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UEFA Champions League live: 12 September

Published: Monday 12 September 2011, 21.53CET
With the UEFA Champions League group stage back on Tuesday,'s reporting team at all the venues keeps you up to speed with all you need to know before kick-off.
Published: Monday 12 September 2011, 21.53CET

UEFA Champions League live: 12 September

With the UEFA Champions League group stage back on Tuesday,'s reporting team at all the venues keeps you up to speed with all you need to know before kick-off.

The UEFA Champions League group stage is back, with's team of reporters at all the venues bringing you the latest updates. Click on the links at the bottom of this article for background on any of this week's games.

All times CET.

The UEFA Champions League live blog is finished for today but will return at 10.00CET tomorrow, starting with a flick through the morning papers.

Monday 20.30, Tim Vollmer in Dortmund
Arsenal FC's Laurent Koscielny is looking forward to resuming his new central defensive partnership with Per Mertesacker away to Borussia Dortmund in Group F. The duo helped register a clean sheet in Arsenal's win against Swansea City FC on Saturday and Koscielny paid tribute to his new colleague: "Per is a very good defender and has a lot of experience. He is a German international and he will help us with his height. It will be important that we defend well against Dortmund. We have a lot quality in our team and, with the new players, we can get through this group."

Monday 20.25, Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Piraeus
Captain Steve Mandanda says Olympique de Marseille can make light of their poor start to the French season when they make the trip to Greek champions Olympiacos FC in Group F. Although Marseille have taken only three points from five Ligue 1 matches, goalkeeper Mandanda told a pre-match media conference: "We are a solid group, with strong character, and we have a lot of games to be able to turn our campaign around."

Monday 20.18, Oleg Sokol in Donetsk
FC Shakhtar Donetsk skipper Darijo Srna is convinced UEFA Europa League holders FC Porto are as strong as ever, in spite of coach André Villas-Boas summer departure. Speaking ahead of Shakhtar's Group G assignment in northern Portugal, Srna said: "The only key player who left was Falcao and they are still playing the same way because new coach Vítor Pereira was Villas-Boas's assistant. They gave a decent performance in the UEFA Super Cup against [FC] Barcelona. So it will be tough against them."

Monday 19.58, Giovanni de Paola in Genk
Valencia CF defender Adil Rami has singled out Jelle Vossen as the man to watch in the KRC Genk side in Group E tomorrow, saying: "I know a bit about Genk but the most important thing is that there is a strong player, Vossen, who scored 20 goals for them last season." Perhaps with Vossen's threat in mind, French international Rami added that he was confident he could forge a strong understanding with Valencia's young centre-half Víctor Ruiz. "I feel comfortable playing with Víctor and our pairing will only get better."

Monday, 19.39, Lucy Turner in Barcelona
FC Barcelona midfielder Andrés Iniesta is looking forward to a healthy rivalry with his former Camp Nou team-mate Mark van Bommel when AC Milan come calling in Group H tomorrow. Despite the pair being on opposite sides in a sometimes fractious 2010 FIFA World Cup final, and being in competition for a first-team place during the Dutchman's single season with Barcelona in 2005/06, Iniesta insists there are no hard feelings. "My time with Van Bommel was good, we had a healthy competition. Yes, when we've played each other there've been some incidents but I don't have anything against him, just as he doesn't against me.

Monday 19.26, Tomáš Čunčík in Prague
FC BATE Borisov captain Dmitri Likhtarovich is demanding an instant return in Group H tomorrow – because the Belarusian champions' visit to Czech side FC Viktoria Plzeň precedes even tougher looking assignments against FC Barcelona and AC Milan. "It is vital we collect some points," the midfielder said. "We will do our best to start the campaign in such a way that will make us more confident about facing the favourites. This is the UEFA Champions League and your next match is always the most important."

Monday 17.49, Vassiliki Papantonopoulou in Piraeus
It's been 149 days since Olympiacos FC played their last competitive match, back on 17 April, when they defeated Larissa FC 6-0 and celebrated winning the Greek league title in style. That lack of competitive rhythm has been a major headache for Ernesto Valverde ahead of his side's match against Olympique de Marseille, but the Spanish coach was all smiles in the pre-match press conference: "We've had a pre-season that has lasted over two months, but we will know tomorrow if and how that has affected us."

Monday 17.31, newsdesk
Bayer 04 Leverkusen coach Robin Dutt is trying to keep his cards close to chest over whether or not he has selected Michael Ballack to face his former side, Chelsea FC tomorrow. "I have already decided," he told journalists at today's press conference at Stamford Bridge. "I have told Michael. He knows, I know, but everybody else will have to wait until they find out.

