(L-R) Real Madrid’s forward from Wales Gareth Bale, Real Madrid’s midfielder from Croatia Luka Modric, Real Madrid’s defender from Spain Dani Carvajal, Real Madrid’s defender from France Raphael Varane, Real Madrid’s goalkeeper from Costa Rica Keylor Navas, Real Madrid’s midfielder from Brazil Casemiro, Real Madrid’s midfielder from Germany Toni Kroos, Real Madrid’s midfielder from Spain Isco, Real Madrid’s defender from Spain Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid’s defender from Brazil Marcelo and Real Madrid’s forward from Portugal Cristiano Ronaldo line up before the Spanish league football match Real Madrid CF against Real Betis at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on September 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS
AFP Sport looks ahead to Tuesday’s Champions League action as holders Real Madrid take on Tottenham Hotspur and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City host Italian high-flyers Napoli (all kick-offs 1845 GMT):
At Maribor, Slovenia
Maribor (SLO) v Liverpool (ENG)
Liverpool head to Slovenia still looking for their first Champions League group-stage victory away from home since a 1-0 win at Debrecen in November 2009. Jurgen Klopp’s men are winless in three games in all competitions and have drawn their first two Group E encounters against Sevilla and Spartak Moscow. The five-time European champions will have to make do without forward Sadio Mane, who is still ruled out with the muscle problem that forced him to miss Saturday’s drab 0-0 draw with Manchester United. Maribor drew their opening match with Spartak and have a solid European record at home against English teams. They held Chelsea in the 2014-15 Champions League group stage and Tottenham Hotspur in the 2012-13 Europa League, before beating Wigan Athletic the following season.
Spartak Moscow (RUS) v Sevilla (ESP)
Sevilla top the early group standings after a comfortable victory over Maribor last time out and a 2-2 opening draw at Anfield. Russian champions Spartak held off a Liverpool onslaught to grab their second point in their first Champions League group-stage campaign since 2012. The capital club have turned around a poor start to the season with a nine-match unbeaten streak in all competitions. Sevilla have kicked off the campaign strongly and sit fourth in La Liga despite a 1-0 loss at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. The record five-time Europa League winners are the favourites to top Group E, as they look to improve on last term’s Champions League showing when they suffered a shock last-16 defeat by Leicester City. It will be the first meeting of the two sides.
At Manchester, England
Manchester City (ENG) v Napoli (ITA)
Pep Guardiola’s Premier League pace-setters lock horns with Serie A front-runners Napoli as Manchester City attempt to make it three wins from three in the section. The Italians suffered an opening setback to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine, but Maurizio Sarri’s side have swept aside all-comers in Italy — their 1-0 win at Roma on Saturday stretched their winning run in the league to eight matches. In England, City pulled two points clear of Manchester United at the top following a 7-2 demolition of Stoke City achieved without Sergio Aguero, who was left on the bench after recovering from a broken rib suffered in a car crash in Amsterdam last month. City became the first English top-flight team to score 29 goals in their first eight league games of the season since Everton in 1894. Napoli have never won in England in five previous trips.
At Rotterdam, Netherlands
Feyenoord (NED) v Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Dutch champions Feyenoord must regroup quickly to avoid a premature end to their European adventure following defeats by Manchester City and Napoli. Their league form has also tailed off dramatically after kicking off the season with four straight wins — Saturday’s 0-0 draw at home to Zwolle marked the third time in four outings they had failed to score. Shakhtar were unbeaten in 27 away games before losing to City three weeks ago, while their track record against Dutch opposition is awful with four defeats in as many matches. Brazilian-born Marlos, scorer of six goals this term for the Ukrainian league leaders, earned his first Ukraine cap in a 2-0 World Cup qualifying win over Kosovo on October 6.
RB Leipzig (GER) v Porto (POR)
A tough third outing for debutants RB Leipzig who are seeking their first win in the competition. Their Portuguese rivals won the title in 2004 and come calling on the back of an impressive 3-0 win over last season’s semi-finalists Monaco that has left them second in the group. The match reunites Leipzig striker Timo Werner, who scored twice in Germany’s 3-1 defeat of Cameroon in July’s Confederations Cup, with his Porto opposite number Vincent Aboubakar, who got the African champions’ goal that day and who last week signed a new deal tying him to Porto until 2021. Leipzig, last season’s runners-up on their Bundesliga debut, beat Borussia Dortmund at the weekend, with Porto held to a goalless stalemate by Sporting Lisbon in their domestic Liga.
Monaco (FRA) v Besiktas (TUR)
Besiktas are at Monaco hunting a third straight win after the Turkish champions dished out defeats to Porto and Leipzig. That’s left them three points clear at the top of a table footed by French champions Monaco. The Istanbul club have history against them as they have never beaten a Ligue 1 side on their previous four visits to France. Monaco line up for the two teams’ first ever meeting looking to kick-start their European campaign after a lopsided loss to Porto and opening stalemate with Leipzig. Key striker Radamel Falcao was rested for Friday’s 3-2 away loss to Lyon which left Leonardo Jardim’s side, Champions League finalists in 2004, six points adrift of leaders PSG. Monaco may never have crossed swords with Besiktas, but Falcao has, scoring against them when he was with Porto in the 2010-11 Europa League and for eventual winners Atletico Madrid in the same competition the following season.
Real Madrid (ESP) v Tottenham Hotspur (ENG)
European champions Real Madrid host Tottenham Hotspur with both teams looking to seize control of the group following back-to-back victories to start the competition. The odds are stacked in favour of the Spaniards who have won three of four meetings with Spurs and are yet to concede a goal against the Premier League side. Real are unbeaten at home in the group stage dating back to 2009, winning 21 of 23 matches since then at the Santiago Bernabeu. Luka Modric could face his former club, although Gareth Bale is unlikely to be fit for Real. Cristiano Ronaldo scored his first La Liga goal of the season with a late winner in Saturday’s 2-1 victory at Getafe. Tottenham striker Harry Kane has netted 15 goals in his last 11 outings for club and country, but Spurs will be without Dele Alli who serves the final game of a three-match ban.
APOEL Nicosia (CYP) v Borussia Dortmund (GER)
Victory in Cyprus is imperative for Borussia Dortmund if the Bundesliga leaders are to reignite their flickering European hopes. Peter Bosz’s men also lost their unbeaten domestic record over the weekend after being beaten 3-2 at home to RB Leipzig despite a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Their recent form on the continent is dreadful with Dortmund losing five of their last seven matches, while APOEL are looking for a first win in the Champions League proper since March 2012. Both Dortmund and APOEL are seeking their first points in the group after successive defeats in what is the first encounter between the two clubs.