Night of Intrigues as UEFA Champions League Returns

Champions-league-3By: Oriade Ayomide

The much anticipated return of European football nights are here and this time with mouth watering historic fixtures. Tonight, a new chapter will be opened in the UEFA Champions league historyas European club football giant Barcelona pays a visit to the Ethihad Stadium to play the money bags of Manchester in the first ever competitive match between the two clubs. The only previous meeting between the sides was a friendly match in August 2009 when City defeated Barcelona 1-0.

After the disappointment of previous European campaigns, City finally made it past the group stage this season and they will be desperate to replicate their irrepressible domestic form on the continental stage.  Barca have plenty of European pedigree, having won this competition three times in the last eight seasons, but since the departure of Pep Guardiola their aura of invincibility has slipped.

Tonight’s champions league second round match is the most anticipated fixture of the round as it promises to be a  titanic confrontation between two supreme attacking forces. Since the departure ofRoberto Mancini in the summer, his successor, Manuel Pelegrini has tuned Manchester city to a goal scoring machine especially at home where they currently average 3.5 goals per match this season. Barcelona are also a rootless team on the road with an average of 2.25 goals per match.

Pelegrini has promised an all attacking style contrary to Manchester United’s approach in their meetings with Barcelona. Manchester city might be a rookie on this stage but majority of their players have experience of tension soaked European football nights. On certainty tonight is that there will be goals but the questions is which side will score the most?

In the other historic match of the night, the money bags of Paris, (PSG) will be the guest of Bayer Leverkusen in Germany. The two sides have never met in a competitive match as well. The German side have had a dip in form as of late in the league, losing four of their last six games and seemingly squandering any chance of claiming the title.

PSG are going well in Ligue 1, they are undefeated in their last 9 league games, and are currently top of the league. They have striker ZlatanIbrahimovic in good form with the Swede netting his 19th goal of the campaign in the 3-0 win over Valenciennes at the weekend. Bayer on the other hand lost 2-1 to Schalke on Saturday and are 16 points behind Bayern Munich on the Bundesliga table. Bayer’s main man, Stefan Kiebling has scored 10 times in the Bundesliga this year. ZlatanIbrahimovic has scored 8 times in the Champions League alone this season. PSG are clear favourites on paper, but whoever underrates a German side does so at his own peril.