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Aguero to miss Juventus visit

sergio-aguero

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is out of Tuesday's Champions League visit of Juventus because of a knee injury but David Silva and Raheem Sterling have trained and are expected to return.

Aguero was injured in a challenge by Scott Dann in the 1-0 win against Crystal Palace on Saturday and manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed the 27-year-old will not face the Serie A champions. Silva and Sterling missed the victory against Alan Pardew's men but both trained on Monday and will be included in the match-day squad.
New signing Kevin de Bruyne replaced Aguero after 25 minutes at Selhurst Park but Pellegrini refused to be drawn on whether the Belgium playmaker will start the Group D opener.
He told his pre-match press conference: "We'll see tomorrow if Kevin de Bruyne will start.
We need to make one change with Sergio Aguero. Kevin played very well the other day. Wilfried Bony and Sterling can also play up front so we have different options. I trust this squad 100%." Last season's Scudetto winners Juve have not won any of their opening three fixtures in the Italian top flight but Pellegrini warned he is expecting a difficult match-day one. "We play a very strong Juventus side – they reached the final last season and have won four [Serie A] titles in a row," he added. "Juventus have not started well in their league but this is a different competition. They will be motivated. I hope we qualify from the group, and then I hope we will have more luck to avoid the strongest team in the last 16." Manchester City are currently priced 4/5 by 
bet365 in the match betting and the draw outcome is quoted 5/2. Juventus are available to back at 9/2.

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Branislav Ivanovic has told champions Chelsea to "wake up"

Branislav-Ivanovic

Branislav Ivanovic has told champions Chelsea to "wake up" to the reality that they face an uphill battle to catch leaders Manchester City and get back into the Premier League title race.

A 3-1 defeat by a Steven Naismith-inspired Everton on Saturday was the capital club's third of the season so far and they could find themselves in the relegation zone by the time they host London rivals Arsenal in a huge Stamford Bridge showdown on Saturday. "We need one big win to come back to our way. We are not playing as badly as the results are showing but we have to wake up," Ivanovic told Chelsea TV.
"I think at the moment we are being punished for all our mistakes. The only way we can change is to work hard and be ready for the next game, so it is like a final and we have to play like a final."
The west Londoners will turn their attentions to the Champions League on Wednesday when they entertain Maccabi Tel Aviv in Group G and Serbia defender Ivanovic is targeting a big win to get the season back on track. Defeat in the round of 16 signalled an early departure from the competition last season and defender Ivanovic feels victory on match-day one could help spark Chelsea's season into life. He said: "The next game is very important for us. It is a new competition and it is time to change all this situation. I hope we will start winning the games soon."
Chelsea are currently priced 1/7 by 
bet365 in the match betting and the draw outcome is quoted 8/1. Maccabi Tel-Aviv are available to back at 25/1.

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Guardiola proud of Bayern despite defeat

Pep Guardiola

Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola insisted he was proud of his team even though they lost the first leg of their Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid.

The European champions had 72 percent of possession over the course of the game but were beaten by Karim Benzema's first-half goal, the result of a lightning-quick counter from Real.

Carlo Ancelotti's side created more goalscoring chances than the visitors, and could have been 3-0 up at half-time had Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria taken their chances.

Bayern's best opportunity fell to substitute Mario Gotze with five minutes remaining, but his effort was repelled by Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

However, Guardiola insisted he was pleased with how his players had performed.

"I could not be prouder of my team, because we dominated the ball," Guardiola told reporters.

"I told my players that I wanted them to play with courage and bravery and with respect to the people who were watching us, and that's what we did.

"I know how difficult it is to play against Real Madrid, as a player and as a coach, and many players are scared when they come here, but we showed character."

The coach also defended his team's tactics, when asked if they should have played in a more direct manner.

"The faster the ball goes forward, the faster Madrid bring it back to us," he said. "Madrid's virtue is that they are so quick on the counter-attack, they are unstoppable in that sense. Their players are footballers but they are like athletes, so playing back and forth is a risk."

Bayern winger Arjen Robben also insisted that the Bavarians had produced a strong performance.

He told German television station ZDF: "We head into the second leg with a lot of confidence. I think we played well, we were up against Real Madrid, a super team, and we dominated them.

