Liverpool and Bayern Munich kick off campaigns with tough road trips – Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk September 06, 2022

The most decorated club competition in the world is back underway, and Wednesday's Champions League action promises some fireworks.

Winners in 2019-20, Bayern Munich will travel to the San Siro to take on Inter, while last year's runners-up Liverpool head to Napoli for a game they are favoured in.

Reigning Europa League champions Eintracht Frankfurt will look to keep up Germany's strong record against Portuguese teams when they host Sporting CP, and Harry Kane will be aiming to build on his superb European record as Tottenham host Marseille.

For a closer look, Stats Perform have dove into some interesting facts and nuggets about each matchup on Wednesday to give a clearer picture about how these clashes of champions may play out.

Inter v Bayern Munich

After their last Champions League run ended in a quarter-final loss to Villarreal, Bayern Munich will be desperate for a much improved result as they seek their seventh title, beginning their campaign away from home against Inter.

The sides have evenly split their seven previous European meetings, with three wins each and one draw, although it has been over a decade since their last Champions League fixture back in 2011.

While they do not have much recent history against Bayern in this competition, Inter's games against German opponents have turned into goal-fests, with 39 total goals (19 for, 20 against) in their past 10 matches.

Bayern have had much more success against Italian sides, going unbeaten in their past 10 (8W, 2D) – with their last loss coming in that 2011 battle with Inter, and the Nerazzurri were also the last side to keep a clean sheet against them in the 2010 final.

Romelu Lukaku will be a hard man to replace for the Italians as he will be absent after suffering a thigh injury. In his 16 European contests for Inter, he has 17 goal involvements (13 goals and four assists).

Napoli v Liverpool

This will be the third time in the past five seasons that Napoli and Liverpool have landed in the same Champions League group after back-to-back years in 2018-19 and 2019-20, with the Italian side winning all three of their home games.

Napoli have not featured in the last two editions of Europe's top competition, but they were a force in the group stage before their drought, with only one loss from their previous 12 matches (5W, 6D).

Mohamed Salah's seven goals in last season's group stage was the second-most ever in a group stage from a player on an English team, trailing only Ruud van Nistelrooy's eight during Manchester United's 2004-05 campaign. Salah is also one assist away from tying James Milner and Steven Gerrard for Liverpool's record number of assists in the Champions League (12).


Tottenham v Marseille

In the first ever competitive meeting between these two sides, Tottenham will likely be confident in their ability to get the job done at home against a Marseille side long removed from any Champions League success.

From their past 15 Champions League games, Marseille have only one win, against Olympiakos in 2020. English sides have given them particular trouble as well, as they have 12 losses against Premier League sides in their history in the competition – twice as many as against any other nation (six losses against Italian teams).

Harry Kane will be looking to add to his stellar European record, with 23 goal involvements (20 goals, three assists) in 24 career fixtures. Of all players with at least 20 Champions League goals, only Erling Haaland (64), Mario Gomez (102) and Lionel Messi (103.7) have a better minutes-per-goal figure than Kane's 104.4

Eintracht Frankfurt v Sporting CP

The reigning Europa League champions, Eintracht Frankfurt are making history with their first-ever Champions League berth, becoming the 14th German side to ever qualify – breaking the tie with Spain (13) for the most by any nation.

German sides have given Sporting trouble over the years, with 13 losses and one draw from 14 tries in European competition, with that emerging as a theme between the two nations.

Against all Portuguese sides, German teams are undefeated in their past 15 Champions League matches (13W, 2L) dating back to 2006.

After netting five times in last season's Europa League triumph to take his tally up to 11, Eintracht's Daichi Kamada can enter the club's record books as one of their top-three goalscorers in European competition with one more.

Other fixtures: 

Ajax v Rangers

20 - Ajax scored 20 goals in their six matches in last year's Champions League group stage, winning all six. It is the most goals they have ever scored in a Champions League group stage, before being eliminated by Benfica in the first knockout round.

19 - This will be Rangers' first Champions League appearance since 2010-11, and in their history, only Anderlecht (17 per cent) have a worse winning percentage in the competition than Rangers' 19 per cent. They have lost all four of their previous European meetings against Ajax.

Atletico Madrid v Porto

13 - This will be Atletico Madrid's 13th Champions League campaign, moving them past Valencia into the third-most for a Spanish side, trailing only Barcelona and Real Madrid (both 27). This is Atletico's 10th berth in a row, all under Diego Simeone.

