MATCHDAY: Liverpool plays Atletico, PSG takes on Leipzig
A look at what’s happening in the Champions League on Wednesday:
Manchester City, last season’s runner-up, can take a big step toward the last 16 by claiming a second successive victory over Brugge. Pep Guardiola’s squad won 5-1 in Belgium two weeks ago and a repeat at the Etihad Stadium would put City in a strong position to qualify. But City goes into the encounter after a couple of difficult results. City’s four-year reign as League Cup holders was ended by West Ham last week and the Premier League champions also had a surprise loss to Crystal Palace on Saturday. Paris Saint-Germain heads into the game against Leipzig in first place, one point ahead of City, but without the injured Lionel Messi. Leipzig lost all of its opening three games as it struggles to rebuild under American coach Jesse Marsch after losing key players in the summer transfer window.
Liverpool midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara are back in contention for the Champions League visit of Atlético Madrid after recovering from injuries. Liverpool has won all three games so far in the group. Atlético’s defense improved with a clean sheet in a 3-0 win against Real Betis in the Spanish league after conceding seven goals in its previous three matches, including in the 3-2 loss to Liverpool at home. In attack, coach Diego Simeone again may resort to the trio of Luis Suárez, Antoine Griezmann and João Félix. Anything but a win for AC Milan at home to Porto would all but certainly bring its return to the Champions League to a swift end. Milan is playing in the competition for the first time since the 2013-14 season and has lost all three of its games. Milan needs to replicate its league form. It is unbeaten in Serie A and has won 10 of its opening 11 matches. It will be boosted by the return to form of Zlatan Ibrahimović. The 40-year-old scored one goal and also drew a penalty that led to Milan’s second goal in Sunday’s 2-1 win at Roma. He has made only one substitute appearance for Milan in Europe this season.
Ajax is flying high at the top of the group after beating Borussia Dortmund 4-0 last time out and will qualify with another win in the return fixture. That would put the Dutch club into the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time since its run to the semifinals in 2018-19. Dortmund is without the injured Erling Haaland but has won all three of its games since the loss to Ajax. A draw is enough for Ajax to qualify if Sporting Lisbon doesn’t beat Besiktas. Sporting enters its home match against last-place Besiktas coming off six straight victories in all competitions, including 4-1 at Besiktas in Turkey.
Real Madrid can become the first club to score 1,000 goals in European Cup-Champions League games when it hosts Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Madrid routed Shakhtar 5-0 in Ukraine in the last round. The teams are in the same group for the second straight time. Shakhtar won both games last season. Madrid is tied with Sheriff Tiraspol at the top of the group. Shakhtar is in last place. Inter Milan visits Sheriff in the other match and would move above its opponent with a win. The Italian team hadn’t scored a goal in the competition this season before putting three past Sheriff in a 3-1 victory at San Siro.
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