"We created a couple of chances, Gotze's was excellent. Now we have to improve for the return match."

However, former Bayern player and coach and honourary president Franz Beckenbauer was less impressed.

He told Sky television: "Possession doesn't mean anything when your opponents create the better chances. We are lucky they only scored one."

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti was delighted with the result.

"I'm happy in every sense, with the result, and with the effort the players made, because it was a very difficult game," he said.

"We played well and we knew how to cope under pressure.

"At first we were a little shy and had some problems, but we had more control of the play in the second half. We defended a lot, but we created some very good counter-attacks."

Cristiano Ronaldo made his first appearance in 22 days following a hamstring injury, but was replaced by Gareth Bale with 16 minutes left.

And Ancelotti explained he had always planned to bring his prolific forward off before the end of the game.

"The only risk was that the muscle would be tired so we were always planning on substituting him," he said. "It's normal that after 20 days out he was not going to be at 100 percent."

However, the Italian stated that Ronaldo and Bale, who began on the bench because he was recovering from a flu virus, would be able to start the second leg at the Allianz Arena.

 

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Borussia Dortmund v Zenit - UEFA Champions League

UEFA Champions League: Borussia Dortmund v Zenit

Semak was handed control of first-team affairs at Zenit last week following the departure of Luciano Spalletti and will oversee his first UEFA Champions League match on Wednesday at Signal Iduna Park.

However, it could well be his last for some time with Andre Villas-Boas strongly tipped to be announced as Spalletti's long-term successor and Dortmund strong favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

 

Things could be much worse for Zenit, given that Dortmund - last seasons's Champions League runners-up - moved two goals ahead inside six minutes in the first leg of their last-16 tie, which took place in Russia last month.

However, Jurgen Klopp's side will have to suffer an unlikely collapse on home turf if Zenit are to progress.

Dortmund have won eight of their last nine Champions League home games, with a 1-0 defeat to Arsenal in this season's group stage the only setback.

Zenit, meanwhile, head into Wednesday's game having triumphed in just one of their last seven Russian Premier League matches.

Spalletti's exit followed a goalless draw with Tom Tomsk and Zenit then suffered a 1-0 defeat to CSKA Moscow at the weekend in Semak's first game at the helm.

Belgian defender Nicolas Lombaerts says he and his team-mates must take responsibility for the club's poor form.  

"If the coach is fired, the players should take a look at themselves. In the end, if he was fired, then we're one of the main causes," Lombaerts told the club's official website. 

"But unfortunately that's the life of a head coach, and we have to move on. We're playing for Zenit, so we have to do everything to get back on top."

While Dortmund slipped up with defeat at the weekend, they are still a point ahead of third-placed Schalke in the Bundesliga - with the two sides due to meet next Tuesday. 

They also remain in contention for the DFB-Pokal and history suggests they will progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League as well.

In the 12 UEFA competition ties where Dortmund have won the first leg away from home, they have triumphed on aggregate 11 times.

Striker Robert Lewandowski has underlined the team's eagerness to bounce back after the loss to Monchengladbach.

"Of course we can play better. In the end, a draw would have been fair. Now we need to check off the defeat quickly and focus on Zenit St. Petersburg on Wednesday," he told Dortmund's official website.

Klopp could be without Marco Reus, who has missed Dortmund's last three games with a muscle problem, while Zenit's Aleksandr Ryazantsev, a January signing from Rubin Kazan, is not registered for the UEFA Champions League.

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UEFA Champions League: Olympiacos v Manchester Utd

Manchester United travel to Olympiacos in good spirits for the first leg of their last-16 UEFA Champions League tie.

It was always going to be a tough season for the three-times champions of Europe, with David Moyes facing the unenviable task of replacing Alex Ferguson.

United's Premier League form may be inconsistent, but Moyes' men have looked convincing in the Champions League, topping Group A, remaining unbeaten and conceding just three goals in six games.

Last Friday's news that striker Wayne Rooney had signed a new deal until 2019 was well received by the club's supporters and the United and England striker scored 24 hours later in a 2-0 victory at Crystal Palace.

