Osimhen leads Napoli’s attack against Braga


UEFA Champions League enters Match Day Two on Wednesday with Nigerian superstar Victor Osimhen leading Napoli’s attack against Braga.

Napoli blew its opponents apart in last year’s group stage – winning five of its six matches and scoring 20 goals. That was part of a fantastic season for the Italian club, which saw it end a 33-year wait for the Serie A title. However, it changed coach in the offseason with Rudi Garcia coming in for Luciano Spalletti – who left the club saying he needed a break before replacing Roberto Mancini as Italy coach following the latter’s sudden resignation. Napoli won its first two matches under Garcia before losing to Lazio and having to fight back from two goals down to rescue a 2-2 draw at Genoa last weekend. Braga lost at the weekend but had opened the Portuguese season with a draw and a win. Its last Champions League appearance was in 2012 when it won just one of its group stage matches

But Wednesday’s star match is the tie between Manchester United and Bayern Munich in Munich. Manchester United will be without injured defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka as it faces the daunting trip to Munich. The season has not started as planned for Erik ten Hag’s team after opening the Premier League with three losses in its first five games. Bayern, which has won the last 11 Bundesliga titles in a row, will measure its success this season on how far it progresses in the Champions League. The Bavarian powerhouse is as yet unbeaten this season, though did drop its first points in a 2-2 draw at home to Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

In London Arsenal hosts Dutch giant PSV Eindhoven. After qualifying for the Champions League for 19 straight years under Arsene Wenger, Arsenal has had to wait six years to get back into the competition. And it’s clear the team has been looking forward to this moment. The Champions League theme tune was blaring from the speakers in the gym at the club’s training center this week, striker Gabriel Jesus said. Jesus could make his first start of the season following a knee injury, while manager Mikel Arteta will have to decide how many other players to rotate ahead of a crucial north London derby against Tottenham on Sunday. PSV has won all four of its league games so far and cannot be taken lightly, having scored 13 goals while conceding just one in that stretch. Sevilla hosts Lens in the other group game.

Champions League serial winner, Real Madrid will be without right-back Dani Carvajal against newcomer Union Berlin at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Carvajal was injured in training on Tuesday. Coach Carlo Ancelotti said Lucas Vázquez will be Carvajal’s replacement. Forward Vinícius Júnior had already been ruled out because of an injury. The record 14-time European champion is making its 27th consecutive appearance in the competition’s group stage, while Union Berlin is making its tournament debut. Madrid started the season with five straight wins in the Spanish league.

Last season’s runner-up Inter Milan heads into its Champions League opener at Real Sociedad coming off a 5-1 win over city rival AC Milan in the derby on Saturday to maintain its perfect start to the season – the only team in Serie A to have won all its four matches. That goal was the only one Inter has conceded so far this campaign. New signing Marcus Thuram has particularly impressed. Inter will be without one of its key players, however, as midfielder Hakan Çalhanoğlu has been ruled out of the trip to Spain with a thigh strain. Sociedad lost at Real Madrid at the weekend. It drew its first three matches before beating Granada in the previous round. This is Sociedad’s first season in the Champions League in 10 years. The last time it made it out of the group stage was in the 2003-04 season.

Meanwhile, Portuguese champion hosts the Austrian champion in a meeting between two teams with an eye on getting out of the group at Sociedad or Inter’s expense. Benfica was a Champions League quarterfinalist in each of the last two seasons and Salzburg reached the last 16 in 2021-22.