Matchday one briefing: what you need to know

It's back! The 2019/20 group stage kicks off this week with several tasty fixtures.

Dejan Lovren and Mohamed Salah gear up for the start of a new term at Liverpool
Dejan Lovren and Mohamed Salah gear up for the start of a new term at Liverpool ©Getty Images

The first 16 games of the new UEFA Champions League campaign take place on Tuesday and Wednesday; some key points for the curious.

What are the big games this week?

Tuesday: Napoli v Liverpool

In ten words: Holders visit a side they (only just) eliminated last season

Highlights: Liverpool 1-0 Napoli
Highlights: Liverpool 1-0 Napoli
  • Liverpool are still glowing after June's UEFA Champions League final win, but will be reminded just how fragile their campaign was at one point as they return to Naples. Liverpool lost 1-0 in Naples on matchday two but scraped through to the last 16 with a 1-0 win at Anfield on matchday six, an added-time Alisson Becker save from Arkadiusz Milik providing bonus drama at the death.

Tuesday: Dortmund v Barcelona

In ten words: Tough opener for Spanish champions; will Suárez and Messi play?

  • Dortmund and Barcelona are UEFA Champions League regulars, but this is their first meeting in the competition; their only past encounters came in the 1997 UEFA Super Cup. Injuries to Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez have contributed to a wobbly start to the season for Barcelona; can new arrival Antoine Griezmann put a spring in their Group F step?

Wednesday: Paris v Real Madrid

In ten words: Big-hitting French titleholders size up Europe's most successful club

Highlights: Paris 1-2 Real Madrid
Highlights: Paris 1-2 Real Madrid
  • Real Madrid beat Paris on the way to winning the UEFA Champions League in 2015/16 and 2017/18. Two years on, does another meeting with the French side augur well for Zinédine Zidane's side? Paris have a decent record against the Spanish giants, though, and in Keylor Navas they possess a member of the Madrid side that won the title three years on the trot. Will the goalkeeper come back to haunt them?

Wednesday: Atlético v Juventus

In ten words: Ronaldo faces a side he has always loved scoring against

  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s hat-trick overturned a 2-0 first-leg lead for Atlético when these sides met in last season's round of 16, the former Real Madrid man once more enjoying facing up to his old side's city rivals. Diego Simeone's men know from bitter experience that they can not afford to take their eyes off Ronaldo: the Portuguese has scored 22 in 31 games against Atlético.

What else to look out for

Tuesday: Ajax v LOSC

Highlights: Ajax 2-0 APOEL
Highlights: Ajax 2-0 APOEL

Last season, Ajax became the first side in the history of the European Cup to make it to the semi-finals after having come through three qualifying rounds. Can they match that after losing Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt to bigger teams?

Wednesday: Olympiacos v Tottenham

Mauricio Pochettino's Spurs reached last season's final but made a meal of getting through the group stage, progressing despite taking just one point from their first three games. Will a trip to Piraeus catch them cold this time?

Wednesday: Dinamo Zagreb v Atalanta

Atalanta are the only side making their UEFA Champions League group stage debut this season, following a third-placed finish in Serie A which resulted in their coach being made an honorary citizen of the club's home city. How will they get on?

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