Just as encouraging for Moyes is the return of Robin van Persie after a campaign that has been blighted by injury. The Dutchman has still managed to score 14 goals in all competitions this term, with four coming in his last five league games.

Moyes will check on the fitness of Phil Jones, Rafael da Silva and Jonny Evans, who all missed Saturday's win at Selhurst Park, while Danny Welbeck's knee injury looks set to keep him sidelined.

January signing Juan Mata is ineligible, having played for Chelsea earlier in the competition. In more positive news, Darren Fletcher has been added to United's Champions League squad.

United face an Olympiacos side that are coasting the Super League in Greece. Michel's men are unbeaten in the league since February last year and have this season amassed an astonishing goal difference of plus 69, conceding just nine goals.

Olympiacos made it to the last 16 in dramatic circumstances, finishing second in Group C behind Paris Saint-Germain to progress at the expense of Benfica thanks to a superior head-to-head record.

Michel's team could not be going into Tuesday's first leg in better form after demolishing OFI Crete 4-0 at the weekend, a game that included a hat-trick for Serbian striker Marko Scepovic. Like Mata, though, he is ineligible.

But the victory came at a price. Scepovic got his chance because of a thigh injury to forward Javier Saviola, who will now miss the match with United.

January additions Hernan Perez and Ivan Marcano are both available for Tuesday's clash, while Nelson Valdez also joined last month, but an ankle injury means he is a doubt.

The omens are not good for the Greek side. In four Champions League meetings with Manchester United, Olympiacos have been defeated four times, scoring just twice.

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UEFA Champions League: Zenit v B. Dortmund

Borussia Dortmund's bid to improve on last season's runners-up finish in the UEFA Champions League resumes at Zenit.

Jurgen Klopp's men progressed past Shakhtar Donetsk, Malaga and Real Madrid in the knockout stages to reach the 2012-13 final, before ultimately coming unstuck against fellow Bundesliga side Bayern Munich, losing 2-1 at Wembley as a result of Arjen Robben's 89th-minute winner.

Dortmund topped Group F this term, albeit only narrowly after Arsenal and Napoli also finished on 12 points.

While the Italian side were eliminated from the Champions League, Zenit made it through to the last 16 with half as many points, having finished second in a group dominated by La Liga high-fliers Atletico Madrid.

Zenit's only win in Group G came against Porto, but that sole triumph combined with three draws proved enough to seal a place in the knockout rounds for the second time.

Dortmund, by contrast, had to win four matches to guarantee their progression – with a 2-1 victory at Marseille in matchday six ultimately proving crucial.

After enduring a shaky spell prior to the Bundesliga winter break, Dortmund looked set to return to Champions League action in fine form.

However, the club were sensationally denied a fourth straight league win on Saturday as relegation-threatened Hamburg recorded a shock 3-0 triumph.

Klopp's side are now 20 points behind leaders Bayern following the champions' 4-0 win at Hannover on Sunday, and a point adrift of second-placed Bayer Leverkusen.

Zenit, meanwhile, have not played a competitive match since their final Champions League group game on December 11 due to Russia's winter break and do not return to domestic action until March 9.

Luciano Spalletti's team sit top of the Russian Premier League thanks to a superior head-to-head record against Lokomotiv Moscow, who also have 40 points, but have been inconsistent in recent friendlies.

CSKA Moscow, Trans and Metalurh Donetsk all suffered defeats to Zenit, but the Russians were beaten by Shakhtar Donetsk and Metalist Kharkiv.

Spalletti will have a full squad to choose from barring any late fitness problems, meaning Salomon Rondon – a January signing from Rubin Kazan – could make his Champions League debut.

Marco Reus returned from injury against Hamburg and will be available once again, but Mats Hummels (ankle) is a doubt and Ilkay Gundogan (compression of the spine), Sven Bender (pubic bone inflammation), Neven Subotic (knee) and Jakub Blaszczykowski (knee) are definitely out.

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UEFA Champions League: Bayer Leverkusen v PSG

The absence of Edinson Cavani may play a key role as Paris Saint-Germain visit Bayer Leverkusen in the UEFA Champions League last 16.

