Man City’s European dream realized, but this is only the start

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MANCHESTER — When Sheikh Mansour bought Manchester City in 2008, these are the kind of nights he dreamed of bringing to the Etihad Stadium

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Man City drew 0-0 with 10-time European champions Real Madrid on Tuesday in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semifinal. City have never reached Europe’s final four before and it was a banner night for the club as the eyes of the world watched on. Okay, they haven’t won the Champions League, yet, but they are at least in the final four. That is a sign of huge progress being made.

Many millions have been spent in making the City Football Group, and its heartbeat and hub in Manchester, a glowing beacon of global success. However one thing, a very important thing, has eluded it: success in Europe.

Yes, City have won the Premier League title twice in the last four years, plus two League Cups and an FA Cup trophy, but the real yardstick they’re measured by is success in Europe. How do they stack up against Europe’s elite? How many Champions League trophies do they have?

Zero.

They’ve taken a while to adapt to Europe but they are hellbent on becoming established among the big boys with players like Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and Kevin De Bruyne leading the charge. With Joe Hart pulling off two sensational stops late on, they matched Real Madrid and were the better team in the first half with Fernando and Fernandinho pressing high and winning the ball back at will. A draw was a fair result and the second leg is set up for a huge showdown. Real legend Zinedine Zidane rates his teams chances of advancing to the final at 50-50.

On the day of the game, there was a real sense of optimism in the air around Manchester. On the train heading in a few hours before the game, groups of City supporters boarded and immediately began dissecting the key issues. First up: how do we stop Cristiano Ronaldo?

“I remember being in the Bernabeu a few years ago and every time Ronaldo got the ball we s*** ourselves. We were leading late on. Then he started playing and we lost 3-2.”

Well, the good news was that Ronaldo missed the game through injury and if he’s fit for the second leg next Wednesday in Madrid, City’s fans will again be fearful. Rightly so.

Back to the City fans on the train before the game, inevitably City’s crosstown rivals are never far from their thoughts. With Louis Van Gaal’s side struggling to secure a top four finish this season, City’s fans mumbled to themselves how they’d hate to see them win the FA Cup final against Crystal Palace at Wembley next month. Going through and predicting their top four teams in the PL next season, they left United out.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Another compared Aguero to Luis Suarez — the latter has been linked with a move to City and could be Pep Guardiola’s marquee signing when he arrives this summer — and believed that they were of the same ilk.

“There’s a reason Suarez is at Barcelona and Aguero is at City, I hate to say it, but I’m right,” quipped his buddy as he flicked open another beer with a Guinness key-chain bottle opener.

That level of self deprecation is synonymous with City. They’ve been through the wringer over the years but failing to the third-tier of English soccer and living in the shadow of neighbors Manchester United for decades makes them appreciate nights like these even more.

Walking around the Etihad and Manchester before kick off with Real Madrid fans doing shots on the local trams and seeing signs such as “Living the Dream” held up, it is clear this was a moment to savor. Things are very good for the life of a City fan these days. People like William and Paul Henry — standing in a courtyard outside the stadium before the game eating fish and chips, taking it all in — believe this a breakthrough moment as they traveled over 250 miles from the south of England to make sure they didn’t miss it.

“First time ever in the semifinal, we don’t come too often because of the distance but we had to be here. Whatever happens,” Henry said.

Do they expect to win the Champions League?

“Nooo,” William Henry laughed. “We expect nothing… but the only way is up from there. This is a breakthrough, even though we want go any further, I think this is the breakthrough, With a new manager, some fresh faces in the summer, we will go on from here.”

The general consensus among City’s fans is that they aren’t quite among Europe’s elite, even though they are one win away from reaching the UCL final, but they have taken that next step. If they aren’t quite at Europe’s top table then perhaps they’re now on the sidetable, the one reserved for the smaller children at large family gatherings. If Sheikh Mansour continues to pump money in, and he will, it won’t be long until they make the step up permanently.

“It feels like the end of the first part of the journey,” Paul Henry added. “I know that doesn’t make too much sense but with this group of players, they have got to this point, ideally they go further and win it but like we said, we aren’t too confident. For the club it has been a nice journey to get to this level. It almost feels like the end of that first part of the journey.”

With Guardiola arriving this summer, City’s fans aren’t expecting the Spanish coach to wave a magic wand to solve all of their problems but they know City aren’t far off the Barcelona’s, Real Madrid’s and Bayern Munich’s of this world. They competed in the UCL for the first-time in 2011 and in five years they’ve come a long way.

