2015.09.16 17:46 NOLAsigmaPre-Match Thread: Today's Champions League Fixtures.
All ties start at 20:45 CET, 2:45 EST
Bayer 04 Leverkusen vs FC BATE Borisov - BayArena, Leverkusen (GER)(Group E)
Referee: Danny Makkelie (NED) Previous Round Victories:
Leverkusen: Lazio 3-1 Agg.
BATE: Partizan 2-2 Agg.
Fourth in the Bundesliga last term, Leverkusen booked their place in the group stage thanks to a 3-1 aggregate play-off win over SS Lazio. They lost the first leg 1-0 but recovered with a 3-0 home success courtesy of Hakan Çalhanoğlu, Admir Mehmedi and Karim Bellarabi.
This is the third consecutive UEFA Champions League group stage campaign for Leverkusen, who reached the round of 16 last term before losing on penalties to Club Atlético de Madrid after a 1-1 aggregate draw.
BATE came through three qualifying rounds to reach the group stage, overcoming the challenge of Dundalk FC (2-1 aggregate), Videoton FC (2-1 agg) and FK Partizan (2-2 agg, away goals). Aleksandr Yermakovich's side won all three home games in those ties but are still seeking an away victory.
BATE are participating in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the fifth time. They have yet to survive this stage of the competition but in 2012/13 finished third in their section with the help of a famous home win against FC Bayern München.
Leverkusen have conceded only two goals in their last 12 home matches in all competitions.
BATE have lost just three times in 33 matches in 2015.
Roger Schmidt, Leverkusen coach: On paper we are favourites and while we accept that, we will not underestimate BATE. They are in the Champions League proper for the fourth time in a row. They have experienced players and have posed opponents problems in the past. Borisov may play a defensive game, yet they will attempt quick transitions and cater to their strengths on the counterattack. On Saturday [against Darmstadt] we failed because we did not do what we usually do. We have scored too few goals in recent games. We created lots of chances but did not capitalise on them. We need better movement and to play more direct. Chicharito [Javier Hernández] has great qualities when it comes to those attacking attributes.
Aleksandr Yermakovich, BATE coach: The Bundesliga and the Champions League are two different competitions. Leverkusen lost this weekend, but the players will now be fired up even more to get a good result tomorrow. Had they won [on Saturday], things would now be completely different.
A.S. Roma vs FC Barcelona - Stadio Olimpico, Rome (ITA)(Group E)
Referee: Björn Kuipers (NED) Previous Round Victories:
Luis Enrique was in the Barcelona side and Francesco Totti wore the Roma armband when the clubs met in the 2001/02 UEFA Champions League second group stage, starting with a 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona beat Roma 3-0 in a pre-season friendly at Camp Nou on 5 August this year, with Neymar, Lionel Messi and Ivan Rakitić the scorers.
Second in Serie A last season, Roma are participating in the UEFA Champions League for the second consecutive season. In 2014/15 they finished third in their group and transferred to the UEFA Europa League, where they reached the round of 16.
Roma lost three out of five home fixtures in Europe last term, including a 7-1 defeat by FC Bayern München in the UEFA Champions League and a 3-0 reverse against ACF Fiorentina in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League.
This match comes 102 days since Barcelona beat Juventus to win their fifth UEFA Champions League at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
Barcelona won four of six away games in last season's competition, scoring in every one (15 goals in total).
Barcelona have won just one of their last six matches in Italy – 3-2 at AC Milan in the 2011/12 group stage. Their overall record from 20 away matches against Serie A sides is 6-8-6.
Totti's next goal for Roma will be his 300th for the club in all competitions.
Rudi Garcia, Roma coach: Barcelona are defending European champions. If they aren't the best in the world, they are certainly among the best. We'll play with humility and ambition. We want to qualify, and this is the first of six games in which we will do our very best to get points. We will have to play as a team, in defence and attack. We will give it everything and work for each other, and use the ball properly when we attack. Lionel Messi? He is one of the best players in the world – probably the best.
Luis Enrique, Barcelona coach: I'm back in Rome with a few more years on the clock, but also more experience. Rome is a city I have only positive memories of. For me it will be a special game, but that doesn't matter because the most important thing is that we make a winning start to this UEFA Champions League season. Last month's Joan Gamper Trophy game is no guide to what will happen. I expect a Roma side like the one I saw in Serie A against Juventus [Roma's 2-1 home win in August] – a strong team that knows how to press, knows how to play the ball and has players of great quality, able to create dangerous situations at any time.