PSG reached the quarter-finals of last season's competition under the guidance of Carlo Ancelotti and look to be among the contenders this term after a strong group stage campaign.

Laurent Blanc's men lost just one game on their way to topping Group C, the setback coming against Benfica after the Ligue 1 champions had already secured progression.

The French capital club head into Tuesday's first leg at the BayArena in fine form, having lost once in 10 matches in all competitions since the end of the mid-season break.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has produced some of his best performances in the Champions League this season and is the tournament's second top-scorer with eight goals.

And the onus will likely be on the Sweden striker to deliver the goods again with strike partner Cavani - scorer of 20 goals since joining from Napoli - set to miss out because of a thigh injury picked up against Bordeaux last month.

Defender Christophe Jallet is the only other major injury concern, although the right-back is nearing a return to full fitness.

Leverkusen, meanwhile, will be without midfielder Emre Can due to suspension, while Stefan Reinartz (foot) is a doubt.

The hosts are depleted by the loss of strikers Eren Derdiyok (foot) and Robbie Kruse (knee).

Sami Hyypia's men qualified for the knock-out stages after finishing second behind Manchester United in Group A, with a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad in the final round of group fixtures ensuring Leverkusen's place in the last 16.

However, Leverkusen have been in disappointing form of late, winning just two of their previous seven outings.

But, after German sides Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund reached the final of last season's tournament, Blanc insists his PSG players are fully prepared for a difficult challenge against a team that sits second in the Bundesliga.

"The players will be ready because you know that we need to be physically ready as the Germans will be," Blanc said. "That is for sure because they (German sides) are very serious about preparation.

"They (Leverkusen) had a three-week winter break, it wasn't for no reason that last season two German teams reached the final of the Champions League."

 

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UEFA Champions League: Manc. City v Barcelona

Manchester City play their first UEFA Champions League knockout-stage tie on Tuesday against four-time European champions Barcelona.

In what is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated fixtures of the round of 16, Manuel Pellegrini's City welcome the Spanish champions to the Etihad Stadium for the first leg.

Both sides come into the game off the back of positive domestic results at the weekend, with City beating Premier League title rivals Chelsea 2-0 in the FA Cup, while Barcelona hit six past Rayo Vallecano without reply in La Liga.

With both team firmly in contention for their respective domestic titles, City will be particularly buoyed by their impressive form in this season's Champions League, which saw them accumulate more points than Gerardo Martino's men in the group stage.

Despite finishing second in Group D behind holders Bayern Munich, City were able to beat the German champions and finish on 15 points - two more than Barca gained in Group H.

Pellegrini's side have failed to win just two of their 20 home games in all competitions this season and have conceded only 18 times in that run.

City have scored at least four goals in 12 of those matches, with former Barca midfielder Yaya Toure enjoying his more advanced role under Pellegrini.

"At Barcelona it was my job to hold and organise. It was all about being focused and never losing concentration. Now I can drop into defence or join the attack," he told UEFA.com.

"I was limited to playing in the middle at Barcelona. I like playing in England because it's an open league and very fast-paced.

"The first two campaigns were difficult, but now everything is going well."

Despite City making the most of home comforts so far this season, Barca are likely to offer Pellegrini's charges a stern test when they visit, having reached at least the semi-final stage on their last six attempts.

Even with a draw against Milan and defeat to Ajax in the group stage, Barca topped their group by four points and remain on course for a treble - having already booked their place in the Copa del Rey final.

With Tuesday's opponents having averaged three goals a game during their group campaign, Martino remains confident in his side after Saturday's comprehensive victory over Rayo.

"We're on form coming into the match against City, this is the perfect moment to try to qualify for the quarter-finals," he told Barca's official website.

"Most of the players are playing really well."

Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero are likely to miss out for City, while Martino has no injury concerns.

 

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Manchester City - Barcelona Preview 2014 Champions League - 02/18

Champions-League

Manchester City - Barcelona - How do the Teams Compare?

With the Champions League round of 16 looming ever large in a few weeks, it is time to take a look at a few of the matchups in coming weeks. The most hotly anticipated matchup of the round is undoubtedly Barcelona against Manchester City. On one end, you have arguably the most celebrated team of the last few years and on the other you have an English side that is trying to establish itself as one of the elites in the world. 

