Matchday three of the Champions League is upon us as teams reach the halfway point of the 2020-21 group stage, and Wednesday's action sees plenty of the heavyweights hoping to take advantage of theoretically weaker opposition.

Juventus were beaten by Barcelona last time out in the competition, but this time Andrea Pirlo will be able to rely on the services of Cristiano Ronaldo, who will no doubt be licking his lips at the prospect of facing leaky Ferencvaros.

Similarly, Barca will be strong favourites as they face Dynamo Kiev, while Manchester United go to Istanbul Basaksehir and Chelsea host Rennes.

However, Paris Saint-Germain could find themselves in a particularly tricky situation if they lose at an RB Leipzig smarting from their crushing by United.

Here is some of the key data from Wednesday's matchday three match-ups.

Barcelona v Dynamo Kiev: Messi and Griezmann poles apart

Although Barcelona are perhaps no longer the force we expect them to be, there is no doubt they will be firm favourites here, with the Catalans unbeaten in their previous 22 group games, while they could win five first-phase matches in a row for the first time since October 2017.

Lionel Messi's form early on this season has led to some criticism, but few have the pedigree he has and he boasts 20 goals in his previous 24 Champions League appearances.

Contrast that with the much-maligned Antoine Griezmann, however. The Frenchman has just two goals in 10 Champions League games for Barca, one every 373 minutes – he netted once every 190 minutes on average for Atletico Madrid.

Ferencvaros v Juventus: Ronaldo licking his lips

Juve were without talismanic forward Ronaldo in their previous two group games against Dynamo and Barca, the latter of whom beat the Old Lady – therefore he will be hoping to make up for lost time against Ferencvaros, whose seven goals conceded is the worst in the competition.

In that game against Barca, Juve failed to muster a single shot on target – aside from the three goals Alvaro Morata had chalked off for offside.

A defeat for Juve in Hungary would be a huge shock, but if it does happen, it will be the first time the Bianconeri have lost successive group games since October 2014. Coach Pirlo played in the second loss back then.

Istanbul Basaksehir v Manchester United: Red Devils on course as Greenwood eyes history

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was asked in his pre-match news conference if United felt more confident travelling to Istanbul knowing they would not be facing a vociferous crowd – after all, the Red Devils have lost on each of their previous two trips to Turkey.

United have struggled domestically of late, losing most recently to Arsenal on Sunday, but Champions League wins over RB Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain have them in fine shape in Europe – no team has ever failed to qualify after winning their first two group games, an omen they should not ignore here.

Marcus Rashford was the hero against Leipzig, but Mason Greenwood also netted to level his team-mate as the most prolific English teenager in UEFA competition with six goals. The 19-year-old will set a new record with another in Istanbul.

RB Leipzig v Paris Saint-Germain: Germans desperate to bounce back

Leipzig's 5-0 annihilation by United last time was their worst ever European defeat and the heaviest suffered by a German team since 2014 – Wednesday's match gives them the chance to bounce back against the team that beat them in the semi-finals last season.

PSG, of course, have plenty of attacking talents for Leipzig to contend with, though arguably chief among them will be Kylian Mbappe, who has been directly involved in 22 away goals in the competition (14 goals, eight assists), which is more than anyone else since his first trip back in February 2017.

But the omens are not all great for PSG. There has only been one previous instance in the Champions League where a German coach has won away to a side managed by another German tactician.

 

Other fixtures:

Chelsea v Rennes

15 - Chelsea have only suffered one defeat in their previous 15 home games in the group stage of the UEFA Champions League (0-1 v Valencia last season), winning nine and drawing the other five games in this run.

3 - Hakim Ziyech scored his first goal for Chelsea in the Champions League on MD2, while he could become just the third player to score on his first two starts for the club in the competition after Didier Drogba in 2004 and Daniel Sturridge in 2010.

Sevilla v Krasnodar

13 - Including qualifiers, Sevilla are unbeaten in their previous 13 home games across all European competitions (W11 D2), with their last such defeat coming in April 2018 against Bayern Munich (1-2 in a Champions League quarter-final).

1 - Only one Russian side has ever won away at Sevilla in European competition, with CSKA Moscow prevailing 2-1 in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League in 2009-10.

Zenit v Lazio

4 - Zenit are hoping to avoid losing four consecutive games in the European Cup/Champions League for the first time in their history.

1 - Lazio will be aiming for their first away win in the Champions League since September 2003 (2-0 v Besiktas), having failed to win on any of their previous six trips in the competition (D2 L4).

Club Brugge v Borussia Dortmund

12 - Only Robert Lewandowski (15) has scored more Champions League goals than Dortmund's Erling Haaland (12) since the start of last season, with the Norwegian striker converting 12 of his 17 shots on target in the competition so far.

1 - Brugge goalkeeper Simon Mignolet has only ended on the winning side in one of his 13 appearances in the Champions League, drawing six and losing six of his 12 games since winning on his debut in the competition for Liverpool in September 2014 (2-1 v Ludogorets).

Juventus' Champions League defeat to Barcelona helped them understand where they need to improve, said Andrea Pirlo, who believes playing the Blaugrana early in the competition was a positive for his side.

The Bianconeri visit Ferencvaros on Wednesday, looking to bounce back from a 2-0 loss to Barca on home soil last week.

