The Champions League is back and we’re only halfway through this week’s serving. Here are the questions burning a hole in our brains ahead of Wednesday’s fixtures, Reelradio.com.ng reports.
Will Manchester United’s woes on the road go on?
Since Erik ten Hag took over at the start of last season, Manchester United fans have not enjoyed away games.
That’s a lot of games where they’ve conceded three or more on their travels. Things have taken a turn for the worse this season, with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat at home against Brighton making it three defeats from five and their worst start to a league campaign since 1989.
It is not ideal timing for a trip to Munich to visit one-time target Harry Kane as he plays his first Champions League match for Bayern.
Or is it? Expectations are low and Ten Hag (who recorded two draws against Bayern in Europe with Ajax) could receive a real shot in the arm with a positive performance … but he could also find himself under immense pressure with another big defeat.
Can Union Berlin send shockwaves around Europe?
If Bayern versus Manchester United is a clash of true European heavyweights with incredible pedigree, Union Berlin’s trip to Real Madrid could not be more David meeting Goliath.
The club from the German capital have repeatedly defied the odds in recent seasons, climbing into the Bundesliga for the first time before continuing their rise to reach the Europa Conference League, the Europa League, and now Europe’s absolute elite. And they’ve been rewarded with a fairytale trip to the Bernabéu.
As 14-time European Cup/Champions League winners, Real Madrid come to life in this competition and never expect anything other than a win. But that doesn’t mean they are immune to upsets and Moldovan Super Liga club Sheriff Tiraspol won at the Bernabéu just two years ago.
Union relish making life uncomfortable for the biggest of opponents and it doesn’t get any bigger than this.
What does Jude Bellingham have up his sleeve?
If you think Jude Bellingham’s start to the season was already impressive, just wait until you see him in Europe.
As mentioned above, nothing gets Real Madrid going like a night on the big European stage and Bellingham looks like a perfect fit in that regard: his record of 12 goals in 92 Bundesliga games for Borussia Dortmund was relatively modest and he boasted a far superior return of six goals in 23 Champions League outings during his time in Germany.
The England midfielder has been nothing short of sensational so far this season, scoring five in five in LaLiga so far and another on international duty too. And his Dortmund career suggests it is these nights that really get the blood pumping.
A player who relishes the big Champions League nights becoming Real Madrid’s newest icon? It truly is a match made in heaven and Union will have to somehow keep him quiet to have any hope of a shock result.
How ready are Arteta’s Arsenal?
A long wait comes to an end on Wednesday as N5 plays host to a Champions League game once more.
Mikel Arteta and his players could hardly have wished for a much more favourable group either, clearly entering as big favourites ahead of PSV Eindhoven, Sevilla and Lens.
Back at Europe’s top table, it’s a friendly reintroduction but the Gunners will still have to handle the excitement and expectation of playing in this competition: the likes of Bukayo Saka, Declan Rice, William Saliba and Ben White are just some of the players in line for a Champions League debut.
How they handle that will be crucial and Arteta (like his players) cannot afford to have even half an eye on Sunday’s north London derby. Home form will be crucial in Europe and lay the foundations for Arsenal to top the group.
Arsenal have not covered themselves in glory in the Europa League under Arteta’s guidance and it is time to answer any lingering doubts that they will be ready when that famous music blares out on Wednesday.
Does wide open Group D contain a dark horse?
While the other groups that kick off on Wednesday have clear favourites to qualify — Bayern Munich/Manchester United, Arsenal/Sevilla, Real Madrid/Napoli — Group D looks like it will be a lot of fun.
Inter are the big boys there, finalists last season and currently runaway Serie A leaders, but even their superb start to the season has been something of a surprise given they lost André Onana, Milan Škriniar, Romelu Lukaku and Edin Džeko over the course of the summer.
The rest looks like a wide open pack and the chance for someone to bring an element of surprise to the competition.
Benfica are always a good bet for some competitive matches in this competition, Real Sociedad are not to be underestimated despite a slow start to the LaLiga season (and have a gem in Take Kubo) and FC Salzburg are always one of those sides who could put a cat amongst the pigeons.
If Inter don’t start well, all four sides in this group will consider both places in the knockout rounds up for grabs.