Champions League Preview
Liverpool and Chelsea reconvene UEFA Champions League exertions hoping to build on impressive wins in their opening salvo of matches.
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Rafa Benitez's European specialists were impressive two weeks ago as an archetypal brace from Steven Gerrard stole the points in Marseille, while Luiz Felipe Scolari's Chelsea were at their bullying best in putting an admittedly feeble Bordeaux to the sword 4-0.
Away day success for Liverpool on their sojourn to France means a favourable result at Anfield against PSV Eindhoven would go a long way to securing progression to the knockout stages.
Benitez has warned against complacency ahead of what will be his 250th game in charge of Liverpool, but given PSV lost 3-0 at home to Group D rivals Atletico Madrid and were booed off at the weekend, nothing other than a three-point haul will be expected on Merseyside.
Atletico were imperious in sauntering to a win in Holland and back in the Spanish capital will be expected to have too much for a Marseille side that are not the best of travellers.
For Chelsea it is a trip into the unknown as they have fun with fake plastic fangs before taking on Transylvania-based Romanian minnows CFR Cluj.
This season's Champions League has a number of intriguing names that have had even football's most knowledgeable taking a sneaky look at Wikipedia, but it is fair to say Cluj had been labelled cannon fodder prior to their trip to Rome two weeks ago.
In the Eternal City two goals from Emmanuel Culio secured Cluj coupon-buster status though, and the talented hit-man has warned Chelsea's kit-man to pack a box of crosses for the trip to Transylvania.
"It is true we want to suck the life out of the big clubs," he forewarned. "If we beat Chelsea we will all be as famous as Dracula."
Under-pressure Roma boss Luciano Spalletti conceded the Giallorossi had been embarrassed by Cluj's smash-and-grab job in the Italian capital but is confident his players will make amends in Bordeaux.
Jose Mourinho is already making a stir in Serie A courtesy of tossing a couple of trademark barbed verbal grenades, but it is in Europe that he is desperate to make an impression with an Inter Milan side that reigns supreme in Italy but flatters to deceive in the continent's finest club competition.
A win over Panathinaikos of Greece on Matchday One sets up the Nerazurri nicely for the visit of Werder Bremen, who kicked off their campaign by playing out a stalemate with Anorthosis Famagusta.
Anorthosis made Champions League history in becoming the first ever Cypriot team to appear in the competition's group stages, when they eked out a highly creditable draw at Werder, and will be aiming to go one better when they play host to Panathinaikos.
In Group C, two sides that took maximum spoils from their first games meet in the Ukraine as Shakhtar Donetsk play Barcelona.
Pep Guardiola has got his Barca side playing some eye-catching football in recent weeks, after a slow start to the campaign, but a trip to Donetsk is the proverbial banana skin for Europe's big-hitters.
Shakhtar are traditionally strong at home and poor travellers but the manner in which they disposed of Basel, at the St Jakob-Park Stadium last time out, suggests they could have enough to progress to the knockout stages this term.
In the group's battle of the basement dwellers, Sporting Lisbon will be desperate to get points on the board as Basel are the visitors, having opened up their account with a 3-1 defeat in Barcelona.