Pirlo's men did not have a shot on target, although Alvaro Morata saw three goals ruled out for offside, and the legendary former Juve and Italy midfielder feels the game served as a valuable learning experience for his team.

Asked about the meeting with Ronald Koeman's side, Pirlo said: "They made us understand that we need to improve, that to play certain types of matches we need to have more determination and organisation. 

"We knew we were meeting a great team and maybe meeting them so soon did us good. 

"We will work to improve and play a great match when we go to them."

In Ferencvaros, Juve are facing a side who have conceded seven goals in two games, the most of any side in the competition, and will have Cristiano Ronaldo in the squad after he missed out on the Barca clash due to his COVID-19 diagnosis.

However, Pirlo is keen not to underestimate the Hungarian side, with Juve having last lost back-to-back Champions League group-stage games in 2014.

He added: "We have studied Ferencvaros. They are a quality team and they have had two good games in the Champions League in which they deserved more.

"They have a good game plan and excellent attacking players."

There will be fans in the stands in Budapest, a scenario largely alien to players during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, Juve prevailed with spectators present in their opening Group G game with Dynamo Kiev, and Pirlo expects having a crowd to benefit his players.

He said: "Having fans here tomorrow will also be a positive factor for us, because it helps us to raise our focus."

Barcelona travel to fellow heavyweights Juventus in the pick of the second round of Champions League group-stage fixtures on Wednesday.

Cristiano Ronaldo will not get the chance to resume his rivalry with Lionel Messi after contracting coronavirus, but a number of other superstars will be on the field at Allianz Stadium.

Juve and Barca picked up victories in their opening games and that was also the case for Manchester United, who triumphed away at Paris Saint-Germain and now welcome RB Leipzig to Old Trafford.

PSG head to Turkey for their first competitive meeting with Istanbul Basaksehir while Chelsea, held by Europa League champions Sevilla in their first game, face a potentially tricky trip of their own at competition debutants Krasnodar.

Here is some of the key Opta data from day two of matchday two.

Juventus v Barcelona: Milestone victory in sight for Juve

Juventus' tally of six home games without losing to Barcelona is their joint-best total against any team in European competition, alongside another LaLiga side in Atletico Madrid.

Barca are unbeaten in six games against Italian opposition in the Champions League, however, and have only suffered defeat once in their last 17 away games in the competition.

Should Juve come out on top in Turin, it will be their landmark 100th victory in UEFA's showpiece competition in what will be their 200th game.


Krasnodar v Chelsea: Blues target first win

After drawing 0-0 with Sevilla in their opener, Chelsea are looking to avoid going back-to-back games without a win to begin a Champions League campaign since the 1999-2000 season.

The London club have lost only one of their last 11 away games in European competition, though that came in their last outing - a 4-1 loss to Bayern Munich.

None of the previous six Russian sides to have competed in the Champions League have won their first home game, which Krasnodar will be looking to put right on Wednesday.


Manchester United v RB Leipzig: More German joy for Red Devils?

United have gone 10 home games without being beaten by German opposition in European competition since a 1-0 loss against Bayern Munich in 2001, winning seven of those.

However, the Red Devils have lost four of their last six Champions League matches at Old Trafford - as many as in their previous 71 games combined.

Leipzig beat Tottenham home and away last season - their only previous encounters with an English team - and are unbeaten in five away games in the competition.

 

Nothing better than a sunny day!pic.twitter.com/leyNYvGTWm

— Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_English) October 26, 2020 Istanbul Basaksehir v Paris Saint-Germain: Away-day specialist Mbappe

Basaksehir have won three of their last four home matches in European competition but this will be the first occasion they have hosted Champions League football.

On the back of their loss to United last week, PSG are out to avoid successive defeats to begin a group campaign for the first time since the 2004-05 campaign.

Kylian Mbappe played a key part in his side's run to the final last term and has been directly involved in 20 goals in his 16 away Champions League appearances. He has registered at least one goal or assist in 13 of those 16 away appearances.

 

Other fixtures:

Sevilla v Rennes:

12 - Sevilla are unbeaten in 12 home games in European competition since a 2-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich in April 2018.

2 - Only two of the 10 previous French sides to have played in the Champions League have won their first ever away match - PSG and Auxerre in 1994 and 1996 respectively.

Borussia Dortmund v Zenit:

6 - Zenit are winless in their last six European matches against teams from Germany, stretching back to a 2-1 victory against this week's opponents Dortmund in March 2014.

3 - Dortmund have won three Champions League home games in a row and are looking to make it four on the spin for the first time since a run of seven between September 2012 and October 2013.

Club Brugge v Lazio:

4 - Brugge have scored only four goals in their last 12 matches with Italian opposition and are winless in their last nine meetings with clubs from the Peninsula.

5 - Lazio have lost their last five away games on the continent, all of which came in the Europa League in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

Ferencvaros v Dynamo Kiev:

3 - Dynamo have won just three of their last 24 away games in the Champions League, drawing three of their last four.

24 - Ferencvaros kept a clean sheet in their first home game in the competition but have since shipped 24 goals across their last six matches, giving them the highest goals-conceded-per-game ratio of any team to have played in more than one campaign.

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