MATCHDAY: Barcelona plays for Champions League survival
A look at what’s happening in European soccer on Wednesday:
After consecutive losses to open its Champions League campaign, Barcelona needs to find a way to beat Dynamo Kyiv at home to have a realistic chance of advancing to the knockout stage. It is last in the group, a point behind third-place Dynamo. The Catalan club has made it past the group stage every season since an early elimination in 2000-01. While Barcelona has struggled, Bayern Munich has cruised and now visits second-place Benfica. Neither team has conceded a goal in this season’s group stage but they had contrasting weekends. Bayern comes into the game off a statement 5-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday, while Benfica needed extra time to beat second-division Trofense the day before.
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under pressure again after the team’s run of two victories in its last seven games, including the win over Villarreal in the Champions League that came courtesy of a 95th-minute goal by Cristiano Ronaldo. That left United on three points alongside Young Boys and one behind Atalanta, which visits the English team for the first match of their double-header. Solskjaer acknowledged after Saturday’s 4-2 loss at Leicester that changes are needed in the team and he could hand a first start of the season to fit-again forward Marcus Rashford. Atalanta have five key players out of action in captain Rafael Tolói, Matteo Pessina, Berat Djimsiti, Robin Gosens and Hans Hateboer. Villarreal visits Young Boys coming off its first Spanish league loss of the season. The Spanish club is last in the group with one point from two matches.
Penalties have helped make Salzburg the unexpected group leader as the Austrian club hosts Germany’s Wolfsburg. Salzburg had five spot-kicks awarded in its opening two games and converted three, but is yet to score from open play as it bids to advance from the group stage for the first time. Wolfsburg is without a win in six competitive games and is missing Wout Weghorst. The striker tested positive for the coronavirus after reporting symptoms on Sunday. With Seville riding high in the Spanish league, Lille’s defense was likely to be tested even without the injury to central defender Sven Botman, who hurt his groin on recent international duty with the Dutch under-21 team. He was a key player in Lille’s title win last season, forming an excellent partnership with veteran Jose Fonte, but could be out for several weeks. Lille is last in Group G with one point and one goal, so coach Jocelyn Gourvennec needs Timothy Weah and Jonathan David to give veteran striker Burak Yilmaz more support up front in Europe.
Chelsea heads into a home game against Malmo looking to get back on track after a loss to Juventus in the second round of games and for star striker Romelu Lukaku to find his scoring form. Lukaku has not scored in his last six games for Chelsea in all competitions, after netting four goals in the first four matches of his second spell at the London club. Antonio Rudiger is available after injury to play against the current Swedish league leader. After a rocky start to the season, Juventus is back in form and unbeaten in its previous seven matches. Moreover, it has won both its games in the Champions League, scoring four goals and conceding none. Defender Matthijs de Ligt missed Sunday’s win against Roma in Serie A but will be back against Zenit St. Petersburg. Álvaro Morata returned against Roma but fellow striker Paulo Dybala is still out injured.
Coming off a morale-boosting win over Manchester United in the Premier League, Leicester needs another victory at Spartak Moscow in the Europa League after having opened the group stage with just one point from two games.
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