GNK Dinamo Zagreb vs Arsenal FC - Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb (CRO)(Group F)
Dinamo were beaten 5-1 on aggregate by Arsenal in the 2006/07 third qualifying round, losing 3-0 at home and 2-1 away.
The Croatian champions have never previously qualified from the group stage in their four previous attempts – 1998/99, 1999/2000, 2011/12 and 2012/13.
They have scored only four goals in their last 12 UEFA Champions League group fixtures and have not won since matchday three in 1999/2000 – 3-0 at home to SK Sturm Graz – a run of 15 games with only two draws.
Dinamo have lost their last six games with English visitors – including the last three at home – and have yet to win against Premier League opponents, drawing twice and losing seven times.
This is the Gunners' 18th successive group stage campaign. Last term they reached the round of 16 for the 15th time in a row but again departed at that stage – as in the previous four campaigns.
Arsenal began 2014/15 with a 2-0 defeat at Borussia Dortmund, the first time they had lost in 11 matchday one fixtures (winning eight). With wins in their other two group away games, they finished second in Group G with 13 points, the same as Dortmund.
Play-offs included, Arsène Wenger's side have won seven and lost only two of their last 11 away fixtures in the UEFA Champions League.
Zoran Mamić, Dinamo coach: Arsenal are a top-quality team – better than us – but our aim is not to sit back and defend. We will try to pose them problems. I met Arsène Wenger when we were selling Eduardo to Arsenal; he is one of the best coaches in the world and is doing a fantastic job at Arsenal. It's a privilege to have him here. I expect a full stadium and a great atmosphere. In the run-up to the match I told the players we would have two video analysis sessions: one on Arsenal's strengths, which would be an hour long, and one on their weaknesses. I told them we probably wouldn't have anything to show in the second meeting.
Arsène Wenger, Arsenal manager: Dinamo Zagreb are strong team, they have real technical quality and very gifted young players. In our last meeting in 2006 it was a very tight game. We won but we needed patience. They had Luka Modrić, Eduardo – it was a very strong team. In the Champions League you quickly find out if you are not on the top level from the beginning, so we need to focus on what is a vital game. Of course we want to win this competition but we have to be realistic. It's OK to have ambitions, but we can't be dreamers.
Olympiacos F.C. vs FC Bayern München - Stadio Georgios Karaiskakis, Piraeus (GRE)(Group F)
Referee: Carlos Velasco Carballo (ESP) Previous Round Victories:
Bayern München: N/A
The teams met in the 1980/81 European Cup first round when the Bundesliga giants won both legs (4-2 away, 3-0 home). Bayern chief executive Karl-Heinz Rummenigge scored in both games.
The Greek side, who are in their 17th group stage participation and their fifth in succession, appointed Marco Silva, formerly of Sporting Clube de Portugal, as coach in the summer.
Last season Olympiacos finished third in Group A. Transferring to the UEFA Europa League they were defeated in the round of 32, losing 2-0 away to FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk ahead of a 2-2 home draw.
It is the fifth time in 14 seasons that Olympiacos have been drawn in the same group as German opponents, winning three of those home games with one loss.
The German title holders, who are in their 19th group stage campaign, reached the UEFA Champions League semi-finals for the fourth time in a row last term.
Josep Guardiola's charges won their first two away games en route to first place in Group E but then lost three and drew one of their other away games including the 3-0 defeat at FC Barcelona which paved the way for their semi-final defeat (agg: 3-5).
Bayern are unbeaten in their seven games against sides from Greece (W5 D2).
The five-time winners have emerged victorious in 11 successive matchday one contests and in only two of those have they conceded a goal.
Marco Silva, Olympiacos coach: We're not thinking about advantages or disadvantages. We will start the game and do what we can to get the result we want. We know how to play against teams that keep possession and play with pace. We have to be ready to take our chances when they come. We have done our analysis and studied them very well. We've seen lots of their games. We know about their injuries but all big teams have alternatives. We have fantastic fans and we need their help. We will do our part.
Josep Guardiola, Bayern coach: Our aim is to put in a good performance tomorrow and get off to a good start. All teams in the Champions League are strong. We know Olympiacos are a very decent side with a good record – this is the Champions League, after all. All teams, by default, are very strong. I have studied them well. Olympiacos have some very good players like [Alejandro] Domínguez, [Esteban] Cambiasso. They also have a very strong defence. They have won their last six home games in the Champions League and that tells you a lot. In my first year at Bayern we reached the semis and in the second we did the same and lost to Barça, even though I believe we played well. This is the third year – we will do our best.
