After a thrilling opening to the competition on matchday one the UEFA Champions League resumes with a series of intriguing fixtures on 27/28 September, none more so than Manchester City FC's Group A trip to FC Bayern München.
SSC Napoli held the Blues at the City of Manchester Stadium and will now be out for revenge when they host Villarreal CF, who eliminated the Italian side from last season's UEFA Europa League. Group D, meanwhile, brings together two of the competition's most successful clubs, Real Madrid CF and AFC Ajax, at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu and Wednesday has its share of mouthwatering ties with Valencia CF entertaining Chelsea FC and Borussia Dortmund tackling Olympique de Marseille.
Manchester City intend to succeed where local rivals Manchester United FC have failed in four attempts by winning at Bayern, though the German heavyweights will be confident of backing up their vibrant 2-0 matchday one victory at Villarreal. Jupp Heynckes' men, boasting eight successive wins in all competitions, have lost just once at home to English opposition, a 2-1 UEFA Cup defeat by Norwich City in 1993/94. Group stage newcomers City will be up against familiar faces with former defenders Daniel Van Buyten and Jérôme Boateng in the squad for the Bavarians who are pursuing a fifth European Cup.
With 13 European Cups between them there will be much expected when nine-times winners Real Madrid welcome Ajax who have lifted the trophy on four occasions. José Mourinho's team have had the better of the clubs' recent encounters, scoring six goals without reply in their two matches against the Dutch side in last season's group stage. But Ajax, who registered a scoreless draw with Olympique Lyonnais first time out, still have the better overall record with four victories to Madrid's three.
Juan Mata left the Mestalla a few weeks ago yet makes a quick return to his old Valencia home as a Chelsea player. The Spanish international scored 45 goals in 172 appearances for the Blanquinegros and was on target on matchday one as his new employers kicked off with a 2-0 triumph over Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The Londoners prevailed on their previous trip to Valencia, a 2-1 group stage success in 2007/08, but should face a stern test as the hosts have begun the Spanish Liga with three wins from three.
Other clubs have started their league seasons more slugglishly and will hope their fortunes can be reversed in Europe, not least Olympique de Marseille. A rare bright spot for the French outfit was their 1-0 matchday one victory at Olympiacos FC, yet they sit bottom of Ligue 1 with three points, and no wins, from six games. They receive guests Borussia Dortmund who themselves have lost their last two domestic fixtures. FC Internazionale Milano are also labouring and may need an improvement if they are to take anything from PFC CSKA Moskva. One point from two Serie A matches and a surprise home loss to Trabzonspor AŞ have put the pressure on Gian Piero Gasperini's men.
FC Basel 1893 coach Thorsten Fink will want to exorcise some demons when his charges travel to Manchester United. The former midfielder entered the fray in the 80th minute of the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League final with his Bayern team 1-0 up, before two dramatic late goals from Sir Alex Ferguson's side took the trophy to England instead.
Of matchday two's fixtures, ten of the 16 games are between clubs meeting for the first time in all competitions. They are: FC Bayern München v Manchester City FC, FC Oţelul Galaţi v SL Benfica, Olympique Lyonnais v GNK Dinamo Zagreb, Trabzonspor AŞ v LOSC Lille Métropole, FC Zenit St Petersburg v FC Porto, FC Shaktar Donetsk v APOEL FC, AC Milan v FC Viktoria Plzeň, Bayer 04 Leverkusen v KRC Genk, Olympique de Marseille v Borussia Dortmund, and FC BATE Borisov v FC Barcelona.
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