How do they match up?

Both sides have a plethora of superstars, Spanish superstars no less. City has David Silva, Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas leading the way alongside Argentine Sergio Aguero. Barcelona of course has its own Argentine superstar in Lionel Messi but has a supporting cast of Spanish studs like Xavi, Cesc Fabregas, Andres Iniesta, and Gerard Pique. Throw in Neymar and Alexis Sanchez and Barcelona looks like the favorite. But it is not really that easy.

Why Manchester City has the advantage...

The English side has just as potent an offense as Barcelona and has size up front that could hurt the Spanish side's fragile defense. Barcelona's 3-2 loss to Valencia this weekend reminded the world that this team can score, but it has a hard time keeping the ball out of its own net. City also recently defeated Bayern Munich (in December) and has the confidence to go against any top team. It also helps to be playing at home, where they have only lost once in the Premier League and once in the UCL (against Munich).

Why Barcelona has the advantage...

Barcelona's defense is far from great; but City's is nothing to brag about. The goaltending is also a cause for concern as Joe Hart has yet to prove that he has returned to his top form. Factor in Barcelona's strong passing game and its speed on the flanks with Neymar and Sanchez and they should have no difficulty unlocking City's defense. Furthermore, the Spaniards also know that the English side is woeful away from the Ethiad Stadium and will likely take advantage of that in the second leg.

Players to Watch

The English side will hope to win the battle of the Argentineans. Sergio Aguero is the team's top offensive weapon and will be relied heavily on to break down Barcelona's weak defense. If Barca manages to stifle his space, then it will have a huge advantage in this battle.

Over at Barcelona, the player to watch is not Messi (you always watch him), but Xavi. The Spanish midfielder has not been at his best and this has greatly affected Barcelona's passing game. He needs to control the pace of the game if Barcelona is to win this matchup.

Prediction: Barcelona and City tie 1-1 in the opening leg but the Spaniards cruise with a 2-0 win at home.

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Arsene Wenger has praised his side after the win in Champions League


Wenger mentioned that his side were mature during the match with Borussia Dortmund and were fully deserving of all three points.

Arsene has been known for his development of young players in the last few years, but he feels his side showed maturity in going about their business on Wednesday night.

Wenger told the press : “We were compact and worked together and although there was a difficult period in the first half we put in a very mature performance.”

Borussia Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp feels his side should be disappointed with their performance on Wednesday.

Klopp said to the press, “No one should be disappointed with the performance of the team.”

Borussia Dortmund can still qualify, but will need two victories in their last two European outings.

Arsenal is looking to be the early pace-setters in both the Premier League, and also in the Champions League.

Arsenal's form has been excellent, as has their star man Aaron Ramsey, who had been heavily criticised in the last few seasons. If you bet on football look at getting the best from football betting online to increase betting value.

They face another challenge this weekend when they take on Manchester United at Old Trafford. The North London club are eight points clear of the current champions, however David Moyes’ side appear to have finally found some form after a bad start to the campaign.

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UEFA Champions League: Manchester United vs Real Sociedad

The third matchday of the UEFA Champions League group stage continues on Wednesday, with Premier League champions Manchester United set to host last season's surprise package from La Liga, Real Sociedad.

United will be favourites with Sociedad yet to muster a point in the group stage, but the Red Devils' own stuttering form this term means it's far from a sure thing that a home win will be the outcome.

Despite Sociedad's woes, both domestically and in Europe so far this season, the group is tight enough that a single mistake from David Moyes and his side in this game might be enough to really put United under pressure—and put La Real back in the frame for qualification.

Shakhtar Donetsk and Bayer Leverkusen face off on Wednesday also. The Ukrainians lead the group with United on four points, with the German outfit one point behind in third.

Having already beaten Leverkusen at home, Moyes and United will be confident of doing the same against Sociedad. But they have to beware a team who returned to winning ways at the weekend and who have a number of hugely talented attackers to call upon.

Real Sociedad had only won once in their opening eight La Liga matches this season, but they impressively beat Valencia 2-1 at the Mestalla on Saturday. Despite that poor start, they've won just one fewer game in Spain's top-flight than United have managed in England, with United also winning just once in the league at home so far.

