Champions League Wednesday Preview: Will Ole Ease Growing Pressure?


Champions League Wednesday preview: What is next for Ole?

Champions League Wednesday Preview
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will look to defy his critics with victory over Atalanta in the Champions League

Manchester United and Chelsea are back in Champions League action tonight as they bid to bolster their hopes of reaching the knockout phase.

The Red Devils will hope to put their poor domestic form behind them when they face Group F leaders Atalanta, while the Blues must bounce back from their defeat to Juventus when they host Malmo.

Elsewhere, 12 other teams do battle across Europe — including Barcelona, who go in search of their first Champions League points of the season.

Read on as we preview each and every game ahead of what looks set to be another thrilling evening of action.

Group E

Barcelona vs Dynamo Kyiv (5.45pm, BT Sport 1)

After successive 3-0 defeats in a disastrous start to their Champions League campaign, Barca must stop the rot against Ukranian champions Dynamo Kyiv.

In normal circumstances, a home win would be almost a given with the Catalan giants victorious in the pair’s last four meetings.

But Ronald Koeman’s men have lost their last three home matches — their worst home losing run in the competition.

The hosts will hope the return of Ansu Fati to European football can give them a much-needed boost.

Fati, 18, has been directly involved in three goals in his two Champions League starts at the Camp Nou.

Champions League Wednesday Preview
Ronald Koeman will be desperate for Barcelona to get up and running in the Champions League

Benfica vs Bayern Munich (8pm, BT Sport ESPN)

Bayern Munich can all but secure qualification with a victory — but they must overcome a Benfica side on a high.

The unbeaten Portuguese outfit know they have given themselves a great chance of progressing from the group stage.

But they have failed to defeat Bayern in any of their 10 European competition meetings prior to tonight.

The Bavarians are also on a phenomenal unbeaten run of 19 games away from home in the Champions League, with 15 wins and four draws.

They have scored 54 goals during that spell, with 19 of them netted by star striker Robert Lewandowski.

But the Eagles are enjoying a decent run of their own, having kept a clean sheet in their last three games in the competition.

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Benfica striker Darwin Nunez will look to become only the second player in the club’s history to score three goals in his first three games in the competition.

Champions League Wednesday Preview
Robert Lewandowski has played a key role in Bayern Munich’s phenomenal recent away record in Europe

Group F

Manchester United vs Atalanta (8pm, BT Sport 2)

The first-ever meeting between these two sides could have a huge bearing on a wide-open Group F with just three points separating all four teams.

Leaders Atalanta can tighten their grip at the top with what would be their fourth victory in seven games over English sides.

The Red Devils have a strong home record against Italian sides after winning six of their last seven meetings, though their most recent outing against Serie A opposition was a 1-0 defeat to Juventus in October 2018.

An inconsistent run has piled the pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with United losing 58% of their Champions League games under the Norwegian.

Cristiano Ronaldo, who faces an Italian side in the competition for the first time since 2018, is bidding to improve on his record of 18 goals in 23 Champions League appearances against Serie A teams.

Young Boys vs Villarreal (8pm, BT Sport Extra 4)

Both Young Boys and Villarreal can end the evening in the top two with a victory.

The Swiss outfit are unbeaten in their last three home games in the Champions League, with their last win being a dramatic 2-1 success over United on Matchday 1.

While Villarreal have thrived in the Europa League in recent seasons, they have lost eight of their last nine Champions League games and are without a win in the competition since March 2009.

The Yellow Submarine will bank on another bright game from winger Arnaut Danjuma, who has been directly involved in two goals in two Champions League games.

But David Wagner’s men have a winger of their own to keep tabs on.

Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu has attempted (22) and completed (12) more take-ons than any other player in the competition this season.

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Champions League Wednesday Preview
Arnaut Danjuma will be key as Villarreal search for their first Champions League win this season

Group G

FC Salzburg vs Wolfsburg (5.45pm, BT Sport EPSN)

FC Salzburg go into their game against Wolfsburg as the only Group G side with a win so far.

That victory over French champions Lille last time out sets them up nicely for their first-ever meeting with Die Wolfe, who drew both their opening two Champions League games.

They have scored only once so far but this fixture could be destined to see goals with Salzburg’s last four games against German opponents producing 21 (six for and 15 against).

Manager Matthias Jaissle is putting his faith in youth with the average age of Salzburg’s starting XI just 22 years and 312 days — the youngest of any team in the competition.

One of their brightest starlets is striker Karim Adeyemi, who has won four penalties for Salzburg in the Champions League already this season.

No player has ever won more than that in a single season and he also netted twice last time out.

Lille vs Sevilla (8pm, BT Sport Extra 3)

Both Lille and Sevilla will be disappointed with their points return so far in Group G and will be eager to kickstart their campaigns this evening.

The omens are not great for the French side, who have won only two of their last 13 games against Spanish opponents and not scored more than one in any of them.

Julen Lopetegui’s men have the oldest starting XI in the competition this season, averaging 29 years and 200 days.

But they will want that experience to pay off as they look to continue an unbeaten run of eight games in the Champions League (won five and drawn three).

Burak Yilmaz’s strike against Salzburg, Lille’s only goal so far, made him the second-oldest goalscorer this season at 36 years and 76 days.

Champions League Wednesday Preview
Julen Lopetegui will attempt to secure Sevilla’s first win of their Champions League campaign

Group H

Chelsea vs Malmo (8pm, BT Sport 3)

Holders Chelsea will hope to ignite a somewhat underwhelming defence of the trophy so far against minnows Malmo.

Their record at Stamford Bridge in the Champions League is exceptional, having lost only two of their 48 home games, while manager Thomas Tuchel has lost only one of his 13 home games as a manager in the competition.

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It will be the German’s 10th game in charge of Chelsea in the tournament, with six clean sheets recorded in his previous nine.

That will not be welcome news to the Swedish outfit, who have lost their last five matches in the Champions League by an aggregate score of 24-0.

What is more, Blues striker Romelu Lukaku has scored 14 goals in 18 appearances in European competition since the start of 2019-20.

In that period, only Erling Haaland (18) and Lewandowski (19) have scored more non-penalty goals than the Belgian’s 12.

Champions League Wednesday Preview
Romelu Lukaku will look to continue a fine record in Europe when Chelsea host Malmo

Zenit St Petersburg vs Juventus (8pm, BT Sport Extra 2)

After beating fellow Group H big-hitters Chelsea in their last game, Juventus can take a giant step towards the knockout phase with a win.

Their only previous meetings with Zenit St Petersburg came in the 2008-09 group stage — a 1-0 win for Juve in Turin and a goalless draw in Russia.

The Old Lady are looking to win their first three Champions League games for the first time since 2018-19, during Max Allegri’s first spell in charge.

Federico Chiesa is looking to become the first Juve player to score in four consecutive games since Mario Mandzukic in October 2017.

Meanwhile, following victory over Malmo last time out, Zenit are bidding to record consecutive victories in the Champions League for the first since November 2015, when they won five in a row under Andre Villas-Boas.