Wednesday fixtures (click for live build-up)
Group A: Salzburg vs Lokomotiv Moskva (18:55CET)
Group A: Bayern vs Atlético (21:00CET)
Group B: Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (18:55CET)
Group B: Inter Milan vs Mönchengladbach (21:00CET)
Group C: Olympiacos vs Marseille (21.00CET)
Group C: Man. City vs Porto (21:00CET)
Group D: Ajax vs Liverpool (21:00CET)
Group D: Midtjylland vs Atalanta (21:00CET)
Lewandowski vs Suárez: who will shine brightest?
With 15 goals over the course of Bayern’s stunning campaign – 11 games, 11 wins – Robert Lewandowski was the star of last season’s UEFA Champions League, and a clear winner in the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year vote. He will seek to maintain that striking form in this season’s group stage, but an opener against miserly Atlético means he could be upstaged by Los Colchoneros’ new arrival Luis Suárez.
Every time like the first time for Sergio Ramos
Matchday 1 could easily feel like Groundhog Day for Sergio Ramos; Real Madrid’s game against Shakhtar marks the start of the defender’s 17th successive UEFA Champions League campaign. However, no one sums up the spirit of the competition quite like the 34-year-old. As he put it: "You have to reset every year and start from scratch; to live each triumph, every trophy win, as if it were a completely new thing." Keep it up.
Ajax vs Liverpool: battle of the giants
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this matchday 1 fixture is that it is only Ajax and Liverpool’s third European encounter. Their first two tussles came in the 1966/67 European Cup second round; Johan Cruyff scored three across two legs as Ajax won 5-1 in Amsterdam then drew 2-2 at Anfield. Having netted in four of his side’s last seven European away games, might Mohamed Salah be the star this time around?
An Olympian struggle for Valbuena
“Marseille and me, we’re linked for life,” tweeted Mathieu Valbuena after his current club, Olympiacos, drew OM in the group stage. The midfielder spent eight seasons at Marseille before leaving for Dinamo Moskva in 2015, so fans were not exactly delighted when he returned to France to join Marseille's rivals Lyon two years later. Expect that relationship to remain complicated as the 36-year-old lines up on Wednesday.
Underdogs aim to prove themselves great Danes
Four teams make group stage debuts on matchday 1: Başakşehir, Krasnodar and Rennes kick off on Tuesday, while Midtjylland meet Atalanta in their opener on Wednesday. Denmark’s champions have had the longest journey; they made it through two qualifying rounds before beating Slavia Praha in the play-offs, coach Brian Priske saying: “Getting to the group stage is the ultimate.” Naturally, we agree. Enjoy it!