Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 15th 2014 Contents MANCHESTER---Real Madrid ended a 12-year wait
for La Decima---a tenth European Cup---by winning
the Champions League last season.
Now the Spanish club has a new target: Achieving
what no team has managed in 25 years---retaining
The Champions League returns this week, with
Madrid s all-star lineup seemingly the team to beat
again this season ahead of its first match at home
against FC Basel on Tuesday in Group B.
No team has successfully defended Europe s most
prestigious club title since AC Milan in 1990, before
the competition underwent a facelift and turned
into the financial beast that is the Champions
As in recent years, Barcelona, Bayern Munich
and Chelsea will be among the favorites to challenge
for the title.
Here are some things to know about the start of
the 2014-15 Champions League:
With four strong teams involved, Spain is aiming
to continue its run of outperforming the other
major European leagues in the Champions League.
Spain put two teams into last year s final, when
Madrid beat crosstown rival Atletico Madrid 4-1
after extra time, and has had two sides in the semi-
finals for the past four seasons. Barcelona won the
title in 2011.
Like Madrid, Atletico begins its campaign tomor-
row at Olympiakos in Group A. On Wednesday,
Barcelona plays APOEL in Group F and Athletic
Bilbao hosts Shakhtar Donetsk in Group H.
Counting on Costa
If the start of the Premier League season is any-
thing to go by, Chelsea will be England s most com-
petitive side in the Champions League.
Especially if Diego Costa keeps up his stunning
form. The Spain international s seven goals in four
games have guided Chelsea to four straight wins
and first place in the Premier League.
Chelsea has been given the most benign-looking
group of England s four representatives, too, placed
with Schalke, Sporting Lisbon and NK Maribor.
Chelsea starts at home against Schalke on Wednes-
day in Group G.
Manchester City advanced from its group last
season for the first time, losing in the last 16 to
BARCELONA---Valencia eased by Espanyol 3-1 at
home yesterday to remain unbeaten in the Spanish
league under new coach Nuno Espirito Santo and
continue its turnaround during a drawn-out sale
of the club.
Sevilla also extended its unbeaten start to the
league with a trouble-free 2-0 win at home over
Getafe, while Elche won 3-2 at Rayo Vallecano for
its first victory of the season.
Valencia and Sevilla pulled level with Atletico
Madrid in a share of second place, two points behind
leader Barcelona. Real Madrid lags six points
behind Barcelona after losing 2-1 to Atletico on
Valencia s Pablo Piatti scored from a pass by new
forward Rodrigo Moreno to put the hosts ahead in
the seventh minute at Mestalla Stadium.
Midfielder Dani Parejo slotted in Valencia s second
in the 63rd, followed by new Spain striker Paco
Alcacer s goal in the 73rd to seal the win.
Espanyol s Sergio Garcia earned a penalty kick
that he converted in stoppage time for the conso-
The highly indebted Valencia is being purchased
by Singapore tycoon Peter Lim. The club made
several offseason signings, including Alvaro Negredo
from Manchester City, who is recovering from injury
and has yet to debut.
Espanyol is winless through three rounds.
Barcelona. The English champions, who
travel to Bayern on Wednesday in Group
E, will be expected to progress further this
Juve's real test
New Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri
may have started winning over his doubters
with two wins out of two in Serie A, but
the real test will come in the Champions
League. Under Antonio Conte, Juventus
won a third straight Italian league title last
season but exited Europe s elite club com-
petition at the group stage.
At AC Milan, Allegri won just 11 of his
34 Champions League matches in charge,
drawing another 13, and never went past
Juventus, which hosts Malmo in Group
A on Tuesday, started its domestic cam-
paign with a 1-0 win at Chievo Verona
and a 2-0 victory at home to Udinese on
France s two Champions League teams---
Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco---have
experienced strikers facing their former
clubs in the first round of fixtures.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored so many
wonderful goals for PSG and Sweden over
the past two years, he may well have lost
count. PSG plays Ajax in Group F on
Wednesday and the Dutch hosts will be
hoping Ibrahimovic isn t in the mood for
another goal on the same ground where
he scored one of his best ever.
Ten years ago, when playing for Ajax,
Ibrahimovic scored a mesmerizing solo
effort against NAC Breda---dribbling past
several players before caressing the ball
Madrid turns sights on Champions League
Valencia stays undefeated
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, September 15, 2014
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