Ronaldo poised for record as Chelsea prepare for king-slayers Juventus – Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk September 29, 2021

Manchester United need points to get their Champions League campaign going, and doing so by getting revenge for their Europa League final shoot-out loss to Villarreal would be a moment to enjoy for the Old Trafford fans.

When it comes to established elite needing results, United are not alone. Barcelona head to Benfica looking to banish thoughts of that humbling home loss to Bayern Munich on matchday one, while Massimiliano Allegri could use a strong performance against strong opposition when Chelsea visit Juventus.

Bayern themselves host Dynamo Kiev, as Mircea Lucescu looks to fare a little better than the last time he took a team to the Allianz Arena.

Read on for more as Stats Perform looks at the key Opta facts ahead of Wednesday's Champions League action.

 

Benfica v Barcelona: Can Memphis Depay breathe life back into Catalans?

Barcelona's 3-0 loss to Bayern Munich on matchday one was the first time in at least 186 Champions League matches in which they did not attempt a single shot on target.

Memphis Depay did not manage a shot of any kind, something he had never before experienced when starting a game in this competition. However, with two goals in his previous two games against Benfica, he could be the man to get Barca firing in Lisbon.

Benfica have not beaten Barcelona since the European Cup final in 1961, but if they do manage to pile more pressure on Ronald Koeman with a victory, it will mark the first time the Blaugrana have lost their opening two games of the season in Europe since 1972-73, when they lost twice to Porto.

Bayern Munich v Dynamo Kiev: More unhappy memories beckon for Lucescu

The Allianz Arena was the scene of Lucescu's heaviest Champions League defeat: his Shakhtar Donetsk side lost 7-0 to Bayern Munich in March 2015.

Having failed to score in seven of their previous 11 games in this competition, it is hard to expect Dynamo to stop Bayern from claiming what would be a 33rd home win out of their most recent 35 in the group stages.

In fact, across the past three seasons, Bayern have won the most games (20) and scored the most goals (73) of any team in the tournament. In 14 of their 22 games in that time, they have netted at least three goals.

 

Juventus v Chelsea: Bianconeri out to keep up king-slayer tradition

Juventus have won seven matches against the holders in this competition's history, a figure only Real Madrid can beat (11 wins). They also beat Chelsea 3-0 in their previous meeting back in the 2012-13 group stage.

Still, Chelsea have only lost three of their past 32 group games and none of their most recent 12. Thomas Tuchel's 68 per cent win ratio is bettered by only two men among managers to take charge of 20 or more group games: Pep Guardiola (71 per cent) and Jupp Heynckes (73 per cent).

The last time Juve hosted an English team in the Champions League, Jose Mourinho's Manchester United snatched a 2-1 win in November 2018. Massimiliano Allegri's side have never lost consecutive home games to English opponents.

 

Manchester United v Villarreal: Goals at last in Europa League final repeat?

All five previous European meetings between Manchester United and Villarreal have ended in draws. The first four did not even see a goal scored – it's the most played Champions League match never to see a goal – while the Europa League final last season finished 1-1, with the LaLiga side winning 11-10 on penalties.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is the only manager to take charge of 10 or more Champions League matches at an English club and lose more than half of them (he's lost seven out of 11). Should they suffer defeat at Old Trafford, it will mark the first time in history they have ever lost their first two European games of a season.

If he plays, Cristiano Ronaldo will break Iker Casillas' record of 177 Champions League appearances. However, he has failed to score in four games against Villarreal in the competition – only against Lille and Benfica has he played as many times without finding the net.

Other fixtures:

Atalanta v Young Boys

30 – Atalanta's 30 Champions League goals have all been scored by non-Italians. They have netted more goals without any coming from a player of the nationality of the club he's representing in Champions League history. Young Boys have scored six times in the competition, but none has come from a Swiss player.

17 – David Wagner's side had 17 more shots than Manchester United in their opening-round win (19 vs 2). The last time a coach saw his team have that many more attempts than their opponents in his first game in charge was when Hansi Flick's Bayern Munich had 27 shots to Olympiacos' three in November 2019.

Zenit v Malmo

1 – Zenit have only taken one point from their previous eight group-stage matches and have lost four of their past seven home games in European competition.

8 – No team faced more shots on target than Malmo on matchday one of this campaign (eight against Juventus), while their xG against total of 3.5 was the most of any team in the opening round.

