Messi set for PSG Champions League bow

Will they? PSG fans will be hoping that the trip to Club Brugge culminates in the strike trio of Neymar, Mbappe and Messi playing together for the first time. File   | Photo Credit: AFP

Lionel Messi came to Paris to win the Champions League again and on Wednesday he is set to finally make his first start for his new club when it kick offs its European campaign in Bruges.

In more than a month he has been seen in a PSG jersey for just 24 minutes as a substitute in a Ligue 1 game at Reims.

However, PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino is expected to finally unleash him from the start at the Jan Breydel Stadium against Belgian champions Club Brugge in the Group A opener.

If Neymar and Kylian Mbappe start too, it will be the first time the superstar attacking trio will have been on the pitch together for the Parisians.

PSG will play Abu Dhabi-backed Manchester City — the team that knocked it out in last season’s semifinals — as well as RB Leipzig in a group that could hardly have been tougher, but this is a team built to go all the way.

Simone Inzaghi is trying to put Inter Milan’s rocky recent European past behind him as his side prepares for the visit of Real Madrid and an attempt to finally make it to the knockouts.

Inter also has the chance to get revenge on two of the sides which denied it a place in the knockout rounds last year, with Madrid and Shakhtar Donetsk again paired with Inter, this time in Group D with minnows Sheriff FC.

Inzaghi still has a strong base from which to attack the competition, with Copa America winner Lautaro Martinez in form up front and one of Italy’s Euro 2020 heroes Nicolo Barella shining in midfield.

New signings Edin Dzeko, Hakan Calhanoglu and Joaquin Correa have all settled in well but up to now have only faced modest opposition.

Madrid leads La Liga and has scored 13 times in four matches, with nine of those strikes coming from red-hot Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior.

Madrid will be without Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos, Marcelo and Ferland Mendy, with Bale reportedly suffering a hamstring injury that could keep him out for some time.

AC Milan makes its long-awaited return to the Champions League with a trip to Liverpool.

There will be 13 European Cups between the two teams at Anfield, but while Reds have become one of the continent’s most feared sides under Jurgen Klopp, the Italian side will run out for its first group fixture in the competition since 2013.

It is in confident mood after a fast start to the new Serie A season which has earned it a perfect nine points from its opening three matches.

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Printable version | Oct 27, 2021 7:50:45 PM |

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