26 - This is Porto's 26th Champions League, trailing only Barcelona and Real Madrid. If they were to be eliminated in the group stage this season, it would be the first time they failed to make it through the group stage in back-to-back campaigns since 1998.

Club Brugge v Bayer Leverkusen

1 - There has been only one win from a Belgian side against a German team in 24 Champions League meetings (18L, 5D) – and it was Brugge just last season, defeating RB Leipzig 2-1.

9 - Leverkusen have failed to win the opening match of their Champions League run the past nine times they have qualified (8L, 1D), with their last opening win coming in 2001.

Barcelona v Viktoria Plzen

33 - Barcelona striker Robert Lewandwoski is the top overall Champions League goal-scorer from the past three seasons, with 33 goals in 26 games. Last season, he netted nine goals in five home games,

24 - In their only two previous Champions League fixtures against Barcelona, Viktoria Plzen have averaged 24 per cent of the possession, and have lost the shot-count by a combined margin of 36-4.

Related items

  • Cameroon v Brazil: Much-changed Selecao pursuing group-stage perfection Cameroon v Brazil: Much-changed Selecao pursuing group-stage perfection

    Tite will rotate his Brazil squad for their final Group G match, but opponents Cameroon still face an uphill battle to make the last 16 of the World Cup.

    Brazil are already through to the knockout stage and will top the pool unless they lose and Switzerland win with a significant goal swing.

    Opponents Cameroon have plenty still to play for, on the other hand, as they must win to have any hope of reaching the second round for the first time since 1990.

    They have never won their final group game at a finals, however, while Brazil are unbeaten at this stage in a record 17 matches.

    And the Selecao have their own goals in mind, looking to take nine points from a possible nine for the first time since 2006.

    "Being first is always the goal, regardless of who the opponent is in the next match," said Fabinho, one of the men set to come into the XI.

    "Our focus is always to win the games, try to earn nine points and give our best. 

    "Whoever will play will have the opportunity to wear the shirt of the Brazilian national team in a World Cup, so the thought of a winning team has to always be this, to enter, give the best, win and be the first."

    Tite's first-choice stars have set a high standard, winning both games without conceding or even facing a single shot on target. They are the first team not to face a shot on target in their first two games at a World Cup since France in 1998.

    "Personally, I don't think [maintaining the standard] brings pressure to us," added Fabinho. "I think playing in a World Cup is every player's dream. It's a once-in-a-lifetime thing.

    "We have to face this with great joy, knowing the responsibility, come in and give our best. We know the way the team plays, the team is solid defensively.

    "Sure, you have the worries of keeping that, the ideas, but I don't think it adds pressure. We don't feel that."

    Cameroon have lost only two World Cup matches to South American teams, but both have been in their two meetings with Brazil, who have won all seven of their finals clashes with African opposition, scoring 20 goals and conceding just two.


    Cameroon – Vincent Aboubakar

    Aboubakar has twice appeared from the bench, yet he could hardly have done more to earn a starting berth. Against Serbia, he became the first substitute to both score and assist a goal in a World Cup match for an African nation, bringing Cameroon back from 3-1 down to 3-3 within 11 minutes of his introduction.

    Brazil – Vinicius Junior

    The Selecao may not need to risk playing Vinicius, with Neymar already injured, but it must be tough not to pick a man in this form. Only Kylian Mbappe (23) was involved in more open play sequences that ended with a shot than the winger (15) through two matchdays. Only Mbappe and Ismaila Sarr (four) created more chances following a carry (three).


    Even with the potential for changes in the Brazil XI, the supercomputer has no doubts about this one. Tite's men are massive 72.7 per cent favourites.

    Cameroon must win but are given only a 10.6 per cent chance, with a draw that would confirm Brazil as group winners rated at 16.7 per cent.

  • Serbia v Switzerland: Milinkovic-Savic happy with must-win situation Serbia v Switzerland: Milinkovic-Savic happy with must-win situation

    Serbia midfielder Sergej Milinkovic-Savic would have accepted knowing a win in their final Group G game against Switzerland would likely be enough to secure progression to the World Cup knockout stages.

    Dragan Stojkovic's side have taken just one point from their two games so far, coming in a 3-3 draw against Cameroon last time out, but are still in with a chance of going through, although they need Cameroon to lose to Brazil.

    Assuming that happens, a Serbia win would be enough with Switzerland requiring just a draw.

    They find themselves in a perilous position but Milinkovic-Savic insists it is not a surprise. Asked if he would have taken this situation beforehand, he said: "Of course. When we saw the draw and the schedule, we knew that everything would depend on the last game.