Salzburg v Lille

40 – This will be Lille's 40th Champions League match. They only won six of their first 39 - only Dinamo Zagreb (five) and FCSB (four) have ever won fewer than eight of their first 40 games in the competition.

35 – Although 10 of Salzburg's starting XI against Sevilla last time out were aged 24 or younger, they also included 35-year-old Andreas Ulmer, who was two years and 158 days older than his coach, Matthias Jaissle. It's the first time a player has been over two years older than their manager in a Champions League match since Naldo for Schalke in December 2018 under Domenico Tedesco (three years and two days older).

Wolfsburg v Sevilla

3.7 – Wolfsburg's previous six games against Spanish opponents in European competition have seen a total of 22 goals scored (11 for, 11 against), at an average of 3.7 per game.

7 – Sevilla are unbeaten in their past seven away games in this competition (W3 D4), their longest ever unbeaten run away from home in the European Cup/Champions League. They last suffered defeat on the road in October 2017, losing 5-1 away to Spartak Moscow.

Related items

  • Messi reportedly close to agreement with MLS franchise Inter Miami Messi reportedly close to agreement with MLS franchise Inter Miami

    Lionel Messi is close to an agreement to join MLS franchise Inter Miami at the end of the 2022-23 European season, according to a report in The Times.

    The Argentina superstar is out of contract with Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the campaign and has been continually linked with a return to Barcelona, whom he left in 2021, but The Times reports Messi will instead move to MLS.

    Inter Miami are said to be 'confident' Messi will sign following the conclusion of the World Cup in Qatar, where he has scored in both of Argentina's group stage matches, though he would not move until the conclusion of PSG's season.

    Co-owned by David Beckham, Inter Miami will reportedly make Messi the highest-paid player in MLS history and they are considering further additions to complement his arrival.

    Luis Suarez and Cesc Fabregas, Messi's former team-mates at Barcelona, are specifically named as options, the former having enjoyed a brief second stint Uruguayan side Nacional earlier this year while Fabregas is in the Italian second tier with Como.

    A move for Messi would occur midway through the MLS season, which begins in February, and would provide a huge boost to North American soccer ahead of the World Cup in 2026, which the USA will host alongside Canada and Mexico.

  • Croatia 4-1 Canada: Russia finalists hit form to eliminate inexperienced entertainers Croatia 4-1 Canada: Russia finalists hit form to eliminate inexperienced entertainers

    Canada were eliminated from the World Cup after just two matches despite again playing their part in an entertaining encounter as Croatia won 4-1 at Khalifa International Stadium.

    Back at the finals after 36 years away, Canada thrilled in their opening game against Belgium, only to be narrowly beaten.

    It looked to be a similar story again on Sunday, although Croatia were ultimately deserving winners after two goals from Andrej Kramaric and one each from Marko Livaja and Lovro Majer overturned an early Canada lead.

    Alphonso Davies' opener was his country's first goal at a World Cup, but five defeats from five ends their hopes of progression as Croatia join Morocco on four points in Group F.

    That wait for a breakthrough goal extended only 67 seconds into Canada's fifth finals match, with Davies meeting Tajon Buchanan's cross to head the fastest goal of the tournament so far.

    Croatia soon took control, however, and after Milan Borjan twice denied Livaja either side of a disallowed Kramaric goal, two goals ahead of half-time turned the game on its head.

    Borjan had no answer to Kramaric, who squeezed in another finish, and Livaja got his goal with a low effort from the edge of the box.

    John Herdman's men came out for the second half with renewed optimism and went close through both substitute Jonathan Osorio and Jonathan David, but Kramaric continued to threaten and clinically picked out the bottom-left corner to settle it.

    There was time for Croatia to add further gloss as poor Kamal Miller miscontrolled on halfway and gave Mislav Orsic a clear run to advance and unselfishly square to Majer.

    What does it mean? Canada prove unsuccessful entertainers

    Canada's tennis team clinched Davis Cup glory just before kick-off, and their countrymen did not have to wait long to celebrate again. After 50 shots without success across their prior four World Cup games, their 51st found the net through Davies.

    But Croatia were themselves more effective in attack than Belgium had been and recovered from that setback to win comfortably, picking holes in the Canada defence with consummate ease.

    Kramaric leads comeback

    Kramaric showed his class in scoring with two of five attempts, displaying the sort of ruthless touch in front of goal that would have delivered Canada victory against Belgium, if not in this game.