In Antoine Griezmann and Carlos Vela, Sociedad have two quality attackers who are capable of finding a route through the best defences to goal.

Moyes has seen his team concede at a rate of more than one goal per game in the Premier League and in the Champions League so far. He must be wary of allowing those two in particular the time and space to have an impact, even on the counter-attack.

Sociedad have struggled with the demands of playing twice weekly; United, on the other hand, are well accustomed to this by now.

It should be a United win if Moyes can choose the right supporting players to provide enough supply lines to the presumed front two of Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie. Three points here will put United in a strong position to qualify from the group stages, which would mark the first major milestone of Moyes' time as manager.

While suffering form in the Premier League is perhaps a natural consequence of the managerial change and can be overlooked for a spell, not getting out of a relatively straightforward Champions League group could only be looked at as failure.

Moyes and his side could well be in charge of Group A once again by the time the full-time whistle goes at Old Trafford on Wednesday, but the manager knows this is a game for him to get the big decisions right in his team selection.

Anything less than a win, with away trips to Spain and Germany to follow in the second half of the group stage, would amount to time for some serious worries within the United camp.

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UEFA Champions League: Real Madrid v Juventus

Real Madrid and Juventus, two heavyweights of European football, go head to head at Santiago Bernabéu tomorrow in their next Champions League groups stage fixture.

The clubs have a lot of shared history, with Juventus having the upper hand in this fixture in recent times: The Italian club have won five of their last six meetings with Real Madrid. In fact, Real Madrid’s last win over Juventus came in 2005 when Ivan Helguera scored the winner.

Juventus won 2-0 on their last visit to this stadium as club legend Alessandro Del Piero scored a memorable brace to stun the home support. This will be the eighth meeting between these two sides at Bernabéu, and the home side have won five of those matches.

It is fair to say that Juventus are in more desperate need for a positive result in this game than Real Madrid, having drawn their opening two matches and lagging behind table toppers Madrid who have won both of their’s.

Team news and tactics

Real Madrid

Real Madrid vs Juventus - Di Maria has shone in the Champions League so far

Di Maria has been in stunning form, perhaps driven by Gareth Bale’s arrival?

Real Madrid have had a busy summer with big name arrivals and departures grabbing all the headlines. The Madrid club have made a good start to their season under new manager Carlo Ancelotti. They are currently third in the league table behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, having won seven of their nine matches. Their only defeat this season, in any competition, has been against their neighbors Atletico Madrid in the La Liga.

They have made a brilliant start to their European campaign as well with two impressive performances against Galatasaray and Copenhagen in their opening two matches. Madrid have scored 10 goals in these two games – conceding just one in the process. In their last European game, Los Blancos dismantled FC Copenhagen at home as Cristiano Ronaldo and Angel Di Maria scored a brace each. With every other team struggling in this group, Real could virtually book their place in the next round with a victory against Juventus.

Real Madrid are coming into this game on the back of a 2-0 victory over Malaga, with Angel Di Maria and Ronaldo getting on the score sheet. This win helped them reduce the gap at the top as both Barcelona and Atletico Madrid dropped points.

Carlo Ancelotti doesn’t have too many injury concerns at this moment. Record summer signing Gareth Bale has recovered from his injury and featured as a substitute in their last game, but the former Tottenham winger is not fit enough to start this game and will find his place on the bench. Xabi Alonso is also close to completing his return to the starting line-up, but he is unlikely to feature in this game.

Carlo Ancelotti is expected to make three changes to the side that he fielded against Malaga. Karim Benzema will replace Alvaro Morata upfront, while Raphael Varane will return to the center of defence alongside Sergio Ramos. Iker Casillas is also likely to feature in goal in place of Diego Lopez. Ancelotti used a 4-3-3 formation against Malaga in the league, but against Juventus he would go for a more conservative 4-2-3-1. Juventus looked vulnerable on the break against Fiorentina last weekend and Real Madrid have the right ammunition in their side to exploit exactly that.

