The challenges facing English teams in the Champions League this week

By Sports Desk October 02, 2023

The Champions League returns on Tuesday for the second round of group stage fixtures.

Last month’s opening round provided a mixed bag of results, with two of the Premier League’s four representatives getting off to a winning start.

Here the PA news agency takes a look at the opponents English clubs will be facing this week.

Manchester United v Galatasaray (Tuesday)View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Galatasaray (@galatasaray)

Galatasaray earned a spot in the competition through the qualifying rounds, where they won all four out of five matches before being drawn into Group A.

A successful season saw them win the Super Lig title last year under manager Okan Buruk, lifting the trophy for a 23rd time, and there are a few new ex-Premier League acquisitions who could feature at Old Trafford.

A busy transfer window saw former United and Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha join the club during the summer, along with former Spurs duo Tanguy Ndombele and Davinson Sanchez.

Former Paris St Germain and Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi leads the line for the team and is the top scorer in the Super Lig so far this season with seven goals. His side sit second in the table behind the unbeaten Fenerbahce.

Galatasaray are just above United in the Group A standings, picking up one point so far in the competition after mounting a dramatic comeback against 10-man Copenhagen to draw 2-2 as Sacha Boey and Tete struck in the final 10 minutes.

Lens v Arsenal (Tuesday)

Lens secured their place in this year’s Champions League with an impressive second-placed finish in Ligue 1, just a point behind reigning champions PSG.

It marked an incredible resurgence for the club, who were playing in Ligue 2 only three years ago before returning to the top tier of French football and earning back-to-back seventh-placed finishes.

Despite their success last season, Lens have struggled in the league this year and are lingering above the relegation zone with only one point separating them and Lorient in the drop zone.

After losing their first league game against Brest, the northern French side were winless for their next four games, which included losses to PSG and league leaders Monaco.

However, in their first Champions League tie since 2002, Lens earned a point in their opening game at Sevilla as Angelo Fulgini cancelled out Lucas Ocampos’ early strike and they have since found some form to earn back-to-back league victories, their latest coming at Strasbourg on Friday night.

Newcastle v Paris St Germain (Wednesday)View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Newcastle United FC (@nufc)

If Lens have struggled to find momentum from last season, then reigning Ligue 1 champions PSG have also endured a tricky start to the new campaign as they sit fifth in the table.

With 12 points from seven league games they are only two points behind leaders Monaco, but were held to a goalless draw on Saturday as their former academy goalkeeper Mory Diaw starred for strugglers Clermont Auvergne.

There was plenty going on in Paris before the season began as Lionel Messi moved to MLS side Inter Miami and outgoing manager Christophe Galtier was replaced by former Spain and Barcelona boss Luis Enrique.

Neymar then joined the exodus to Saudi Arabia, joining Pro League side Al Hilal and star striker Kylian Mbappe’s future was the subject of speculation, with the France captain barred from senior training for a short period until the issue was resolved.

A bumpy start to the season saw PSG pick up two draws and they have since won three games, but their Champions League campaign got off to a winning start in a tough Group F, where they sit top of the standings after goals from Mbappe and Achraf Hakimi earned a 2-0 win against Borussia Dortmund.

RB Leipzig v Manchester City (Wednesday)

Defending champions Manchester City travel to Saxony on Wednesday as they face RB Leipzig with both sides tied at the top of Group G.

The German outfit got off to a winning start in their opening tie, beating Young Boys 3-1 with goals from Mohamed Simakan, Xaver Schlager and Benjamin Sesko.

However, they will be hoping to shake off the bad memories of last season’s meeting in the last 16 of the competition, where Erling Haaland scored five as City stormed to a 7-0 victory in a ruthless display, winning 8-1 on aggregate.

Leipzig are currently fifth in the Bundesliga and saw their four-game winning streak in the league end against Bayern Munich, who came from behind to draw 2-2.

They have only lost one other game this season in the league, to leaders Bayer Leverkusen on the opening day, and are now three points away from them in the standings.

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