The UEFA Champions League is Back!

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The UEFA Champions League is Back!

Today heralds the return of the UEFA Champions League, and with a mouth-watering set of fixtures lined up for match day one it shouldn't disappoint.

Top of the bill is Marseille vs. Liverpool at the Stade Velodrome.  Last season, the Reds needed a win here in order to progress to the second phase, and they delivered with a resounding 4-0 victory.

Marseille will be looking to avenge this, and continue their unbeaten start to the season.  They will welcome back midfielder Mathieu Valbuena from injury, who scored against Liverpool early last season in a 1-0 victory at Anfield. 

Rafa Benitez has Steven Gerrard and Fernando Torres at his disposal again after both were out injured during the international break, however Javier Mascherano could be rested after picking up a knock against Manchester United.

Chelsea also face French opposition, at home to Bordeaux.  Luis Felipe Scolari could have Michael Ballack back from injury, however Michael Essien is out for the long term and Dider Drogba is suspended.

Former Manchester United defender Laurent Blanc currently manages Bordeaux and admits that Chelsea are a better side on paper, but he believes his team can overturn last season's finalists.

Also in Group A, Romanian champions CFR Cluj have a baptism of fire for their first Champions League outing away at Roma. 

However, the Italian side lost their league fixture last weekend, and are without midfielder Simone Perrotta and defender Juan.  Francesco Totti is expected to play a part.

In Group B, Panithanikos host Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan and Werder Bremen are at home to Anorthosis, another team making their debut in the Champions League.  They are the first Cypriot side to ever make an appearance in Europe's premier club competition and are managed by former Newcastle United player Temuri Ketsbaia. 

The bald-headed Ketsbaia is probably best remembered for giving the advertising boards at St James's Park a good kicking after scoring in a vital league game ten years ago.

In Group C, Basel face Shakhtar Donetsk and Barcelona host Sporting Lisbon.  Barca have had their worst league start to a season for 35 years, so Sporting will fancy their chances. 

Finally in Liverpool's group, (Group D) PSV Eindhoven are at home to Athletco Madrid.  Dutch side PSV have gained maximum points in their league campaign so far, and are hoping to continue their good form against the Spanish outfit.

Wednesday previews to follow tomorrow.

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