Five things to look forward to as the Champions League returns

The Champions League returns this week, with matchday three of the 2021/22 competition taking place.

Last time out, we saw plenty of thrills and spills. Cristiano Ronaldo snatched a late winner for Manchester United against Villarreal at Old Trafford, Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol shocked Real Madrid at the Bernabeu and Barcelona suffered their second consecutive defeat of this season’s competition.

What will this week’s fixtures bring? Here’s five things to look forward to ahead of kick-off:

Can United bounce back?

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Champions League
Image Credit: Getty

Including their opening matchday defeat to Young Boys, Manchester United have won just two of their last seven games in all competitions.

Their latest fixture saw them lose 4-2 in the Premier League to Leicester City on Saturday – and the pressure is most certainly on ahead of Wednesday’s fixture against Atalanta.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s side will prove to be one of United‘s toughest tests so far this season. They currently sit sixth in Serie A, and come into this off the back of a superb 4-1 victory over Empoli on Sunday.

ADVERT

With United currently third in the group, this feels like a must-win fixture for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side.

Barca look to end Champions League woe

Ronald Koeman and Barca have thus far suffered a torrid start to their Champions League campaign.

An opening matchday home defeat to Bayern Munich perhaps wasn’t the most surprising result, given the two sides’ contrasting fortunes over recent months and years. But a 3-0 defeat at Benfica on matchday two means Barca now have little room for error if they want to progress to the knockouts.

ADVERT

On paper, Dynamo Kiev at home would be their least challenging test of the group. But the Ukrainian side were unlucky not to beat Benfica in their opening game, and are yet to taste defeat in 11 games of their domestic league this season.

Blockbuster fixtures in Group B

When the draw was first completed for this season’s Champions League, Group B looked to be the most star-studded group. Liverpool. AC Milan. Atletico Madrid. FC Porto.

What has transpired so far is that Liverpool are currently top of the group, having won both of their opening games. They take on Atletico Madrid, who are behind them on four points, at Anfield this week.

ADVERT

With Porto (one point) and AC Milan (zero points) in action against each other, the group could either be far closer by the end of Tuesday’s matches – or open up entirely.

Suarez and Liverpool reunite

Luis Suarez Champions League
Image Credit: Getty

Talking of Liverpool, the Reds will once again be reunited with former striker Luis Suarez when they take on Atletico at Anfield.

Suarez has, typically, been in excellent form this season. He has four goals in eight LaLiga appearances, and scored a last minute winning penalty in Atleti’s victory over AC Milan on matchday two.

ADVERT

Can he strike a serious dent into Liverpool’s ambitions of topping Group B?

Real looking to avoid third consecutive Shakhtar loss

After their shock defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol on matchday two, Real Madrid take on a side that they were defeated by twice last season – Shakhtar Donetsk.

Shakhtar are bottom of the group after a poor start to their European campaign, but know all about beating Real. Los Blancos also go into this one nursing a number of injuries, with Gareth Bale, Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao and Eden Hazard amongst those out. It promises to be an intriguing encounter in Kiev.

ADVERT

Featured Image Credit: Getty