Expected starting line-up (4-2-3-1): Casillas (GK); Carvajal, Ramos, Varane, Marcelo; Khedira, Illarramendi; Di Maria, Isco, Ronaldo; Benzema

Juventus

Juventus have made a shaky start to their campaign this season. While they have won six of their opening eight league games, they haven’t been producing the performances that one has come to expect from them under Antonio Conte. They are already five points behind league leaders AS Roma and will certainly need to improve if they are to harbor any hope of retaining their Serie A title. The Italian side have won only four of their last eight matches in all competitions.

Real Madrid vs Juventus - Pirlo's experience needed at the Bernabeu

Juve will need all of Pirlo’s experience and pedigree to beat Real at the Bernabéu

The Bianconeri have also made a disappointing start to their European campaign with two draws in their opening two matches against Copenhagen and Galatasaray. In their last European game, Juventus conceded an early goal against Galatasaray, but two late goals in the second half from Vidal and Quagliarella looked to have secured a victory for them. Only Umut Bulut managed to equalize right at the end. It was a disappointing result for them and one that extends the lead at the top to four points for Real Madrid.

Juventus are coming into this game on the back of another disappointing result against Fiorentina in the league. Juventus dominated for 60 minutes in that game and had a two goal lead, but Fiorentina then came back strongly and the Juventus defence crumbled under pressure. Fiorentina scored four goals in fourteen minutes as the game turned on its head. Antonio Conte will hope that his side will have recovered from this morale shattering loss to their rivals ahead of this big game.

Conte has some injury concerns ahead of this game: Simone Pepe, Mirko Vucinic, Fabio Quagliarella and Stephan Lichsteiner are all out of contention. Arturo Vidal, who missed the match against Fiorentina, has reportedly picked up an injury; concerns regarding his fitness ahead of this match means he could possibly start on the bench.

Antonio Conte is expected to make only one change to the starting line-up that was fielded against Fiorentina. Mauricio Isla is expected to replace Simone Padoin on the right. He will use his usual 3-5-2 formation and will hope for a much improved showing from the likes of Pirlo and Bonucci in this game.

Expected starting line-up (3-5-2): Buffon (GK); Barzagli, Bonucci, Chiellini; Isla, Pogba, Pirlo, Marchisio, Asamoah; Llorente, Tevez

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UEFA Champions League: Schalke v Chelsea

Chelsea head to Germany to face Schalke on Tuesday hoping to pull themselves level on points with the UEFA Champions League Group E leaders.

The Bundesliga side have made a superb start to their continental campaign, picking up a 3-0 home win over Steaua Bucharest on matchday one, and a 1-0 victory at Basel a fortnight later.

Jose Mourinho's Chelsea, meanwhile, bounced back from a 2-1 opening-game defeat to the Swiss champions in the best possible way last time out - cruising to a 4-0 win in Romania.

That loss against Basel in September is their last defeat in any competition, with the West London club currently second in the Premier League following a 4-1 win over Cardiff City on Saturday.

Schalke's domestic campaign has faltered, however, with Jens Keller's men picking up just four victories from their opening nine fixtures, although they head into this clash off the back of a 3-2 win at Eintracht Braunschweig on Saturday in which they were forced to come from behind twice.

The sides have met at this stage of the UEFA Champions League on one previous occasion - in 2007 - when Chelsea came away with a point from a goalless draw at the Veltins-Arena, having beaten the German side 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

Both eventually qualified from that group, with Chelsea going on to lose the final on penalties to Manchester United.

Schalke will be looking to their top domestic goalscorer Adam Szalai to find his shooting boots in Europe, while Julian Draxler will aim to maintain his record of having scored in both matches in the group stages so far.

But the Bundesliga's fifth-placed side have a lengthy injury list to contend with, including striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who is set to miss three to four months with a knee injury that will require surgery.

Midfielder Marco Hoger was also forced off in the weekend win with a knee injury and is now a major doubt.

For Chelsea, Ashley Cole is a fitness concern after missing England's final two FIFA World Cup qualifiers and his club's win at the weekend with a rib injury, while Andre Schurrle was also absent for the Cardiff match due to a muscle problem in his leg.

Victory by one goal would be enough to send Chelsea above Schalke in the group.

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