Still, chatting with Real Madrid’s fans outside the stadium before kick, it is clear they don’t see City as a threat. At least right now. Speaking to Alberto Gomez, a Madrid native who had traveled to Manchester for the game, he believed City still have a long way to go to be talked about among Europe’s elite.

“I think if they invest more money, maybe, but they will never have the history because the history is not inside them,” Gomez explained, smiling as he held a cheese and chorizo sandwich in one hand. “In many years it could be possible, but I don’t know. Their story has just begun.”

City’s fans took exception to the view that they don’t have the history to dine at Europe’s top table. Sure, they’ve never been at this stage before but this is just the start for them.

Son and father William and Paul McCormick have seen the good and the bay days. Walking to the game together on Tuesday, I stopped them as they looked up at the billboards on the side of the Etihad and nodded their head in respect about seeing City’s U-14s and U-17s winning titles.

What do they think about the likes of Real questioning City’s non-existent history at Europe’s elite level?

“They’ve been throwing money around for donkeys years. Who are they to go around saying you can’t throw money around?” Paul McCormick said. “I remember being at school and they signed Luis Figo for 40 million and I think we signed Lee Bradbury for 3.5 million!”

“About history,” William McCormick said, jumping in, “every club has history. Just because you have not won trophies doesn’t mean you haven’t got history. We have got a fair amount of history at this club as well. These are early days. Who knows what lies ahead?”

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City and Casemiro of Real Madrid CF battle for the ball during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

That optimism epitomized how City’s fans are feeling. Sure, they aren’t going to win the Premier League this season but they’ve been there, done that. They now want to be champions of Europe and win the final trophy the club has yet to get its hands on.

A team that knows what being champions of Europe is about is Real Madrid. Real achieved La Decima in 2014 and under Zidane’s guidance there’s a belief they can clinch their 11th European Cup this season and continue their dominance of European soccer.

“I think Real Madrid invented the Champions League,” said Gomez. “It is the most important competition. You can not win La Liga for four years but if you win the Champions League in that time… it’s okay!”

For those of you who haven’t visited it, Manchester is a city which loves the game. Pure and simple. In my hotel lobby two receptionists, one from Italy and one from Spain, spoke about their love for AS Roma and Barcelona. With City and United and handfuls of professional teams in its suburbs, its a soccer hotbed. There is a passion for the game which is unrivaled in many cities across the world and on nights like these you see a city which was the heart of England’s industrial revolution come to life.

Yes, much of Manchester’s economic prowess may have been left behind when the cotton mills and factories began to disappear, but one area it has always thrived in is attracting the interest of soccer fans from across the globe.

That sense of being Mancunian and being from the city is something that resonates perhaps a little stronger with fans of Man City than it does with those of Man United. For decades United has been a global team. Think Dallas Cowboys. They’ve lost a little bit of their local identity with the success, vast overseas exposure and cashing in on commercial deals.

It’s true that City is pushing ahead with that model — especially given recent investment from China — for global dominance and even though they are still behind United, they are among the fastest growing brands and businesses in the soccer world.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 26: Gareth Bale of Real Madrid CF is challenged by Vincent Kompany of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League Semi Final first leg match between Manchester City FC and Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium on April 26, 2016 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Back to the fans on their way to the Etihad.

One was quite insistent that Guardiola would play some of the kids from the academy and bring through some talented youngsters in the coming years. That reminded me of a chat I had with Kompany, City’s captain and talisman, earlier this season.

“It is one of the most important things for Man City in the future. One of the biggest challenges is that we have all these great players from great places but there’s something fundamentally different to Manchester as to other cities,” Kompany said, smiling.

“I think for Man City to become one of the biggest clubs in the world it will have to go back to being more Mancunian than ever and to expose that as a brand and a way of being. I think that is a big challenge for City in the future. You know, I’ve bought into it a lot and a lot of players have bought into it. There is just something special about that industrial past of Manchester that somehow needs to filter through the youth teams and filter through the first team. This factor is something that people will support Manchester City for.”

On nights like these, City will have found new fans and new admirers across the global that can relate to the team in Sky Blue and can see the energy, passion and excitement on the faces of the supporters at the Etihad Stadium.

The Blue Moon is not only rising. It’s now hanging high over the soccer world where the owners always hoped, and planned, it would be.

