Champions League preview: what to look out for tonight

Romelu Lukaku, Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah are set to return to the fray.

Liverpool FC via Getty Images

Reigning European champions Bayern will look to hog the spotlight as the first round of 2020/21 UEFA Champions League group stage fixtures concludes.

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Wednesday fixtures (click for live build-up)
Group A: Salzburg vs Lokomotiv Moskva (18:55CET)
Group A: Bayern vs Atlético (21:00CET)
Group B: Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (18:55CET)
Group B: Inter Milan vs Mönchengladbach (21:00CET)
Group C: Olympiacos vs Marseille (21.00CET)
Group C: Man. City vs Porto (21:00CET)
Group D: Ajax vs Liverpool (21:00CET)
Group D: Midtjylland vs Atalanta (21:00CET)

Lewandowski vs Suárez: who will shine brightest?

Lewandowski: Watch all of his 2019/20 goals
Lewandowski: Watch all of his 2019/20 goals

With 15 goals over the course of Bayern’s stunning campaign – 11 games, 11 wins – Robert Lewandowski was the star of last season’s UEFA Champions League, and a clear winner in the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year vote. He will seek to maintain that striking form in this season’s group stage, but an opener against miserly Atlético means he could be upstaged by Los Colchoneros’ new arrival Luis Suárez.

Will Romelu Lukaku keep on scoring?

Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku was the UEFA Europa League Player of the Season for 2019/20 after spearheading Inter's charge to the final, and returns to the UEFA Champions League on an inspiring run of form; in his last six games for club and country, he has scored seven times. Ex-Sweden forward Martin Dahlin knows his old side, Mönchengladbach, could be in for a torrid night, saying of the 27-year-old: "He is a world class striker, who is really hard to stop.”

Ajax vs Liverpool: battle of the giants

Watch Salah in action for Liverpool
Watch Salah in action for Liverpool

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this matchday 1 fixture is that it is only Ajax and Liverpool’s third European encounter. Their first two tussles came in the 1966/67 European Cup second round; Johan Cruyff scored three across two legs as Ajax won 5-1 in Amsterdam then drew 2-2 at Anfield. Having netted in four of his side’s last seven European away games, might Mohamed Salah be the star this time around?

An Olympian struggle for Valbuena

“Marseille and me, we’re linked for life,” tweeted Mathieu Valbuena after his current club, Olympiacos, drew OM in the group stage. The midfielder spent eight seasons at Marseille before leaving for Dinamo Moskva in 2015, so fans were not exactly delighted when he returned to France to join Marseille's rivals Lyon two years later. Expect that relationship to remain complicated as the 36-year-old lines up on Wednesday.

Underdogs aim to prove themselves great Danes

Highlights: Midtjylland 4-1 Slavia Praha
Highlights: Midtjylland 4-1 Slavia Praha

Four teams make group stage debuts on matchday 1: Başakşehir, Krasnodar and Rennes kick off on Tuesday, while Midtjylland meet Atalanta in their opener on Wednesday. Denmark’s champions have had the longest journey; they made it through two qualifying rounds before beating Slavia Praha in the play-offs, coach Brian Priske saying: “Getting to the group stage is the ultimate.” Naturally, we agree. Enjoy it!

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