"But obviously you are right, he is very experienced and it would be foolish not to use that experience. He has showed in the Bundesliga that he is a very valuable player; he is in very good form. But I still want to leave a little bit of a doubt for the opposing manager, so I don't tell him everything already." Sounds like he may have already lost the element of surprise...

Monday 16.56, Paolo Menicucci in Milan
AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimović will not get the chance to face his former side after pulling up injured in training. The Swedish international, who played for the Azulgrana in the 2009/10 season, suffered a thigh strain this morning. "Tests have shown that the player has a strain in his thigh muscle and will not be leaving for Barcelona with the rest of the squad," reads a Milan statement. The Rossoneri will also be without Robinho, who has failed to recover from a long-standing groin injury.

Monday 16.48, newsdesk
FC Dinamo Zagreb coach Krunoslav Jurčić, who played for the club in their last group appearance in 1998/99, has told that meeting Real Madrid CF means facing his hero José Mourinho. "During the last few years I have analysed [Mourinho's] work as a coach a lot, and I can say he is my idol. I don't want to hide that."

Meanwhile, Davor Šuker – who played for both clubs – said: "Do I have advice for the Dinamo players? They should not think about the result Real regularly score five, but I hope that will not be the case in Zagreb. This match is like a Champions League final for Dinamo."

Read more from Jurčić and Šuker

Monday 16.31, Giovanni de Paola in Genk
Coach Mario Been has now spoken and said that his only absentee will be midfielder Kevin De Bruyne, still recovering from a thigh injury. He has also proclaimed confidence in his regular partnership at the back, saying: "I trust my two central defenders Jeroen Simaeys and Nadson and they will play."

Monday 16.20, Giovanni de Paola in Genk
Genk captain David Hubert told the pre-match press conference that they are keen to prove themselves against Valencia. "We had a very good season last year, it was a lot of work that we did and now we are taking advantages of last season's work, and we want to make a good impression in front of the world. We want to show our personal qualities, but also our skills as a group who works well together. We want to defend as much as we can and then we will try to attack to get the victory and only at the end we will see what we will be able to do."

Hubert previously spoke to about his UEFA Champions League excitement.

Monday 15.42, Denis Orlov in Minsk
BATE are to face Plzeň without a number of key performers. Vitali Rodionov, Aleksandr Yurevich, Artyom Kontsevoi and Aleksandr Pavlov are all injured, while Igor Shitov and Pavel Nekhaychik switched to FC Dinamo Moskva not long ago.

However, experienced striker Mateja Kežman is available for raring to go. "I'm looking forward to return to Europe's ultimate club tournament. It'll be extremely interesting to face champions from Spain, Italy and Czech Republic," said the Serbian international. "In the last few years BATE have reached the European level. If I perform the way I should, there will be chances for me to join a strong club in Europe and get back to the national team that seem to lack forwards."

Monday 14.54, Sébastien Blanchard in Paris
Yet to win in five Ligue 1 games, Marseille are eager to get back on track at Olympiacos, with coach Didier Deschamps keen to stave off talk of a crisis at the club following a 1-0 loss at home against Stade Rennais FC on Saturday. "There is no crisis; it is only a question of results," said the former France captain. "We are in a dark tunnel, and when things are not going well, it is my responsibility. Of course, changing the way we play is an option, but in a difficult time, it is best to keep cool."

Marseille are expected to be without Ghana midfielder André Ayew (groin) for the trip to Greece, while forward Mathieu Valbuena (leg) left the pitch after just 23 minutes on Saturday is not expected to feature in Piraeus, and André-Pierre Gignac (ankle) is doubtful.

Monday 15.01, Sam Crompton in Cobham
New Chelsea signing Raul Meireles said the chance to join up was a "golden opportunity." The former Porto midfielder, who ended a year at Liverpool FC on deadline day, said: "They have a great desire to win trophies and I was very happy to join them. It was an easy decision for me."

Despite allowing the midfielder to leave for Liverpool early in his time in charge of Porto,  Villas-Boas is delighted to be reunited with Meireles. "Raul is a versatile player who likes to make himself available for the ball," said the coach. "This is why we went for him and he will certainly add to the squad."

Monday 14.49, Carlos Santos in Porto
Porto's in-form young Colombian striker James Rodríguez is ready to realise his UEFA Champions League dream against Shakhtar. "Every Shakhtar player is good, the team are very good, as are Porto, and I know that we'll have a good game tomorrow. The first objective is to get the win, and if I get the opportunity to score as I have been doing, even better. Playing a match in the Champions League is the dream of every player, and I'm looking forward to making my debut tomorrow."