“If you would’ve said back in 1999 when we had a playoff final against Gillingham (in League One, the third-tier) that you would be playing in a semifinal of the Champions League against Real Madrid… you would never had dreamed about it,” Paul McCormick said, shaking his head as he took in the sights around him.

“You have to pinch yourself for days like this,” chipped in William McCormick. “It is just unbelievable how far they have come. This is just the start. We have got the money there, we have a fantastic training facility across the road with the kids coming through. Who knows where it could lead to?”

Potter’s strong start continues as Chelsea cruise past AC Milan

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Chelsea vs AC Milan recap: Graham Potter’s Blues turned in their best performance to date (by a long, long way) as they cruised past reigning Serie A champions AC Milan, 3-0, at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Wesley Fofana, who later in the first half went off injured, opened the scoring by opening his Chelsea account in the 24th minute. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored for the second straight game to make it 2-0, and Reece James added the third just after the hour mark.

Chelsea were smooth and comfortable in possession (to be expected of a Potter-coached side), while giving AC Milan next to nothing (just three shots in 90 minutes) defensively, as they often tried to do under previous boss Thomas Tuchel.


What we learned from Chelsea vs AC Milan

Chelsea squad better suited to Potter’s style than Tuchel’s

It’s easy to say that based on the results alone (2W-1D-0L), but it only takes a quick scan up and down the squad list to see that the vast majority of the players currently at the club are ill suited to counter-attacking football, both with and without the ball.

Aubameyang is notoriously blessed with the straight-line speed required to get in behind opposing defenses (he played just one game under Tuchel, remember), but the other attackers (Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Raheem Sterling and Christian Pulisic) are all technical players who thrive in combination play and sustained possession. Much of the same is true for the midfield, where N’Golo Kante is no longer able to cover every blade of grass, and Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic were miscast as mostly stationary protection for the backline, where there are nothing but ball-playing defenders (both central and wide).

Everyone appear much happier as they express something better resembling their truest selves as players, and the results will only add to those good vibes currently emanating from west London.

Follow @AndyEdMLS


How to watch Chelsea vs AC Milan live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: TUDN, Paramount+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines

Chelsea grabbed a late, and controversial, win at Palace at the weekend and they’re creating more chances in attack and are slowly getting used to Graham Potter’s tactics. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is off and running as he scored at Palace too and Chelsea continue to look solid defensively. Potter has also seen his injury issues subside as the likes of N’Golo Kante, Edouard Mendy and Marc Cucurella are all expected back soon. As for Milan, they have had a workmanlike start to the Serie A season and sit in fifth place but are just three points off the top and their squad is looking very deep.


In-form players to keep an eye on

Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher scored a beauty to win the game at Palace and he will be flying high, while Aubameyang looked sharp and grabbed his goal at the weekend as he proved he can lead the line in this revamped Chelsea side. Reece James has been in sensational form at right back. For Milan, Olivier Giroud is their top goalscorer this season with five goals in all competitions and Rafael Leao is just behind him with four. Sandro Tonali makes Milan tick in central midfield and will look to dictate the tempo of this game.


The lowdown on AC Milan

With Giroud leading the lead and Chelsea academy product Fikayo Tomori anchoring the defense, there are a couple of ex-Chelsea players who will be desperate to prove a point against their old club. Aside from that storyline, Milan head coach Stefano Pioli has created a dynamic, hard-working side who are very tough to break down and have individual quality to score plenty of goals from counters and set pieces. That will concern Chelsea as defensively they’ve struggled on those two areas.


Chelsea team news, injuries, lineup options

This game may come too soon for Kante, Mendy and Cucurella to start but Potter will be delighted they are almost fit, while Gallagher, Broja and Pulisic are all pushing hard for minutes. Will Thiago Silva and Wesley Fofana start at center back again? Or will Koulibaly come in to give Silva a break?



Man City hammer Copenhagen 5-0, Haaland scores two more goals

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Man City vs Copenhagen recap: Erling Haaland scored two more goals to bring his season tally to 19 in 11 games as the two-time defending Premier League champions hammered Danish side Copenhagen 5-0 at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]

Haaland scored goals no. 1 and 2 for Manchester City before Pep Guardiola brought him off at halftime, up 3-0 following an own goal (caused by Haaland) not long before the break. Riyad Mahrez added the fourth from the penalty spot and Julian Alvarez bagged his first UCL goal to complete the scoring.

That’s three wins from three games for Man City in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Their lead over 2nd-place Borussia Dortmund remains three points after the Bundesliga side also won on Wednesday. City and Dortmund will meet in Germany on matchday 5.


