UEFA Champions League preview [October 23-24]

The meetings of Manchester United v Juventus, Barcelona v Internatzionale and Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid are the pick of matchday three clashes in the UEFA Champions League on...
epa07117535 FC Barcelona's forward Luis Suarez (R) and Internazionale's defender Kwaodwo Asamoa (L) vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League group B soccer match between FC Barcelona and FC Internazionale at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain, 24 October 2018. EPA/Enric Fontcuberta

The meetings of Manchester United v Juventus, Barcelona v Internatzionale and Borussia Dortmund v Atletico Madrid are the pick of matchday three clashes in the UEFA Champions League on 23 and 24 October exclusively on SuperSport.

The United v Juve clash at Old Trafford on Tuesday night is a throwback to one of the best rivalries in European football around the turn of the century – most memorably in the semi-finals of the 1998/99 UEFA Champions League when the Red Devils won 4-3 on aggregate and went on to win the tournament and complete an unprecedented treble.

One of the main narratives heading into this clash is the return to Old Trafford of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Portuguese was controversially sent off against Valencia last month, but UEFA banned him for just one match, meaning he will be available to play against the team where he established himself as one of the world’s best players.

Ronaldo, though, comes into the game under something of a cloud given the recent rape allegations which have emerged against him. The 33-year-old will look to find his escape on the pitch and is set to be given a warm welcome by United fans much as he was when he played against the Red Devils in the colours of Real Madrid back in 2013.

Barcelona v Inter Milan at the Camp Nou on Wednesday is another potential thriller, not just because it pits La Liga’s champions against one of Serie A’s heavyweights, but also as it could go a long way in deciding who wins Group B. Both teams have a full haul of six points and will be keen to open-up some daylight at the top of the log.

Inter boast two African stars Kwadwo Asamoah and Keita Balde who will be looking to enhance their reputation with strong showings against Barca, but the focus will of course fall on Lionel Messi. The Argentine gave a masterful performance in the last round of Champions League matches, inspiring the Catalans to a thumping win over Tottenham Hotspur. He is also the competition’s leading scorer with five goals.

Another Wednesday match sure to make headlines sees Borussia Dortmund host Thomas Partey’s Atletico Madrid in a top-of-the-table battle in Group A. BVB, who can field Moroccan defender Achraf Hakimi, have been in sublime form of late: they top the Bundesliga, are unbeaten in any competition this season, and have scored no less than 19 goals in their last four outings.

Other big games to keep an eye out for are Paris Saint-Germain v Kalidou Koulibaly’s Napoli, Club Brugge taking on a Monaco team which has welcomed the legendary Thierry Henry as their new manager, Liverpool looking for a home win over Richmond Boakye’s Red Star Belgrade, and Tottenham need a win away to Eredivisie champions PSV to revive their hopes of progressing into the knockout rounds.

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