    "We need to take this opportunity with both hands."

    Serbia's draw with Cameroon was arguably an opportunity lost given they were leading 3-1 in the second half.

    Captain Dusan Tadic said: "It's certainly hard because we led 3-1 and you're not happy when you end up with a draw.

    "We created a lot of chances, but of course the goals we conceded should not happen. It starts with the midfield and the defence. We know now we need a win in the last round."

    Avoiding defeat is likely to be enough for the Swiss, but boss Murat Yakin will send his players out with clear instructions to try to win the game.

    He said: "We’ll have to find the right balance. I think we can be the dominant team, we’ve proven that in the past. It will be exciting, we'll need a good start. 

    "As a head coach, you can’t send out a team and tell them a draw is enough.

    "Of course we want to try to win this game, we know we have the skills and quality to do so. Hopefully we’ll be well prepared, and then I’m convinced we’ll be the dominant team, we will take more risks.

    "It will be an exciting game, we want to focus on football, everything else I don’t really care about."


    Serbia - Aleksandar Mitrovic

    The Fulham striker produced a mixed performance in the draw with Cameroon. While he was a nuisance all afternoon and scored a goal, he failed to capitalise on many of the chances that came his way. Twice in the first half he should have done better while he also missed another clear opportunity in the closing stages.

    He will need to improve markedly if Serbia are to get the win they require.

    Switzerland - Yann Sommer

    A clean sheet would likely guarantee Switzerland's progression, and Yakin will be reassured by the fact he can count on one of the tournament's in-form goalkeepers.

    Only two men have made more saves than Sommer's nine, the Netherlands' Andries Noppert (albeit from three matches rather than Sommer's two) and his opposite number on Friday, Vanja Milinkovic-Savic (12).


    Stats Perform's AI model believes all three outcomes are a distinct possibility with little to separate them.

    Serbia are ranked a 39 per cent chance to claim the three points they require, with Switzerland a 34.6 per cent chance. A draw comes in at 26.4 per cent. As is often the case, it will come down to fine margins - a mistake or a moment of genius.

  • Bullish Regragui predicting great things for Morocco Bullish Regragui predicting great things for Morocco

    Morocco coach Walid Regragui believes his team are capable of "great things" after becoming the first African team in 24 years to top a World Cup group.

    The Atlas Lions finished first in Group F after beating Canada 2-1 at Al Thumama Stadium while the other pool game, between Croatia and Belgium, ended goalless.

    First-half goals from Hakim Ziyech and Youssef En-Nesyri proved enough with Nayef Aguerd's own goal - the first of the tournament - nothing more than a consolation for a Canada side who return home without a point.

    Regragui said: "We set ourselves an objective of giving everything we’ve got and trying to get past the group stage. We’ve done that, so why not aim for the sky?

    "We’re not going to stop here, we are a very difficult team to beat, so why not dream of lifting the trophy?

    "Let's not get carried away but, if we are fighting fit, we know we are capable of great things."

    After a dominant first-half performance, Morocco went into their shells in the second but determination and a little luck – Canada substitute Atiba Hutchinson planting a header off the underside of the bar – saw them through.

    Regragui added: "It wasn’t easy and when you have this kind of opportunity to make history you think about it.

    "I thought the first half display was the best we have had in a long time. It was a shame that we allowed that own goal as it shook us. In the second half, there was pressure on us but I loved it."

    Regragui was only appointed at the end of August and Paris Saint-Germain full-back Achraf Hakimi had nothing but praise for the 47-year-old.

    He said: "The coach has done an amazing job. He hasn’t had much time but he’s formed an amazing group. We trust in him."

    For Canada, Thursday represented the end of a remarkable journey that saw them top the final round of CONCACAF qualifying ahead of Mexico and the United States to reach their first World Cup in 36 years.

    English coach John Herdman said: "It’s the first time in a long time that we’ve got here and we’d like to have been here longer.

    "We’ve enjoyed the ride, our players have turned up to compete, we’ve been fearless and we’ve had something to celebrate in every game. We’re a young team and we’re developing.

    "As a football country we can be proud of the performance and the external world will be talking positively about Canada. We were front-footed and fearless.

    "We raised the bar by finishing top of the CONCACAF group and we were two inches away tonight from getting our first point. We had the penalty against Belgium and battled all the way through against Croatia.

    "The stats will tell you we weren’t far away. We’ll ask the hard questions as we head towards 2026 but this is not Canada walking away with our heads down, we can keep our heads up."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.