What we learned from Man City vs Copenhagen

Total and complete dominance, as expect, from Manchester City

Copenhagen attempted all of two shots in 90 minutes on Wednesday, the first of which didn’t come until the 72nd minute, at which point Man City had already attempted 24. Haaland took four himself, in just 45 minutes, as the midfield playmakers (Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo on Wednesday) continue to simply feed the monster.

Whereas possession used to aimlessly loiter around the penalty area, Manchester City now look to exploit the space in behind the defense anytime it presents itself. The runs that Haaland makes — perhaps the best part of his game, by the way — pose a constant and eternal threat to opposing defenses, particularly when Kevin De Bruyne is pulling the strings, leaving most anyone and everyone in their path (and their wake) wondering what exactly you’re supposed to do.

If anyone has ideas, please share them.

Follow @AndyEdMLS


How to watch Manchester City vs Copenhagen live, stream link and start time

Kick off: 3pm ET, Wednesday
TV Channel: TUDN, Paramount+
Online: Updates via NBCSports.com


Key storylines + in-form players to keep an eye on

This time, we can combine the “key storylines” and “in-form players” sections: It’s Phil Foden and Erling Haaland.

Let’s focus on the latter.

Erling Haaland is threatening to put up season numbers that would seem impossible were we not to have experience Lionel Messi’s 2011-12 season at Barcelona. That season saw Messi score 50 goals and 19 assists in La Liga while adding 20 more goals and nine assists in other competitions.

The match total? 53.

That works out to 1.4 goals and 0.4 assists per game.

Haaland? So far he has 17 goals and three assists in 11 matches, good for… 1.54 goals and 0.27 assists per game.

So, yes, Haaland is currently on his “Messi prime” grind.


The lowdown on Copenhagen

Copenhagen enters this match hoping that star goalkeeper — ex-Brighton starter — Mathew Ryan can help shut down an incredible City attack.


Manchester City team news, injuries, lineup options

John Stones (thigh), Kalvin Phillips (shoulder), and Kyle Walker (muscular) are set to miss the match, while Rodri (lower leg) faces a late fitness test.

UEFA Champions League: How to watch, predictions, updates, scores, schedule, fixtures

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The 2022-23 UEFA Champions League group stage is here and we are ready to roll between now and November.

With a congested schedule due to the 2022 World Cup kicking off in November, we will have midweek Champions League action every week between now and early November (aside from the international break in late September).

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Can Real Madrid win back-to-back Champions League titles? Or will the Premier League giants continue to reach the final (at least one PL team has reached four of the last five finals with two all-English finals in the last four) and go one better this season?

Bayern Munich, Barcelona and Inter Milan are together in the “group of death,” while Tottenham were handed a (relatively) easy draw with Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting CP and Marseille in Group D. Manchester City will face perennial European noise-makers in Borussia Dortmund and Sevilla in Group G, while PSG and Juventus were paired up in Group H.

Rangers are back in the Champions League group stage for the first time since 2010, joining bitter Glasgow rivals Celtic to give the Scottish Premiership two clubs in the UCL group stage for the first time in 15 years.

Elsewhere, Benfica, Copenhagen, Dinamo Zagreb, Viktoria Plzen and Maccabi Haifi made it through the playoffs, while this is the first time the Bundesliga has had five teams in the group stage after Frankfurt won the Europa League last season to qualify.

Below is everything you need following the UEFA Champions League group stage.


UEFA Champions League schedule, dates, how to watch

Dates: Group stage to be played September to November
Online: Live updates via NBCSports.com
How to watch: TUDN, Paramount+


Champions League group stage fixtures (all kick off times ET)

Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen
Marseille 4-1 Sporting CP
Liverpool 2-0 Rangers
Ajax 1-6 Napoli
Porto 2-0 Leverkusen
Club Brugge 2-0 Atletico Madrid
Inter Milan 1-0 Barcelona
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (12:45)
Leipzig vs Celtic (12:45)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (3:00)
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Man City vs Copenhagen (3:00)
Sevilla vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Paris (3:00)


JPW’s Champions League predictions – Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern 4-1 Plzen
Marseille 2-2 Sporting CP
Liverpool 4-2 Rangers
Ajax 2-2 Napoli
Porto 1-2 Leverkusen
Club Brugge 1-2 Atletico
Inter 1-1 Barcelona
Frankfurt 1-2 Tottenham