FC Dynamo Kyiv vs FC Porto - NSK Olimpiyskyi, Kyiv (UKR)(Group G)
Referee: Felix Brych (GER) Previous Round Victories:
The teams have met on six occasions, all in the European Cup, and have faced off twice in the group stage in recent years. They each won away in 2008/09, before Porto prevailed 3-2 at home and drew 0-0 away in 2012/13.
The Ukrainian double winners are embarking on their 15th group stage campaign while Serhiy Rebrov experiences the tournament for the first time as coach. In 2012/13 they finished third in Group A, eight points behind runners-up Porto.
In 2009/10, when they finished bottom of the group, Dynamo won one and lost two of their home games and have tasted success only three times in their last 15 group home fixtures. Home and away their record is four wins in their last 31 group stage games.
Porto are in their 20th group stage campaign and hope to improve on last season's run to the quarter-finals where they lost 7-4 on aggregate to FC Bayern München, suffering a 6-1 second leg loss in Germany.
Porto began last term with a 6-0 defeat of FC BATE Borisov, their fourth successive matchday one victory - the last three coming without the concession of a goal.
Their record in 12 games against Ukrainian sides is W7 D4 L1 (W3 D3 L0 away).
Dynamo have won seven of their nine matches in all competitions this season.
Rebrov's side have conceded just one goal in their last seven games.
Coach Julen Lopetegui serves a touchline ban on matchday one, when Iván Marcano is also suspended.
Serhiy Rebrov, Dynamo coach: There's a pretty big buzz around the game – me and the players can feel it. We are not afraid of anybody. I hope we can produce our best performance in front of our fans, at our home ground. Younes Belhanda labelled us group favourites? That's great, I like that attitude. It's just important that that confidence doesn't become complacency. Porto always manage to find proper replacements for the players who leave the club. At the same time, their style of play has remained unchanged for so many years. They are very dangerous. That's why we have to show the utmost caution at the back.
Julen Lopetegui, Porto coach: We are highly motivated ahead of this game. We know enough about Dynamo. They are a famous club boasting rich exprerience in UEFA club competition, and they have quality players. The in-form Kyiv side are pacesetters in Ukrainian league. Dynamo started their season earlier then us but it's OK. We'll try to compensate for the lack of match practice with some other strong points. How? Tomorrow you'll find out. Our calendar is rather heavy, we're up against Benfica soon. It's clear we have to look ahead but now we're focused on tomorrow's contest and we have to do our best. I'll be absent from the dug-out due to my ban but I'm fine with that. I have faith in my team and I hope they'll cope with the task.
Chelsea F.C. vs Maccabi Tel-Aviv F.C. - Stamford Bridge, London (ENG)(Group G)
Referee: Felix Zwayer (GER) Previous Round Victories:
M. Tel-Aviv: Basel 3-3 Agg.
Maccabi coach Slaviša Jokanović faces one of his former clubs, as does Israeli defender Tal Ben Haim, but the teams have never met on a competitive stage before.
The London side are in their 14th group stage campaign and traditionally start well: eight wins and three draws on matchday one before 2013, when they lost at home to FC Basel 1893.
Last year they began with a 1-1 draw at home to FC Schalke 04 but went on to win their group for the ninth time in their last 12 campaigns. They finished runners-up in two other years and were eliminated in the group stage only once, as holders in 2012/13.
Chelsea's only previous visit to Israel was a 2-0 loss at Hapoel Tel-Aviv FC in the 2001/02 UEFA Cup second round, preceding a 1-1 home draw. Jokanović was in the lineup in Tel Aviv while John Terry played in both matches.
The Israeli double winners clinched only their second place in the UEFA Champions League group stage with a 1-1 draw at home to Basel after the play-off first leg had ended 2-2.
Eran Zahavi scored seven goals in the qualifying rounds, in which Maccabi first emerged triumphant against Hibernians FC, winning 5-1 at home after a 2-1 away defeat.
The last time Maccabi were in this elite company, in 2004/05, they had the misfortune of sharing a group with three former winners: FC Bayern München, Juventus and AFC Ajax.
Maccabi's only previous meeting with English opponents brought two defeats against Stoke City FC (0-3 away, 1-2 home) in the 2011/2012 UEFA Europa League group stage.
Chelsea have won just one of their six matches in all competitions this season – a 3-2 victory at West Bromwich Albion FC on 23 August in which debutant Pedro Rodríguez scored one and set up another.
Chelsea's four-point total after five games marks their worst start to a top-flight season since 1986.
