Juventus will face Lionel Messi’s Barcelona without Cristiano Ronaldo on Wednesday after it was confirmed the Portugal captain returned another positive coronavirus result ahead of kick-off.
It was hoped the world would see another rendition of modern soccer’s greatest rivalry in UEFA Champions League Group G, but Goal’s Romeo Agresti reported Ronaldo has not recovered in time.
Both European giants won their opening pool games but will have to put recent domestic disappointments to the side as they seek an early edge in Group G. The Bianconeri have failed to win either of their last two games in Serie A, while Barcelona have suffered back-to-back defeats in La Liga, most recently losing 3-1 at home to Real Madrid in El Clasico:
Premier League heavyweights Manchester United and Chelsea also return to the European fray in midweek. A three-point lead atop Group H is United’s for the taking if they can beat RB Leipzig at Old Trafford (and vice-versa). In Group E, Chelsea travels to Krasnodar, the only pool that produced two draws in the opening round of games.
Borussia Dortmund limped to a 3-1 loss at Lazio in their Group F debut, but a Matchday 4 meeting at home to Zenit St. Petersburg could fast-track them back into contention. Club Brugge sealed an injury-time win in Russia last week and host Lazio seeking an outright lead among the quartet, with the Eagles targeting back-to-back Champions League wins for the first time since September 2003.
Visit UEFA.com to view updated group standings.
UCL Matchday 4 Schedule (All Times ET)
Wednesday, October 28
Krasnodar vs. Chelsea, 1:55 p.m. - Galavision
Basaksehir vs. Paris Saint-Germain, 1:55 p.m. - TUDN
Sevilla vs. Rennes, 4 p.m. - TUDNxtra1
Club Brugge vs. Lazio, 4 p.m. - TUDNxtra3
Borussia Dortmund vs. Zenit St. Petersburg, 4 p.m. - TUDNxtra2
Ferencvaros vs. Dynamo Kiev, 4 p.m. - TUDNxtra4
Juventus vs. Barcelona, 4 p.m. - TUDN
Manchester United vs. RB Leipzig, 4 p.m. - Galavision
UCL Matchday 4 Tune-In Information
TV: Galavision, TUDN
Live Stream: fuboTV (watch for free)
Sightings of Ronaldo and Messi on the same pitch have become rare since the former moved to Italy in 2018; all the more reason to keep a close eye on Group G after the ageing duo were drawn against one another this season.
Supporters will have to wait until December 8 for the two to collide again in what’s likely to be a pivotal Camp Nou clash.
It’s a good thing the two teams offer much more than just their headline names, though ropey domestic form has left each with a lot to be desired of late. Both clubs installed former players in the manager’s seats this summer, but Andrea Pirlo’s unbeaten record at Juve suggests his return has gone much more to plan than Ronald Koeman at the Camp Nou.
Barcelona protested against some decisions made by the video assistant in Saturday’s 3-1 defeat to rivals Real, which has left them 12th in La Liga. Soccer reporter Colin Millar hinted at the board ultimately being the main cause of Barca’s grief, but Koeman can’t escape his own shortcomings after winning just three of his first six games in charge:
Victory at the Allianz will be considered compulsory for Juventus if they’re to give themselves the best chance of topping Group G, with Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros in a duel for third almost by default.
The same can’t be said of Group H, where leaders Leipzig and United are separated only by goal difference and have Paris Saint-Germain in hot pursuit.
The Red Devils will face Leipzig for the first time on Wednesday, when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters he’ll have close to a fully fit squad, except for Eric Bailly and Jesse Lingard. Anthony Martial is still serving a domestic ban but will be available to play in Europe, and Edinson Cavani could make his Champions League debut against United’s first German opponent since Wolfsburg in the 2015-16 group stage:
Julian Nagelsmann conquered Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur en route to reaching last season’s Champions League semi-finals, and victory at the Theatre of Dreams would provide a big boost to their hopes of replicating that feat in 2021.
Bundesliga peers Dortmund stumbled at the Stadio Olimpico in their Group F opener, and Zenit visit on Wednesday boasting a 100-percent record at Signal Iduna Park (albeit from a solitary trip to the ground in March 2014).
Lucien Favre is under pressure to produce a win in their first home match of the Champions League campaign, the odds of which look a lot better after dominating Schalke 3-0 in the first Revierderby of the season, via Goal:
Sevilla and Rennes join the list of opponents poised to face off for the first time, with that clash of particular importance in a Group E lineup that has no outright leader after one round of fixtures.
Frank Lampard’s Chelsea can only hope the two cancel each other out to give his Blues their best chance of jumping to the summit as they too prepare for a maiden meeting with Krasnodar.