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg 2-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Leipzig 3-1 Celtic
Chelsea 2-1 AC Milan
Real Madrid 3-1 Shakhtar
Man City 4-1 Copenhagen
Sevilla 2-1 Dortmund
Juventus 3-1 Maccabi Haifa
Benfica 1-4 Paris


Matchday 1

Tuesday, 6 September
Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Chelsea — Highlights, Tuchel’s furious response
Dortmund 3-0 Copenhagen — WATCH: Reyna’s two assists
Salzburg 1-1 AC Milan — Dest makes Milan debut off bench
Celtic 0-3 Real Madrid — Carter-Vickers’ Bhoys eventually falter
Leipzig 1-4 Shakhtar — Ukrainians off to rollicking start
Sevilla 0-4 Man City– Highlights, Guardiola’s glowing reaction
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Juventus — McKennie scores in loss
Benfica 2-0 Maccabi Haifa — Cohen makes 3 saves in loss

Wednesday, 7 September
Ajax 4-0 Rangers — Dutch giants hammer Gers as Alvarez gets ball rolling
Frankfurt 0-3 Sporting CP — Portuguese giants led by Edwards’ opener
Napoli 4-1 Liverpool — Highlights as Klopp’s boys run ragged
Atletico 2-1 Porto — Griezmann scores 101st minute winner amid late drama
Club Brugge 1-0 Leverkusen — Sylla seals big win for Belgian champs
Barcelona 5-1 Plzen — Lewandowski hat trick leads rout
Inter 0-2 Bayern — Sane unplayable as Bayern ease to win
Tottenham 2-0 Marseille — Richarlison the late hero on his UCL debut

Matchday 2

Tuesday, 13 September
Plzen 0-2 Inter — Goal, assist for Dzeko in win over 10-man hosts
Sporting CP 2-0 Tottenham – Conte rues details plus video highlights
Liverpool 2-1 Ajax –Klopp relief at rebound win; Video highlights
Porto 0-4 Club Brugge — Four different scorers highlight blowout
Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Atletico Madrid — Frimpong sets up two late goals
Bayern Munich 2-0 Barcelona — Wasteful finishing haunts Lewandowski return
Marseille 0-1 Eintracht Frankfurt — Late first-half Lindstrom goal the difference

Wednesday, 14 September
AC Milan 3-1 Dinamo Zagreb
Shakhtar 1-1 Celtic
Chelsea 1-1 Salzburg – RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
Rangers 0-3 Napoli
Real Madrid 2-0 RB Leipzig
Man City 2-1 Dortmund – RECAP & HIGHLIGHTS
Copenhagen 0-0 Sevilla
Juventus 1-2 Benfica
Maccabi Haifa 1-3 Paris Saint-Germain


Matchday 3

Tuesday, 4 October
Bayern vs Plzen (12:45)
Marseille vs Sporting CP (12:45)
Liverpool vs Rangers (3:00)
Ajax vs Napoli (3:00)
Porto vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Club Brugge vs Atletico (3:00)
Inter vs Barcelona (3:00)
Frankfurt vs Tottenham (3:00)

Wednesday, 5 October
Salzburg vs Dinamo Zagreb (12:45)
Leipzig vs Celtic (12:45)
Chelsea vs AC Milan (3:00)
Real Madrid vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Man City vs Copenhagen (3:00)
Sevilla vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Paris (3:00)


Matchday 4

Tuesday, 11 October
Copenhagen vs Man City (12:45)
Maccabi Haifa vs Juventus (12:45)
Dinamo Zagreb vs Salzburg (3:00)
AC Milan vs Chelsea (3:00)
Shakhtar vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Celtic vs Leipzig (3:00)
Dortmund vs Sevilla (3:00)
Paris vs Benfica (3:00)

Wednesday, 12 October
Napoli vs Ajax (12:45)
Atletico vs Club Brugge (12:45)
Rangers vs Liverpool (3:00)
Leverkusen vs Porto (3:00)
Barcelona vs Inter (3:00)
Plzen vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Frankfurt (3:00)
Sporting CP vs Marseille (3:00)

Matchday 5

Tuesday, 25 October
Salzburg vs Chelsea (12:45)
Sevilla vs Copenhagen (12:45)
Dinamo Zagreb vs AC Milan (3:00)
Celtic vs Shakhtar (3:00)
Leipzig vs Real Madrid (3:00)
Dortmund vs Man City (3:00)
Paris vs Maccabi Haifa (3:00)
Benfica vs Juventus (3:00)

