CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Group stage preview for English teams
Credit: PA Martin Rickett
The fourth round of Champions League group-stage fixtures takes place this week with clubs facing a rematch of games from a fortnight ago.
The Italian side gave United a scare at Old Trafford a fortnight ago and, with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer under severe pressure, they could inflict some heavy damage in the return in Bergamo. Gian Piero Gasperini’s side are third in Group F with four points but, with just two points separating leaders United from bottom side Young Boys, there is all to play for in the remaining three games. Atalanta, who are in the group stage for a third-successive year, are fifth in Serie A after snatching a last-gasp 2-2 draw against Lazio on Saturday.
Having battled through four qualifying rounds, the Swedish champions have found the going tough in Group H. Jon Dahl Tomasson’s side have lost their opening three matches and have a goal difference of minus 11 following their 4-0 defeat by holders Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Domestically they are at least in good form as they prepare to host the Blues at the Eleda Stadium. They have won five of their last seven games, including a last-gasp 3-2 success at Sirius on Saturday that kept them top of the table.
The Belgian champions were no real match for City a fortnight ago as they were thrashed 5-1 at the Jan Breydel Stadium. The loss dealt a blow to their hopes of progressing from Group A after they had made a positive start with a draw against Paris St Germain and victory over RB Leipzig. Overhauling either of the group heavyweights now seems a tall order. They head to the Etihad Stadium second in their domestic league after a 2-1 win at St Truiden but will be without midfielder Eder Balanta through suspension.
The Spanish champions’ trip to Liverpool will be eagerly anticipated after the two sides played out a classic at the Wanda Metropolitano last time out. The Reds edged that one 3-2 after a frantic finish but Atletico will feel they have unfinished business. Antoine Griezmann is out after his sending off two weeks ago but there is plenty more quality in Diego Simeone’s squad, not least in former Liverpool star Luis Suarez. Trailing the Premier League side by five points in Group B, Atletico need a win to ensure they stay ahead of Porto. They warmed up with a 3-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.
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