M. Tel-Aviv: Rajković; Shpungin, Ben Haim I, Tibi, Ben Harush; Igiebor, Alberman, Mitrović, Miha, Ben Haim II; Zahavi. Out: Dasa (suspended)
José Mourinho, Chelsea manager: We are not all smiles, laughing and joking. When people are not getting the success they work for – and I promise we are working a lot for that – people get frustrated and unhappy. The only real problem we have is we don't have good results. At other clubs you have to go back two, three, five, six, ten years to remember good results. In our case you have to go back three months. Three months ago we were the best team in the country, the best manager, the best players. I respect Maccabi and I have watched them play many matches. I did my study, I know the team. I also had information that, in the last week, they trained with a different tactical system and will probably come to play with five defenders. I am fine. I promise you, I'm fine. I'm not happy, I'm not used to losing so many times, but I'm adapting. I'm not adapting to losing, but to the situation – the challenge – to have to improve. There is one point that is fundamental in football, and that is the confidence levels. Especially with people who are used to winning all the time. When you don't it's a strange feeling. Some people have more experience of that. Some deal with that negative moment better than others.
Slaviša Jokanović, Maccabi Tel Aviv coach: It's a nice moment for me, back at a place that was my home many years ago. I was also here [as Watford manager] at the beginning of the year for an FA Cup game. I have great memories of the past season here in England but now I am focused on what is in front of me. I am very proud to be here with Maccabi Tel Aviv; we are here to find out what level we're at. We have achieved great results this summer. We surprised some better teams and deserve to be where we are. I am going to enjoy this moment, this opportunity to test myself, my team and Israeli football. After 11 years Maccabi Tel Aviv are back in the competition.
Valencia CF vs FC Zenit St. Petersburg - Estadi de Mestalla, Valencia (ESP)(Group H)
It is the first UEFA Champions League match as a coach for Valencia's Nuno Espírito Santo and comes against André Villas-Boas, an old colleague from their days at FC Porto under José Mourinho.
Fourth in the Spanish Liga last term, Valencia reached the group stage with a 4-3 aggregate play-off success over AS Monaco FC. Their 3-1 first-leg win against the Ligue 1 side extended their unbeaten European run at Mestalla to seven matches.
This is Valencia's first UEFA Champions League campaign since 2012/13, when they reached the round of 16.
Valencia were absent from Europe last season but in 2013/14 reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
For Zenit this is the fifth consecutive season of UEFA Champions League group stage football. Last season they finished third in their group and went on to reach the quarter-finals of the UEFA Europa League.
Zenit's run in last season's UEFA Europa League ended with a 4-3 aggregate defeat by Sevilla FC. Their 2-1 first-leg loss in Seville maintained their miserable record on Spanish soil, where Zenit have lost on all seven previous visits.
Zenit are on a nine-game winless streak against Spanish sides dating back to their triumphant 2007/08 UEFA Cup run when they beat Villarreal CF 1-0 at home in the round of 32 to set up an away-goals success.
Valencia drew both of their opening Liga games, 0-0 at Rayo Vallecano and 1-1 with RC Deportivo La Coruña, making this their worst start to a campaign since 1999/2000, the year they reached the UEFA Champions League final.
Villas-Boas was given a six-game touchline ban after being sent to the stands during the Krylya Sovetov Samara fixture on 29 August.
Nuno Espírito Santo, Valencia coach: I would love to see a sold-out Mestalla helping its team to win. From my humble position, I call for you to come and support us. We have a good team in terms of both quality and quantity. It is a balanced group. We want to progress to the knockout stage, but we know it will be difficult. You have to respect all your opponents. There is no fear. We want to transform the fear into a challenge. We want to win and we are obsessed with winning every game. We know our opponents, their players and their style. They will be very competitive. They have great players. We are humble and respect them. André [Villas-Boas] and I are friends. We have talked a lot about football, but in this game he is my opponent.
André Villas-Boas, Zenit coach: The players are ready and prepared. It is a match that everyone wants to play. We are facing the most difficult match we have ahead of us. [Valencia] are very good and very organised. It will be a difficult match for us. What I fear the most is Valencia’s height and their counterattacks. The diagonals balls from [José] Gayà to [Sofiane] Feghouli against Monaco were a constant threat. And so was the change of rhythm from [Daniel] Parejo. Javi Fuego gives a lot of balance to the team and he knows how to pass and how to organise. There are not a lot of stars, but the team works hard both in offence and in defence. Everything will be difficult for us tomorrow.
Referee: Williams Collum (SCO) Previous Round Victories:
Gent's participation in the UEFA Champions League is their reward for winning the first Belgian title in their 115-year history in May.
Their only previous taste of the UEFA Champions League was a 6-1 aggregate defeat by Dynamo Kyiv in the 2010/11 third qualifying round (0-3 a, 1-3 h).
