FC Barcelona begin the defence of their UEFA Champions League title tonight with a visit to the Stadio Olimpico to take on AS Roma.
For Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, the Group E encounter marks a return to the club he managed in 2011/12. This match comes 102 days since Barcelona beat Juventus to win their fifth European Cup at the Olympiastadion in Berlin and could post to be a difficult opener as Barcelona have won just one of their last six matches in Italy – 3-2 at AC Milan in the 2011/12 group stage. Their overall record from 20 away matches against Serie A sides is W6 D8 L6.
Chelsea FC have now won on their last three UEFA Champions League matchday one fixtures and will be looking to get three points on the board straight away against Maccabi Tel-Aviv FC at the Bridge tonight. Maccabi coach Slaviša Jokanović faces one of his former clubs, as does Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim, but the teams have never met on a competitive stage before. The London side are in their 14th group stage campaign and traditionally start well: eight wins and three draws on matchday one before 2013, when they lost at home to FC Basel 1893.
Bayer 04 Leverkusen and FC BATE Borisov meet for the first time in their opening UEFA Champions League Group E fixture at the BayArena. Fourth in the Bundesliga last term, Leverkusen booked their place in the group stage thanks to a 3-1 aggregate play-off win over SS Lazio. BATE came through three qualifying rounds to reach the group stage, overcoming the challenge of Dundalk FC (2-1 aggregate), Videoton FC (2-1 agg) and FK Partizan (2-2 agg, away goals). Aleksandr Yermakovich’s side won all three home games in those ties but are still seeking an away victory.
Olympiacos FC have recent history in facing German teams in the UEFA Champions League group stage but the visit of FC Bayern München represents a difficult start for them. The teams met in the 1980/81 European Cup first round when the Bundesliga giants won both legs (4-2 away, 3-0 home). Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scored in both games.
GNK Dinamo Zagreb return to the UEFA Champions League group stage after an absence of two seasons with a home game against Arsenal FC. This is the Gunners’ 18th successive group stage campaign. Last term they reached the round of 16 for the 15th time in a row but again departed at that stage – as in the previous four campaigns.
Tonights other games see Dynamo Kiev take on Porto, Gent face Leon and Valencia host Zenit