Lyon and Bremen find form

Anticipation for the start of the group stage is growing as the contenders continue to fine-tune their plans.

Lyon joy
Some are already even in domestic action. On Saturday, Olympique Lyonnais won their third consecutive French Super Cup by beating the side they pipped to last season's Ligue 1 title, Paris Saint-Germain FC. But they needed penalties to prevail in Cannes after a 1-1 draw, Jérémie Berthod converting Lyon's eighth spot-kick in a 7-6 victory.

Bremen advance
Meanwhile, SV Werder Bremen claimed a place in Monday's German League Cup final with a 2-0 triumph against VfB Stuttgart. There they will play FC Bayern München, who on Friday were involved in a three-team tournament to open VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach's new Borussia stadium. With each game lasting 45 minutes, Bayern opened with a 2-0 win against Mönchengladbach, but then lost 1-0 to AS Monaco FC, who beat the hosts by the same score, a useful boost for the French side who will learn on Wednesday if their third qualifying round opponents will be NK Gorica or FC København.

Champions World Series
Many of Europe's big guns continued their American trek in the Champions World Series. On Thursday, Chelsea FC overcame AS Roma 3-0, and a day later Champions League holders FC Porto won 1-0 against Liverpool FC, who meet Grazer AK in the third qualifying round. On Saturday, AC Milan ousted Manchester United FC 9-8 on penalties after a 1-1 draw in front of nearly 75,000 spectators in New York, while Roma improved on their previous result by defeating Celtic FC 1-0. Porto then fell 2-1 to Galatasaray SK yesterday.

Amsterdam Tournament
Three more group stage entrants featured in the AFC Ajax-hosted Amsterdam Tournament. On Friday, Ajax edged past Panathinaikos FC 3-2, while Arsenal FC drew 0-0 with Argentinian champions CA River Plate. Two days later, Ajax clinched the tournament with a 0-0 draw against Arsenal, while Panathinaikos lost 1-0 to River Plate.

Spanish sides in Japan
Three of Spain's leading clubs have flown east on tour, and on Sunday they had mixed results against Japanese opponents. FC Barcelona, who on Thursday had accounted for Korean club Suwon Bluewings FC, beat Kashima Antlers 5-0. Valencia CF did not have things so easy as they fell 5-2 to Albirex Niigata, but third qualifying round participants Real Madrid CF saw off Tokyo Verdy 4-0. However, Zinedine Zidane limped out of that game with a foot injury, though it is not known if he is a doubt for their opening Champions League match next week.

Greek preparations start
The Greek season does not start until after Champions League Matchday 1 on 14/15 September, but Olympiacos CFP, like title-holders Panathinaikos, have returned to action. Olympiacos began their friendly programme on Thursday, losing 1-0 to Polish team Groclin Grodzisk Wielkopolski.

Fenerbahçe ready
Conversely, the Turkish Superleague kicks off on Saturday. Fenerbahçe SK, who launch their title defence with a trip to Rizespor, won 2-0 against Juventus FC last night. The Italian side face either Djurgårdens IF or FBK Kaunas in the third qualifying round. Juve's Serie A rivals FC Internazionale also enter at the same stage against FC Basel 1893, and they warmed up with a 1-0 victory at England's Bolton Wanderers FC yesterday.