Saturday, October 1, 2022

Haaland faces Dortmund reunion and Potter makes Chelsea bow – Champions League in Opta numbers

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 13 Sep 2022

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There was no shortage of thrills and spills on matchday one of the Champions League, and Wednesday’s action promises more of the same as one of the world’s most in-form strikers faces his former club.

Erling Haaland has made a spectacular start to his Manchester City career, hitting 12 goals in all competitions since his move from Borussia Dortmund, but how will he fare when his old team visit the Etihad Stadium? 

Elsewhere, Graham Potter will hope to have an immediate impact in his first game as Chelsea’s head coach as they bid to bounce back from last week’s 1-0 defeat to Dinamo Zagreb.

Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, meanwhile, are among the favourites to be crowned European champions, and will both be hopeful of making it two wins from two outings.

Ahead of another intriguing set of European ties, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each game.

Manchester City v Borussia Dortmund

City striker Haaland netted 15 times in 13 Champions League appearances for Dortmund, and few would bet against the Norwegian haunting his former team on Wednesday.

Haaland helped himself to a brace at Sevilla last time out, bringing him to 25 Champions League goals in just 20 appearances – the highest tally managed by any player in their first 20 games in Europe’s premier club competition. 

The visit of BVB will represent a landmark outing for City boss Pep Guardiola, taking him to 150 Champions League games. Only five other coaches have reached that tally, while only two have earned more victories than Guardiola’s 94 – Alex Ferguson (102) and Carlo Ancelotti (99).

The omens are certainly good for the Premier League champions, who are unbeaten in their last 20 Champions League home games, winning 18 and drawing two. That represents the longest such sequence by an English side since Chelsea’s run of 21 without defeat between September 2006 and December 2009.

Dortmund, meanwhile, have not won at an English side in the competition since beating Arsenal 2-1 in October 2013.

Chelsea v Salzburg

Defeat to Dinamo Zagreb spelled the end of Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea reign last week, and Potter is the man entrusted to ensure they avoid back-to-back continental defeats when Salzburg visit.

Chelsea have never previously lost their opening two games of a Champions League campaign, and last lost consecutive games in the competition in 2019-20, when they were beaten by Bayern Munich in both legs of a last-16 tie.

This will be the first meeting between Chelsea and Salzburg, with the Blues only losing one of their previous four European ties against Austrian teams (W1 D2). Salzburg, meanwhile, have never beaten an English side in European competition in six attempts (D1 L5).

But the Blues will have to be wary of Matthias Jaissle’s young guns at Stamford Bridge, and may need to keep a particularly close eye on Noah Okafor. 

The 22-year-old has four goals in his last five Champions League outings for Salzburg – only Haaland (eight) has ever scored more for the club in the competition.

Real Madrid v RB Leipzig

Holders Madrid are looking to secure consecutive wins when they host RB Leipzig at the Santiago Bernabeu, and are unbeaten in their last 11 Champions League games against German opponents, scoring at least two goals in all of those matches (27 in total).

Leipzig, however, are unbeaten in their three European clashes with Spanish sides (W2 D1) and will be looking for a result comparable to their 2-1 quarter-final win over Atletico Madrid in 2019-20.

Los Blancos possess a remarkable amount of experience at the highest level; should Luka Modric feature, he will become the first 37-year-old outfield player to play a European Cup/Champions League game for Madrid since Ferenc Puskas in November 1965 against Kilmarnock.

Coach Ancelotti, meanwhile, is on the brink of his 100th win in the Champions League, and could become just the second boss to bring up such a century in the competition (after Alex Ferguson with 102).

Maccabi Haifa v Paris Saint-Germain

Kylian Mbappe scored a terrific brace to get PSG’s European campaign off to a flying start against Juventus, and a trip to Maccabi Haifa gives him the opportunity to make club history.

The striker has scored 29 goals in 45 Champions League outings with PSG, scoring against 14 of the 17 opponents he’s faced with the French champions. One more goal will see him level Edinson Cavani’s record of 30 goals in the competition for the Ligue 1 side.

He could be aided by the in-form Neymar, who has provided eight assists for Mbappe in the Champions League, more than any player has assisted another in the competition since the start of 2017-18.

The final member of their revered forward trio, Lionel Messi, also has his eyes on making history.

Messi has scored against 38 different teams in the Champions League, the same amount as his great rival Cristiano Ronaldo, and will be keen to claim the record outright when he faces Maccabi for the first time on Wednesday.

Other fixtures:

Rangers v Napoli

1 – Wednesday’s rearranged match will be the first competitive meeting between Rangers and Napoli. The Serie A side have only faced a Scottish team in European competition once before, exiting to Hibernian in the Fairs Cup in November 1967.

3 – Piotr Zielinski was directly involved in three of Napoli’s four goals as they thrashed Liverpool last week (two goals, one assist). This is already his best campaign for goal contributions in the competition since joining Napoli.  

Milan vs Dinamo Zagreb

6 – Milan have failed to win any of their last six home games in the Champions League (D3 L3), their longest run without a home victory in the competition.

31.8 – Dinamo Zagreb had just 31.8 per cent possession against Chelsea on matchday one, the lowest of any team who managed to avoid defeat in their opening game.

Shakhtar Donetsk v Celtic

3 – Shakhtar’s Mykhailo Mudryk was one of three players to be directly involved in three goals on matchday one (one goal, two assists), along with Robert Lewandowski and Zielinski.

1/13 – Celtic goalkeeper Joe Hart has only kept one clean sheet in his last 13 away Champions League games, with his last coming at Roma in December 2014 (for Manchester City).

Copenhagen v Sevilla

8 – Spanish sides are unbeaten in all eight of their Champions League games against Danish clubs (W6 D2) – only against sides from the Czech Republic (13) have Spanish teams appeared more often without defeat.

3/4 – Sevilla have lost three of their last four Champions League group-stage games (W1), as many as they lost in their previous 22 such matches (W10 D9).

Juventus v Benfica

2 – Juventus have lost their last two Champions League games. Only once in the history of the European Cup/Champions League have they lost three in a row, doing so between May 1968 and September 1972.

4 – Benfica’s Alejandro Grimaldo has been involved in four goals in his last four Champions League games (one goal, three assists), more than he was in his first 27 games in the competition (two goals, one assist).

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