European big guns begin battle for UCL glory

Updated: September 18, 2012

The battle commences tonight in Europe as footballs elite begin their quests to win the ultimate club prize, The Champions League, and 2BET2 will be with you throughout competition.

Chelsea begin their campaign to become the first team to win back-to-back Champions League titles on Wednesday when they entertain a Juventus side that are back in the elite following an iunbeaten season last year which saw them lift the Serie A title for the 28th time.

The Londoners ended a long wait to become kings of Europe for the first time by beating Bayern Munich on penalties on a memorable night in the German club’s Allianz Arena in May.

Chelsea have made a good start to their domestic season and are riding high at the top of the Premier League with three wins and one draw from their opening four games.

However, they have failed to win their last two matches, suffering an embarrassing 4-1 defeat by Atletico Madrid in the European Super Cup in Monaco and being held to a 0-0 draw at neighbours Queens Park Rangers in a feisty Premier League encounter on Saturday.

Juve come into the game with an unbeaten start to the season, and in Pirlo they have the perfect midfielder that can dictate proceedings on the biggest stage.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson vowed there would be no repeat of last season’s early Champions League exit as he prepared for Wednesday’s opening Group H fixture at home to Galatasaray.

The triple European champions failed to progress from the group stage in 2011-12 after suffering a shock 2-1 defeat by Swiss club Basle in their final fixture.

Ferguson’s side, playing in the competition for a record 18th time, will be without long-term injury victim Wayne Rooney on Wednesday but on the plus side they have a red-hot Robin van Persie ready to make his first European start for the club.

Van Persie has been in good form since leaving arch-rivals Arsenal in the close season and is already the joint top scorer in the Premier League with four goals, alongside Swansea City’s Michu.

Galatasaray are making their first appearance in the Champions League for six years.

The Turkish club have not won any of their seven away games against English teams but can count creditable draws against Manchester United, Liverpool and Leeds United in their record.

Tito Vilanova is quietly stamping his authority on the Barcelona team and they head into their Champions League Group G opener at home to Spartak Moscow on Wednesday with La Liga’s only perfect record.

Bayern Munich will be out to prove they have erased the bitter taste of last season’s Champions League final defeat by Chelsea when they host Spain’s Valencia in their opening Group F match on Wednesday.

Manchester City forward Sergio Aguero has recovered sufficiently from a knee injury to have a chance of featuring in Tuesday’s Champions League Group D opener at Real Madrid, in a clash of 2 league champions.

Real Madrid go into their Champions League tie against City full of doubts after an indifferent start to their La Liga campaign.

The 1-0 defeat at Sevilla on Saturday left Madrid with four points from four games, their worst La Liga start since the 2001-02 season.

Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny will miss Arsenal’s opening Champions League Group B tie at Montpellier on Tuesday because of an ankle injury.

Montpellier coach Rene Girard has called on the club’s fans to turn their stadium into “hell” for Tuesday’s Champions League opener against English powerhouses Arsenal.

Where Montpellier are appearing in Europe’s top club competition for the very first time, Arsenal have reached the group phase for the 15th season in succession and are looking to make the last 16 for the 13th campaign in a row.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic believes Paris Saint-Germain have the quality to make an impact on their return to the Champions League after an eight-year absence, but insisted their opening group-stage opponents Dynamo Kiev should not be underestimated.

The clubs meet at the Parc des Princes in Group A on Tuesday, and the level of expectation surrounding the French capital club is enormous after the extent of their summer spending on players such as Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi.

A full set of group stage fixtures are on the agenda tonight and tomorrow and 2BET2 brings you all the action.