Wednesday, 26 October
Club Brugge vs Porto (12:45)
Inter vs Plzen (12:45)
Napoli vs Rangers (3:00)
Ajax vs Liverpool (3:00)
Atletico vs Leverkusen (3:00)
Barcelona vs Bayern (3:00)
Tottenham vs Sporting CP (3:00)
Frankfurt vs Marseille (3:00)

Matchday 6

Tuesday, 1 November
Porto vs Atletico (18:45)
Leverkusen vs Club Brugge (18:45)
Liverpool vs Napoli (21:00)
Rangers vs Ajax (21:00)
Bayern vs Inter (21:00)
Plzen vs Barcelona (21:00)
Sporting CP vs Frankfurt (21:00)
Marseille vs Tottenham (21:00)

Wednesday, 2 November
Real Madrid vs Celtic (12:45)
Shakhtar vs Leipzig (12:45)
Chelsea vs Dinamo Zagreb (3:00)
AC Milan vs Salzburg (3:00)
Man City vs Sevilla (3:00)
Copenhagen vs Dortmund (3:00)
Juventus vs Paris (3:00)
Maccabi Haifa vs Benfica (3:00)


Knockout stage dates

Round of 16 draw: 7 November
Round of 16: 14/15/21/22 February & 7/8/14/15 March 2023
Quarter-final and semi-final draw: 17 March 2023
Quarter-finals: 11/12 & 18/19 April 2023
Semi-finals: 9/10 & 16/17 May 2023
Final: 10 June 2023


Champions League group stage standings

Group A
Napoli — 6 points (+6 GD)
Ajax — 3 (-2)
Liverpool — 3 (+3)
Rangers — 0 (-7)

Group B
Club Brugge — 6 (+5)
Bayer Leverkusen — 3 (1)
Atletico Madrid — 3 (-1)
Porto — 0 (-5)

Group C
Bayern Munich — 6 (+4)
Barcelona — 3 (+2)
Inter Milan — 3 (0)
Viktoria Plzen — 0 (-6)

Group D
Sporting CP — 6 (+5)
Tottenham Hotspur — 3 (0)
Eintracht Frankfurt — 3 (-2)
Marseille — 0

Group E
AC Milan — 4 (+2)
Dinamo Zagreb — 3 (-1)
Red Bull Salzburg — 2 (0)
Chelsea — 1 (-1)

Group F
Real Madrid — 6 (+5)
Shakhtar Donetsk — 3 (+3)
Celtic — 1 (-3)
RB Leipzig — 0 (-5)

Group G
Manchester City — 6 (+5)
Borussia Dortmund — 3 (+2)
Copenhagen — 1 (-3)
Sevilla — 1 (-4)

Group H
Paris Saint-Germain — 6 (+3)
Benfica — 6 (+3)
Juventus — 0 (-2)
Maccabi Haifa — 0 (-4)


Ukraine to join Spain-Portugal host bid for 2030 World Cup

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NYON, Switzerland — Hosting World Cup matches in 2030 would be “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war,” Ukrainian soccer federation president Andriy Pavelko said Wednesday after his country launched a joint bid with Spain and Portugal.

The leaders of the three soccer federations joined together at UEFA headquarters to present a campaign they hope will connect people beyond the world of sports.

“This is the dream of millions of Ukrainian fans,” Pavelko said at a news conference, “the dream of people who survived the horrors of war or are still in the occupied territories and over whom the Ukrainian flag will surely fly soon.”

Pavelko said the project is backed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

[ MORE: Premier League Golden Boot race ]

The expected Spain-Portugal bid, which has been in the works for more than three years, previously was made UEFA’s preferred candidate. FIFA will vote on the host in 2024.

“Now it’s not the Iberian bid, it’s the European bid,” Spain soccer federation president Luis Rubiales said at the launch. “Together we represent the power of transformation football has in society.”

No details were given about how many games at the 48-team World Cup would be staged in Ukraine or in which cities. The Olympic Stadium in Kyiv hosted the finals of the 2012 European Championship and the 2018 Champions League.

The European bid is expected to face a South American candidacy with co-hosts Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Saudi Arabia, which has built close ties to FIFA and its president, Gianni Infantino, has been preparing a multi-continent bid potentially including Egypt and Greece. It is unclear how Greece would be approved by UEFA to be part of that.

[ MORE: How to watch Premier League in USA ]