The fight to unseat 2018 UEFA Champions League winners Real Madrid will begin on Tuesday across Europe. Last year’s finalist Liverpool begin their season with a tough clash against one of the most dominant French sides in history Paris Saint-Germain.
While Real Madrid domestic arch-rivals Barcelona will welcome PSV Eindhoven to the Camp Nou for the opening round of the highly anticipated UEFA Champions League campaign.
BARCELONA VS PSV EINDHOVEN
Barcelona manager Ernesto Valverde expects a tough encounter against a youthful PSV side. Despite his side being seen as favourites to challenge for the coveted trophy, Valvrede believes they still have to defend well against the youthful Dutch champions. Speaking to his club’s official website, the Barca manager singled out Irving Lozano and Steven Bergwijn as the biggest threats.
“PSV are the Dutch champions and one of the strongest teams in Europe” he added. “They like to control the play and I can’t see them changing that for the sake of a single game.”
“We all want to win this competition. The Champions League is always a special motivation for the players and that’s ideal for the team.”
Former Barca midfielder Mark Van Bommel is now the head coach at PSV. The Netherlands born legend played in the same team with Lionel Messi towards the twilight of his career.
“It’s really nice because there are still people here from my time here” he smiled. “And that is always special. But the only player left from my era is Leo Messi. Even back then you could tell that he was going to be one of the greats. And he is. I think he’s still the best player in the world.”
INTER MILAN VS TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR
Matches between Inter-Milan and Tottenham Hotspurs are usually high scoring affairs. This is why goals are expected at San Siro despite both clubs struggling for form in the league. The Nerazzurri return to the Champions League after six years and as former champions, they will want to make their presence felt.
On the other hand, English side Tottenham Hotspurs will want to put their league form behind them. After a disappointing last two matches on home soil, they will hope to return from Italy with smiles on their faces.
The last encounter between the two giants favoured them as they scored a late goal to eliminate Milan from the Europe League in 2013. Inter Milan are likely to go into this clash without their regular full-backs Sime Vrsalijko and Danilo D’Ambrosio.
LIVERPOOL VS PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN
Two of the most dominant sides currently in Europe will clash in the opening round of the UEFA Champions League. Both sides are in top form and have won all their league matches so far. Last year’s finalist Liverpool will host the ambitious PSG outfit at Anfield. The Reds are one of the most decorated teams in the competition while their opponents are yet to be crowned Europe’s best.
However the French champions have improved tremendously since bringing on board the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. PSG will definitely provide tough competition for Jurgen Klopp and his men away from home. Speaking to the press ahead of the encounter, the Liverpool mentor said he was well aware of the threat.
“Winning the first game is always an advantage, but we haven’t won it yet – we have to play it and it will be really difficult,” he said.
“PSG are one of the favourites for the competition that’s for sure. This team is built for winning the Champions League. It will be an interesting game for sure. With the players they have and the manager they have, they all brought it together to go as far as possible in the Champions League and we are aware of that.”
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