Paris Saint-Germain can make an early statement in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League by beating Real Madrid in Group A at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday night.
However, the Ligue 1 giants will have to do it without Neymar, who is serving a suspension due to his criticism of match officials on Instagram after Manchester United dumped PSG out of last season's tournament in the last 16. The ban was reduced to two matches on Tuesday, per BBC Sport, but Neymar will still miss the visit of Real.
To make matter worse, his fellow striker Kylian Mbappe is also dealing with a thigh problem.
Meanwhile, Manchester City will begin the Champions League campaign with plenty of injuries in defence. John Stones has joined fellow centre-back Aymeric Laporte on the shelf for a tricky trip to Shakhtar Donetsk.
City's Premier League rivals Tottenham Hotspur will be expected to beat Olympiakos in Athens. However, it's tougher to choose a winner between Atletico Madrid and Juventus.
Cristiano Ronaldo has been the bane of Atleti in recent years, and he'll be expected to help Juve improve on last season's exit at the quarter-final stage.
Wednesday Fixtures and TV Schedule
- Club Brugge vs. Galatasaray: 5:55 p.m. BST/12:55 p.m. ET (BT Sport 1) (1-1)
- Olympiakos vs. Tottenham Hotspur: 5:55 p.m. BST/12:55 p.m. ET (BT Sport 2/TNT) (1-2)
- Paris Saint-Germain vs. Real Madrid: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET (BT Sport 2/TNT) (1-1)
- Bayern Munich vs. Red Star Belgrade: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET (4-1)
- Dinamo Zagreb vs. Atalanta: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET (2-2)
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Manchester City: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET (BT Sport 3) (1-2)
- Bayer Leverkusen vs. Lokomotiv Moscow: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET (2-0)
- Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus: 8 p.m. BST/3 p.m. ET (BT Sport ESPN) (1-3)
Odds (Per Caesars)
- Club Brugge: -115 (bet $100 to win $86.96) Galatasaray: +310 (bet $100 to win $310) Draw: +270
- Olympiakos: +325 Tottenham: -110 Draw: +240
- Paris Saint-Germain: +125 Real Madrid: +205 Draw: 260
- Bayern Munich: -1650 Red Star: +2900 Draw: +1150
- Dinamo Zagreb: +265 Atalanta: +105 Draw: +245
- Shakhtar Donetsk: +900 Manchester City: -350 Draw: +480
- Bayer Leverkusen: -290 Lokomotiv Moscow: +870 Draw: 380
- Atletico Madrid: +145 Juventus: +220 Draw: +205
PSG To Earn a Point Against Real
Neymar's ban has been reduced from three games to a pair of matches. Yet his loss will still be keenly felt, especially since Mbappe is expected to miss out, along with centre-forward Edinson Cavani:
Those absences leave PSG boss Thomas Tuchel scrambling for solutions. The onus will be on former Inter Milan No. 9 Mauro Icardi, acquired this summer, or Eric Choupo-Moting, to lead the line.
They will need the supply of former Real schemer Angel Di Maria, while ex-Everton enforcer Idrissa Gueye will be challenged with disrupting the hosts' attempts to build attacks.
This is far the from the Real squad that won this title three years in a row under Zinedine Zidane before last season. However, Zidane can still count on fellow Frenchman Karim Benzema for goals:
City to Edge Past Shakhtar Despite Injuries
City's injury problems are in a different area to PSG's but just as serious. Laporte is out until 2020 with an ankle injury, and Guardiola confirmed on Tuesday Stones is set to miss as many as six weeks with a "muscular problem," per Sky Sports.
It could mean a place for holding midfielder Fernandinho at the heart of defence. Guardiola indicated the Brazilian will be counted on to help fill gaps, per Stuart Brennan of the Manchester Evening News.
At least City will still be able to boss possession thanks to David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva. Their ability to keep the ball away from a capable Shakhtar side and supply Sergio Aguero and Raheem Sterling with chances will be the key to an undermanned City avoiding defeat.
Ronaldo To Torment Atletico Again
Stopping Ronaldo will be Atletico's obvious priority after the way he has tormented them in this competition. Ronaldo scored as Los Blancos won the 2014 final 4-1 and converted the winning spot-kick to settle a penalty shootout in Real's favour in the final two years later.
A hat-trick in the round-of-16 second leg last season helped the Bianconeri wipe out a 2-0 aggregate deficit.
Atleltico have retooled since last season, adding Joao Felix from Benfica for €126 million and also signing right-back Kieran Trippier from Tottenham. Despite the new arrivals, Atleti will enter this game off the back of a defeat after losing 2-0 away to Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.
The winner of Group D likely emerges from these two, and Juve look primed to seize the early advantage.