Monday 14.32, Sam Crompton in Cobham
André Villas-Boas is looking forward to his UEFA Champions League bow. "We have been determined to make it one of our objectives this season," the Chelsea manager said. "We hope to progress all the way to the end and hope to be at the level the Champions League requires."

He was also wary of the threat Leverkusen pose in their first competitive meeting. "They are a very good team and are picking up in the league," commented Villas-Boas. "They have a good blend of experience and players coming through. It will be a tough match."

Monday 14.16, newsdesk
Chelsea's press conference is under way at their Cobham training ground, with all the news and quotes from that event to appear on as soon as possible. Their guests, Leverkusen, will meet the press in London at 15.00.

Porto are also holding a reasonably early press conference in Group G, though their visitors, Shakhtar, will not take the stand until 19.00.

Coaches and players from all of the clubs in action on Tuesday will speak today, with the full conference schedule below.

Group E
Chelsea (13.30) v Leverkusen (15.00)
Genk (15.00) v Valencia (18.30)

Group F
Olympiacos (16.00) v Marseille (18.30)
Dortmund (18.45) v Arsenal (18.15)

Group G
Porto (14.00) v Shakhtar (19.00)
APOEL (19.00) v Zenit (17.30)

Group H
Barcelona (20.15) v Milan (18.45)
Plzeň (18.50) v BATE (18.00)

Monday 14.05, Roberta Radaelli in Milan
Milan full-back Gianluca Zambrotta trusts his coach Massimiliano Allegri to get his game plan right as the Italian champions take on Barcelona – the team Zambrotta represented from 2006-08 - in Group H. He said: "Allegri is preparing for this game very carefully, but we know that even if Barcelona have some weaknesses, they are still the team to beat in Europe and in the world. Nonetheless, I am not thinking of going there to try to get a draw. I'd really like to see an open game and my team-mates agree."

Zambrotta was rested for Friday's 2-2 draw against S.S. Lazio along with Clarence Seedorf, but both are expected to be available to start at Camp Nou.

Monday 13.50, Paul-Daniel Zaharia in Bucharest
Romanian daily sports paper Pro Sport noted that the whole Oţelul squad boast just 53 UEFA club competition appearances between them as they look ahead to their Group C visit to Basel, with captain Sergiu Costin the most experienced with 16 appearances – though all of them came in the UEFA Intertoto Cup while he was playing for CF Gloria 1922 Bistriţa.

Midfielder Sorin Frunză's 12 matches include games in the UEFA Champions League group stage and UEFA Europa League with FC Unirea Urziceni, while, Gabriel Paraschiv (six appearances), Silviu Ilie (six), Gabriel Giurgiu (five) and Cristian Sârghi (five) made their European debuts as Oţelul became one of nine sides to win the UEFA Intertoto Cup in 2007.

Monday 13.36, Steffen Potter in Frankfurt
Dortmund midfielder Kevin Grosskeutz is living the dream as the German champions welcome Arsenal in Group F. "For the first time in eight years, we are playing against the best teams," said the 23-year-old, a lifelong Dortmund fan. "That's insane. I could go nuts just thinking of our first home match against Arsenal; a sold-out stadium, floodlights, fans singing and the Champions League anthem – and everyone knows that I love British football."

Arsenal's new German signing Per Mertesacker also spoke about the game as he started to familiarize himself with the lay of the land in London. "I have only been here since Thursday and trained with the team just once before my first league game [a 1-0 win against Swansea City FC on Saturday]. It's not easy to communicate; you have to learn all your team-mates' names first."

Mertesacker played Dortmund 13 times with Hannover 96 and SV Werder Bremen, losing seven times, including his last four games at the BVB Stadion Dortmund, but he added: "Every match is different and Arsenal are stronger than Werder were."

Monday 13.24, John Leonidou in Nicosia
APOEL's Cypriot international defender Savvas Poursaitides says there is "no doubt" that Zenit are the favourites ahead of Tuesday's Group G clash in Nicosia.

The 35-year-old said, "There is no doubt that Zenit are the favourites, even though we will be at home with our fans behind us. They are a big club with plenty of international players, but we are also a worthy side and will do what we can to stop them. Our previous Champions League group stage campaign was a good one; we gained some experience which I hope will serve us well going into the game against Zenit."

Monday 13.20, Paul Bryan in Madrid
Genk have reason to be worried as they play host to Valencia, whose striker Roberto Soldado has form, scoring for the second week running as his side beat Club Atlético de Madrid 1-0 on Saturday night.

