunday as they were handed a 3-0 defeat by Thomas Tuchel's Bundesliga high-flyers. Jonas Hofmann, Shinji Kagawa and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang all found the net to seal a third consecutive league reverse for Leverkusen.
Putting their matchday one loss to Leverkusen behind them, BATE got back to winning ways in the Belarusian top flight with a slender 1-0 victory against Torpedo-Belaz Zhodino. Aleksandar Jevtić made the difference after 12 minutes to move his side 11 points clear at the summit, with closest rivals Dinamo Minsk in action on Monday.
Maccabi Tel-Aviv looked to have salvaged a point at home to Hapoel Ra'anana on Sunday evening only to be stunned late on. Barak Itzhaki had brought the Group G aspirants level with two minutes remaining, but there was late drama when Snir Shuker found the net for the visitors to seal a 2-1 win.
Porto kept themselves on top of the pile in Portugal with a 1-0 defeat of arch-rivals Benfica in the Clássico. Iker Casillas made a number of early saves for the home side and Vincent Aboubakar hit the post at the other end, but there was no stopping André André as he delivered the decisive blow four minutes from the final whistle.
Barcelona remain perfect in the Liga following a 4-1 victory against Levante, though they had to wait until the 50th minute to open their account. Marc Bartra showed the way and Neymar struck shortly afterwards, with Lionel Messi then burying a penalty to increase the deficit. Víctor Casadesús was able to respond for Levante, but Messi had the last word in the final minute – after having fired a second spot kick over the bar.
Alexandre Lacazette celebrated his first goal this season, but there was no victory at the end of it for Lyon as they had to settle for a 1-1 draw at Marseille. Karim Rekik levelled for the hosts shortly after play resumed following an interruption due to missiles on the pitch.
This blog is now closed, but our rolling coverage of the UEFA Champions League will resume on Monday.