    This was the second match at this tournament to see a team concede first but lead before half-time, the other seeing Croatia's 2018 final conquerors France rally past Australia.

    Such a swift turnaround did not occur once over the previous five World Cups combined.

    Centurion looks his age

    It is rare Luka Modric, at 37, is some way short of being the oldest man in a midfield battle, but Atiba Hutchinson, at 39, is the second-oldest outfield player to play at a World Cup.

    While Hutchinson also became the first player to appear 100 times for Canada on Sunday, all that experience could not make up for a lack of pace that gave Croatia the run of the midfield.

    What's next?

    Canada are out but can still impact the rest of the group, facing Morocco as Croatia play Belgium in a winner-takes-all meeting on Thursday.

  • Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Saiss and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win Belgium 0-2 Morocco: Saiss and Aboukhlal sink Red Devils for famous World Cup win

    A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

    Victory for Roberto Martinez's side would have seen the 2018 semi-finalists become the second side to book their spot in the knockout stage, alongside France, but the Red Devils fell short.

    Having seen a first-half free-kick from Hakim Ziyech disallowed, the same tactic provided dividends in the second period as Abdelhamid Sabiri's dangerous ball took a slight touch off team-mate Romain Saiss to put Morocco on course for just a third win in their World Cup history.

    The win was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after Ziyech's fine work to leave Group F wide open with one round of games to go.

    Belgium saw the majority of possession early on and dictated play, Michy Batshuayi forcing an early save from Munir Mohamedi, who came into the side as a very late change for Yassine Bounou.

    Having been on the back foot for the majority, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time as Ziyech's free-kick found its way into the net, but Saiss was offside and adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois' line of sight.

    Lightning struck twice for Martinez's side after the break, as Sabiri whipped in a dangerous free-kick from the left to the near post which found its way past Courtois via a faint touch off Saiss, who was awarded the goal, with no offside flag to save Belgium this time.

    Any hope of a late fightback from Belgium was wiped away in added time, Ziyech winning the ball off a poor touch from Axel Witsel and teeing up Aboukhlal to smash home.

     

    What does it mean? Belgium's fine run ends

    Winning their past eight group-stage matches at the World Cup, victory would have seen Belgium set an outright record in that regard, while they had not lost at this stage of the tournament since 1994.

    Morocco, with just two wins from 17 previous fixtures at the tournament (D6, L9), were largely unfancied before a ball was kicked in a group that contained two semi-finalists from Russia 2018, but they have avoided defeat against both.

    A famous triumph inflicted Belgium's first ever defeat to an African nation at the World Cup, and Morocco now just need a point against Canada to reach the knockout stage for the first time since 1986.

    Moroccan magic

    Heading into the game, Morocco had failed to score in 53 per cent of their World Cup matches (9/17), which stood as the joint-highest percentage of any nation to have played at least 10 matches in the tournament.

    While chances from open play were limited, Morocco's effectiveness from set-pieces proved crucial, with the same move against Belgium working twice – though the first was ruled out.

    Disappointing De Bruyne

    Usually one to pull the strings in midfield, Morocco's fine organisation left Kevin De Bruyne's influence on the match being limited, the Manchester City man creating just one chance for his team during the game.

    De Bruyne ended up being the man at the end of attacking sequences for Martinez's side, with more shots (three) than any of his team-mates but failing to hit the target with any, while also losing possession on a game-high 27 occasions.

    Key Opta facts

    - Belgium have lost seven of their past 19 matches in all competitions (W9 D3), as many defeats as they had suffered across their previous 74 games combined (W57 D10).
    - Morocco's victory over Belgium was their first win in five games at the World Cup (D2 L2). Meanwhile, it was the first time that they had recorded consecutive clean sheets at the World Cup since 1986.
    - Belgium are just the third side to lose their 50th game at the World Cup, after England in 2002 (v Brazil) and Spain in 2010 (v Switzerland), though the latter went on to win the tournament that year.
    - The Red Devils have only scored fewer goals after two games at a World Cup once before (none in 1930) – they had scored eight goals across their first two games in 2018.

    What's next?

    Morocco tackle Canada in their final group match on Thursday, knowing a draw will be enough to secure a spot in the knockout stage, while Belgium lock horns with Croatia on the same day.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.