Regional newspaper Las Provincias writes: "He has had eight shots on target and scored four goals. Those early-season figures could not be more satisfying for the player or his coach Unai Emery, who has found his most dangerous weapon in Soldado."

The 26-year-old scored a hat-trick against Real Racing Club in Valencia's first game of the season and has scored 19 goals in all competitions since the start of 2011. Spain coach Vicente del Bosque was no doubt taking note as he watched Soldado in action at Mestalla on Saturday.

Monday 13.16, Steffen Potter in Frankfurt
Leverkusen have been handed a tough start in Group E, but are feeling positive as they prepare to take on new-look Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. "This is a career highlight so you have to enjoy it," explained striker Stefan Kiessling, while the club's captain Simon Rolfes believes the BayArena side have a future in Europe this season. "This is not a gentle start, but I am absolutely convinced that we will still be playing in the Champions League after the winter."

Coach Robin Dutt, who refused to reveal whether Michael Ballack would be fielded against his old club, added: "We are playing the biggest team right at the beginning, but we want to achieve something and get a result. We have not returned to the big, international stage to hide."

Monday 13.10, José Nuno Pimentel in Lisbon
Porto's return to the UEFA Champions League is filling the sports pages in Portugal, with O Jogo predicting that defensive midfielders Fernando and Souza will be left on the bench as Vítor Pereira enacts his plan to play more attacking football, starting with the Group G game against Shakhtar. "What Porto did in the second half of their gaome against Vitória FC was not an experiment," O Jogo warns.

That paper spoke to Shakhtar's Brazilian star Jadson about the upcoming game, and the midfielder said: "If we manage to stop Hulk it will be a lot easier; he is a great player." Record agrees, noting that Hulk and his new strike partner James Rodríguez have had a hand in 10 of Porto's 14 goals this season.

Full-backs Álvaro Pereira (right leg) and Cristian Săpunaru (left thigh) are both rated doubtful for the game by the Portuguese press.

Monday 13.02, Paul Bryan in Madrid
Barcelona let a 2-0 lead slip as they drew 2-2 at Real Sociedad de Fútbol on Saturday, and also lost attacker Alexis Sánchez for two months with a hamstring injury, but there was no sign of panic, with local paper Sport noting of coach Josep Guardiola: "Not a single shout, no dressing down of his players, no slaps on the wrist, nothing of the sort; after his side's first slip-up of the season, Barça's coach exuded peace and tranquility."

Xavi Hernández and Cesc Fàbregas put the European champions ahead with two goals in as many minutes, but La Real struck back in similar, rapid-fire style after the break. Guardiola, however, feels it was a one-off with their Group H opener looming, saying: "I'm certain that things will be very different against Milan."

Monday 13.00, London
There can be little argument over the game of the day, with holders Barcelona welcoming seven-time winners Milan to the Camp Nou. Ahead of that match we have been speaking exclusively to Rossoneri coach Massimo Allegri about lessons learned, while we also interviewed Cristiano Ronaldo, had a few words with Porto coach Vitor Pereira and visited group stage newcomers FC Oţelul Galaţi.

Meanwhile, Genk captain David Hubert described 'a dream come true' as his side reached the group stage, while Leverkusen's Michael Ballack is preparing to meet former team Chelsea. Alternatively, refresh your memory about last season's competition or take a look at our behind-the-scenes week at final venue, Wembley.

Monday 12.45, newsdesk
Before news from all of today's press conferences starts to filter through, this is an ideal time to update your UEFA Champions League Fantasy Football selection and to check out other great interactive features: Predictor, Player Rater, and Classics. There are super prizes on offer, and do not forget the launch of our new Ups and Downs feature on Thursday. We also have a brand new MatchCentre to look forward to.

Tuesday's fixtures
Group E

Chelsea FC v Bayer 04 Leverkusen
KRC Genk v Valencia CF

Group F
Olympiacos FC v Olympique de Marseille
Borussia Dortmund v Arsenal FC

Group G
FC Porto v FC Shakhtar Donetsk
APOEL FC v FC Zenit St Petersburg

Group H
FC Barcelona v AC Milan
FC Viktoria Plzeň v FC BATE Borisov

Wednesday's fixtures
Group A
Manchester City FC v SSC Napoli
Villarreal v FC Bayern München

Group B
LOSC Lille Métropole v PFC CSKA Moskva
FC Internazionale Milano v Trabzonspor AŞ

Group C
FC Basel 1893 v FC Oţelul Galaţi
SL Benfica v Manchester United FC

Group D
GNK Dinamo Zagreb v Real Madrid CF
AFC Ajax v Olympique Lyonnais

All times CET.

Last updated: 12/09/11 22.18CET