Three-times European champions Manchester United kick-start their Champions League Group A campaign at home against Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday night.
With Danny Welbeck doubtful due to a knee injury Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie will spearhead United’s attack.
It’s United’s 18th consecutive participation but it’s new coach David Moyes’s first and despite being favourites to progress he’s taking nothing for granted as he makes his bow in the group stage of Europe’s top club competition.
He said: “It is a little bit more unpredictable that it has been in the past. So, I think it is a tough group, we have a leading team from Germany, a leading team from Spain, we have to go to Donetsk to play Shakthar who are experienced in the Champions League, so I see it as a pretty tough looking group.”
Real Madrid travel to the hostile atmosphere of the Türk Telekom Arena to face Galatasaray – a repeat of last season’s quarter-final which Real won on aggregate – although they lost the second leg 3-2.
After his goal-scoring debut at the weekend Gareth Bale is expected to feature as is fellow summer recruit Isco, who believes his side can extend their record amount of titles in Europe.
He said: “I have a dream: to win the 10th Champions league. We have a good team and self confidence. We have everything we need to win but we need to work a lot to achieve our dream. We will try.
Benfica and Anderlecht meet for the first time in nine seasons as they get proceedings in Group C under way.
Benfica will have added motivation this season as the final will be at their own Estadio da Luz stadium.
Coach Jorge Jesus is expecting a tough opener at home against the Belgian champions.
“We are ready to have a difficult match but the team has also been preparing over the last few days and months to play a good game, like we did in the last match against Pacos de Ferreira.”
Midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has recovered from an ankle injury in time as Bayern Munich begin their title defense in Group D hosting CSKA Moscow.
The Bavarians took last season’s tournament by storm as part of a treble winning campaign are unbeaten in the bundesliga this term.
With new coach Pep Guardiola at the helm the pressure is on to perform against the Russian champions who are also in fine fettle and unbeaten after eight league games.
Also playing on Tuesday night:
Group A – Real Sociedad v Donetsk Shakhtar Donetsk
Group B – FC Copenhagen v Juventus
Group C – Olympiacos v Paris Saint-Germain
Group D – Viktoria Plzeň v Manchester City