Gent were knocked out by Ligue 1 opponents on their solitary previous appearance in a UEFA competition group stage. In the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League, they were poised for qualification for the last 32 only to lose 3-0 at LOSC Lille on matchday six. The teams had drawn 1-1 in Belgium.
Overall Gent have faced French teams six times, losing all three games across the border while drawing all three at home – starting with a 1-1 draw with Lens in the UEFA Cup first round on 14 September 1983.
Second in Ligue 1 last season, Lyon are back in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time since 2011/12 when they reached the round of 16.
Lyon had 12 consecutive seasons in the UEFA Champions League group stage between 2000 and 2012, and were semi-finalists in 2010.
Last season they failed to reach the group stage of the UEFA Europa League after losing a play-off tie against Romania's FC Astra Giurgiu on away goals (1-2 h, 1-0 a).
Gent are undefeated in eight games in 2015/16 and have only lost one of their last 16 in all competitions.
Hein Vanhaezebrouck, Gent coach: Lyon were the best team in France last season other than PSG, who are at a different level. They are a young team with a lot of quality. When you play at home you always have to try to get points whether it's Lyon, Zenit or Valencia. Don't underestimate the influence of the fans – our 12th man. We won't change our usual style too much; we will play our way. We hardly lost in 2015 and we haven't lost in the league this season, and that gives us strength and confidence. During pre-season we played Bordeaux and won, but we want to avoid the slow start that we had in that game. In France, football is physical too – and they are well-organised, not just skilful. In seven games we have conceded five goals while Lyon have only conceded two in five, which means that defensively they are very solid.
Hubert Fournier, Lyon coach: We have been talking about the Champions League for a long time – now it finally starts. Our goal is to be ambitious and to put in a good performance. And we can. In our last five games in France we have kept four clean sheets but we know that in attack we must improve. Gent are a brave team who impose their style not only at home but also away – they gave Anderlecht a good game [drawing 1-1 in Brussels last month] and could have won. It would be fantastic to start with three points but even a draw wouldn't be bad because this is a group stage featuring teams on a similar level; every team can compete with each other.
2014.01.14 12:32 SeychansfishieLove Lust Faith and Dreams
Lately I've caught up listening to my favorite band back when I was younger, 30 seconds to Mars. I do admit I've been talking about this band and Jared Leto a lot. Which I know has been upsetting him. I've been a fan of Jared Leto since he was Jordan on My So Called Life. When he came out with a Band it made me so happy. So some of you if you're fans of 30stm they came out with a new album called Love Lust Faith and Dreams. I went to a concert back in October 2013 and it was the most amazing concert I've ever been too. Well it was my "First" proper concert I've been too, I mean I've been to Warped Tour but the bands play their select few songs and move on. Anyway, I met Jared, Tomo and Shannon that day and I guess you can say I've been starstruck then. I thought I went wild when I had Jared's pictures when I was younger, I only had like 3 posters of him and a lot of the band when they became more popular. After their album "This is War" came out and the song "Kings and Queens" was playing on MTV every morning, it drove my mom nuts when I got the CD, still don't know what happened to that CD when I got it back then needless to say that was my favorite album. But anyway back to the concert, I was so amazed to meet them, my idols standing right before my eyes it was the greatest thing ever. Tomo Milicevic is the reason why I wanted to start playing guitar and of course him being from Detroit as well (my hometown) so meeting them all was really just a great experience. Being able to sing "Kings and Queens" was just amazing. Now I have their new album to jam out too as well. The reason I talk so much about Jared Leto is because he has acting talent that I admire, his singing voice and how he worked so hard for and his brother Shannon Leto who is a kick ass drummer. I feel like almost all the girls in the meet n greet line just wanted to be on Jared's dick. I watched a few people just completely ignore Tomo in the line when he would say "Hey thanks for coming to the show." and some people would not even acknowledge him. I'm not saying Jared Leto isn't a good looking man, but he has more than his looks to offer. I feel like I could sit down with them and talk to them about their talents one by one and their dreams for hours and just never leave.. I just want to go to a full out acoustic show by the band where there's just a few select people and just listen to Jared's voice and listen to Tomo and Jared play guitar together with Shannon on drums playing lightly. Unfortunately, those kind of concerts don't come to Detroit.. or at least I haven't seen a 30stm acoustic show happen. But I know all of the Echelon isn't like that and are completely happy with the band's success and Jared Leto's success. I'm so proud of them. They don't have any American shows tour dates listed for 2014 since they're going on a world tour. I really do hope they play here again.
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