Matchday three of the UEFA Champions League brings us plenty to look forward to, as Tottenham make the daunting trip to Real Madrid in Group H and Manchester City lock horns with Napoli in Group F.
Real Madrid v Tottenham Hotspur – 5:45am (AEDT), Wednesday, October 18 @ Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid
The main talking point is whether Welsh international and Madrid superstar Gareth Bale will feature against his old club for the first time. Bale is battling a calf injury from Real’s last UCL fixture against Dortmund.
It will no doubt be a boost for Tottenham if they can avoid the wrath of the superstar they helped create. If Bale is missing, this presents a great opportunity for Lucas Vazquez to stay in the side and show he is capable of being a valuable contributor when starting.
Madrid appear set for a change with Karim Benzema returning from injury – his link-up work with Cristiano Ronaldo has been crucial to the Portuguese megastar finding the back of the net so often. Despite his golden touch of late, Isco may have to feature from the bench.
Harry Kane has been in insane goalscoring touch for Spurs and England, and his battle with Ronaldo is worth the price of admission on its own.
Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo have scored nine #UCL goals between them this season …
Who will win Tuesday’s duel? pic.twitter.com/jX3EYhxZ51
— Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) October 15, 2017
Manchester City v Napoli – 5:45am (AEDT), Wednesday October 18 @ City of Manchester Stadium, Manchester
This game is set to be a ripper, with both teams dominating domestically in their respective leagues. City currently lead the Premier League by two points, with a whopping goal differential of +25. Meanwhile, Napoli are yet to draw or lose a match in the Italian Serie A this season – leading by five points with a goal differential of +21.
Key Manchester City midfielder and Belgium maestro Kevin De Bruyne laid on four assists against Stoke City on the weekend and will no doubt be the player Napoli focus on shutting down. De Bruyne will be going up against his international teammate in Dries Mertens, who has also been in sparkling form.
The embarrassment of riches for City continues, with Sergio Aguero remarkably fit to play again after recovering from broken ribs. Expect Aguero to make an appearance at some stage as a shootout looms.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) October 15, 2017
Benfica v Manchester United – 5:45am (AEDT), Thursday October 19 @ Estadio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica, Lisbon
Manchester United face a tricky trip away to Benfica in Group A as the Red Devils look to put themselves in pole position at the top of the group. Despite United’s injury problems, they managed to escape against Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League on the weekend with a 0-0 draw.
Manager Jose Mourinho knows his limitations with some big names currently sidelined, so this is the perfect time for Benfica to play against United – the Portuguese outfit yet to register a point in the group. This game could also see former Benfica centre-back Victor Lindelof play against his former side.
Rising England and United striker Marcus Rashford (pictured top) looks set to start on the left-wing after Anthony Martial started on the weekend, continuing Mourinho’s clever rotation of the two young stars.
— Metro Sport (@Metro_Sport) October 5, 2017
Chelsea v Roma – 5:45am (AEDT), Thursday October 19 @ Stamford Bridge, London
After a magnificent victory on the last matchday away to Atletico Madrid, Chelsea have returned from the international break with a crash – losing to previously winless and goal-less bottom-placed Crystal Palace 2-1 on the weekend.
Italian opposition Roma are going through an injury crisis of their own at the moment but have enough depth in key positions to cover.
Tall striker Edin Dzeko is no stranger to playing against Chelsea and is set to be a handful in the box, with his strength and aerial presence sure to physically test out undersized Blues centre-back Cesar Azpilicueta.
— Chelsea Extra 🏆 (@CFCExtra) October 15, 2017