Champions League football is back. La Liga has started at breakneck speed, as some of last season’s top six struggle to put together a run of positive form, and yet their reward from last campaign is an instalment of further fixtures in an already busy period. If we are yet to the see the best from the likes of Atlético Madrid and Valencia, but a night under the floodlights might be the perfect motivation to get their juices flowing.
A home game against PSV is a steady way for Barcelona to kick off their Champions League campaign after a 100 percent start to LaLiga. Although Ernesto Valverde’s side haven’t been at their best, Ousmane Dembélé has been one of the players to pop up with goals at important times, as the young Frenchman continues to look very sharp in the opening weeks of the season. Lionel Messi will want to impress after a quiet game, by his high standards, last time out.
Valverde attempted to rest a few key players for his side’s weekend clash against Real Sociedad, but a tough encounter saw Sergio Busquets and Philippe Coutinho brought off the bench to salvage a game that was threatening to get away from the Blaugrana. No big injury problems should hold the hosts back and Busquets will anchor the midfield, providing the calm and composure that Barca need to control the game against their Dutch opponents. Their front three should be in good spirits heading into Tuesday evening.
Diego Simeone’s side started their season brilliantly in the European Super Cup, scoring freely in a 4-2 extra-time win over rivals Real Madrid, but things haven’t gone well from that point on. Diego Costa is low on confidence and doesn’t look fully fit, while Antoine Griezmann is yet to grab LaLiga by the scruff of the neck.
Los Colchoneros welcomed a lot of new talent over the summer, but Simeone is yet to find his preferred balance in midfield. Monaco are not the same threat in the Champions League that they were a couple of seasons ago, but their youthful squad could easily catch Atleti off guard at the Stade Louis II if they get their game plan wrong. The Madrid-based club have been poor so far this season, with Diego Godín an unexpected culprit, but Ángel Correa and Saúl can be pleased with their own personal runs of form. A positive result in Monaco might get the ball rolling elsewhere.
Julen Lopetegui has Los Blancos enjoying their football. Imposing a new philosophy upon a group that is well capable of challenging to go all the way yet again in this season’s edition of the Champions League, the speed at which his players have taken on his ideas in terms of style and mentality is very impressive. Cristiano Ronaldo may no longer be around, but the competition’s current holders have a wide range of options in attack to experiment with. This group now have more ways to win and are certainly far less predictable compared to their plans under Zinedine Zidane.
Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio have been in terrific form as Real Madrid’s front three, but work needs to be done for Lopetegui to know which midfield three will be best to match his aims in certain situations and tough matches. Taking maximum points at home against a beatable Roma side would set them up nicely to make an early move for top spot in Group G.
Marcelino’s side are yet to taste victory so far in competitive action this season but must welcome Juventus this week as Champions League football returns to Mestalla. Los Che have been struggling to create and have looked quite shaky at the back, as they struggle to find that same balance and cohesiveness that made them such a tough unit to break down last campaign. The impact of Valencia’s home support will be huge in inspiring an upturn in form, as they will be playing out in front of an expectant capacity crowd on Wednesday.
Gonçalo Guedes will be looking to make a big statement with a first strong performance since his return to the club, while Rodrigo Moreno has looked the sharpest of Valencia’s offensive options so far this season. Weakness in defence could cost the hosts, as Ezequiel Garay and Jeison Murillo battle to get back fit, while right-back looks to be a huge problem area defensively for Marcelino to think about. Although they haven’t hit expectations so far this campaign in LaLiga action, the motivation for Juventus’ visit should be through the roof.