Andrea Pirlo, Lionel Messi and Neymar are all hoping to be the stars of opening night as the UEFA Champions League returns on Tuesday.
Group E : Rennes vs Krasnodar (21:00CET)
Group E : Chelsea vs Sevilla (21:00CET)
Group F : Zenit vs Club Brugge (18:55CET)
Group F : Lazio vs Dortmund (21:00CET)
Group G : Dynamo Kyiv vs Juventus (18.55CET)
Group G : Barcelona vs Ferencváros (21:00CET)
Group H : Paris vs Man. United (21:00CET)
Group H : Leipzig vs Başakşehir (21:00CET)
How will Andrea Pirlo get on against his old boss?
In 1995, Mircea Lucescu gave midfielder Andrea Pirlo his Serie A debut at 16. 25 years on, Lucescu will be on the opposite bench when Pirlo makes his UEFA Champions League coaching debut with Juventus.
The 75-year-old Dynamo Kyiv boss remembers the young Pirlo as: “Incredible, mature; mature like he is now.” Can the 41-year-old outfox his old mentor in Ukraine, even with star striker Cristiano Ronaldo absent?
Like Pirlo, midfielder Eduardo Camavinga was 16 when he made his top-flight bow, and the Rennes man subsequently became France’s youngest senior international debutant since 1914 when he featured in the UEFA Nations League in September at 17. He should catch the eye in Rennes’s group stage debut against Krasnodar; as his old Rennes youth coach Landry Chauvin puts it: “He has this simplicity that brings the ball to life.”
Will Messi close the gap against Ferencváros?
With Ronaldo isolating, Lionel Messi has a chance to narrow the 15-goal gulf between the two megastars at the top of the all-time UEFA Champions League rankings.
Ferencváros visit Camp Nou, but Messi will not remember his only past meeting with a Hungarian side fondly.
At 18, he made his Argentina debut in an August 2005 friendly against the Magyars. He was sent off within two minutes of coming on.
Can Immobile show Dortmund his worth?
Outscoring Robert Lewandowski to win last season’s ESM Golden Shoe with 36 league goals will have brought a certain satisfaction for Lazio’s Ciro Immobile.
[Barcelona’s Captain Lionell Messy. Photo/courtesy].
The forward replaced Lewandowski when the Pole left Dortmund for Bayern in 2014, but underperformed in his only season in Germany: ten goals in 34 games in all competitions. As Lazio welcome Dortmund, the 30-year-old has a chance to get some closure.
Paris vs United: the revenge mission
On 6 March this year, Marcus Rashford posted an Instagram to mark one year since his late penalty in Paris completed a stunning round of 16 come back, the Reds Devils overturning a 2-0 home defeat to progress with a 3-1 success at Parc des Princes. “What a night,” wrote Rashford; Neymar, who watched both legs from the sidelines, will be anxious to help the French champions get their own back.