Messi and Haaland chasing more goals at the start of the group stage: Champions League in numbers Opta

Messi and Haaland chasing more goals at the start of the group stage: Champions League in numbers Opta

Messi and Haaland chasing more goals at the start of the group stage: Champions League in numbers Opta

The biggest club competition in European football is back and some of the brightest names and players will be on display on Tuesday in the first night of Champions League action this season.

The Real Madrid holders must take a trip to Scotland as they take on Celtic in what is sure to be a noisy Parkhead, while tournament favorites Manchester City head to Sevilla.

Thomas Tuchel hopes to bring Chelsea back to the winners’ pad as he did in 2021, starting with an away match at Dinamo Zagreb as two European heavyweights clash in France as Paris Saint-Germain entertain Juventus.

Read on to find out more as Stats Perform examines key facts from Opta ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League action.

Dinamo Zagreb-Chelsea

This will be the first ever European match between Dinamo Zagreb and Chelsea. Zagreb, in fact, will be Chelsea’s first Croatian opponent in a competitive match.

Tuchel’s men will be the ninth English team to face Zagreb in European competition. The Croatian club have won two of their last three matches against English teams (1P), as many have won the first 16 of these games before (W2 D3 L11).

Chelsea have lost just one of their last 11 Champions League away games (W8 D2), a 1-0 defeat at Juventus last season. Indeed, that defeat in Turin is the only one of the last 17 group stage matches at home and out of the competition (W11 D5).

Seville-Manchester City

This will be the second season in which Sevilla and City will meet in a major European competition. The only previous case saw City win at home and away in the group stage of the 2015-16 Champions League.

Julen Lopetegui’s men have qualified for the Champions League for the third consecutive season. They are unbeaten on Matchday 1 in each of their last six appearances in the competition (W2 D4), although all four previous firsts have been drawn, including twice against English sides (2-2 v Liverpool in 2017-18, 0- 0 vs Chelsea in 2020-21).

City forward Erling Haaland has scored 23 goals in 19 Champions League appearances, the best goal-to-match ratio of any player in the competition’s history with a minimum of 10 appearances (1.2). The Norwegian has scored eight goals in six games with Salzburg and 15 in 13 with Borussia Dortmund, with four goals scored in two games against Sevilla in 2020-21.

Erling Haaland

Erling Haaland

Celtic-Real Madrid

The only time Celtic and Real Madrid met in this competition was the quarter-final of the 1979-80 European Cup. Real Madrid won 3-2 on aggregate after winning the second leg 3-0.

Celtic may have their work interrupted, as the reigning Champions League champions have only been eliminated from the first group stage in one of the last 28 seasons, with Chelsea retiring in 2012-13.

And only one of the last 27 defending champions has lost the first match of the competition the following season (W16 D10), with Liverpool beaten 2-0 at Napoli in 2019-20.

Celtic boss Ange Postecoglou will become the first Australian ever to manage the Champions League. Overall, he is the fifth person to lead Celtic in the tournament, after Martin O’Neill, Gordon Strachan, Neil Lennon and Brendan Rodgers.

Paris Saint Germain-Juventus

PSG have lost just one of their last 30 home games of the Champions League group stage (W24 D5), a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United in October 2020.

Juve have won 15 of their last 17 Champions League group stage games, losing the other two, at home to Barcelona in October 2020 (2-0) and away to Chelsea in November 2021 (4-0) .

PSG’s Lionel Messi has scored 72 goals in 69 games as a starter in Champions League group matches. His 76 overall group stage goals are an all-time record in the competition, with the Argentinian scoring five goals in five group games for his current club last season, with every goal coming to the Parc des Princes .

Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi

Other appliances:

Borussia Dortmund-Copenhagen

12 – Dortmund have lost just one of their last 12 home games of the Champions League group stage (W8 D3), 3-1 to Ajax in last season’s competition.

14 – Copenhagen have lost just one of their last 14 away games in all European competitions (including qualifiers – W8 D5). The Danish team won the last Champions League away match 2-0 at Club Brugge in December 2016.

RB Leipzig – Shakhtar Donetsk

12 – Last season, Christopher Nkunku (12 goals) overtook Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg (both 11) to become RB Leipzig’s top scorer in major European competitions (excluding qualifiers). The French striker scored seven goals in six matches in the last Champions League, having only scored once in 18 appearances in the competition.

17 – This will be Shakhtar Donetsk’s 17th season in the Champions League, one step away from Ukraine’s record, which is Dynamo Kyiv’s 18th. Shakhtar have qualified for each of the last six editions of the tournament, their best series (also six from 2010-11 to 2015-16).

Salzburg-Milan

3 – Salzburg remained unbeaten at home in the last Champions League (4 W3 D1 L0), winning all three home games of the group stage. Only Man City (six) and Bayern Munich (five) have played more home games last season without losing than Salzburg.

11 – Of Milan striker Olivier Giroud’s last 12 Champions League goals, 11 have been scored away from home. In fact, of all players who have scored more than 10 goals in the competition, Giroud has the highest percentage of away scoring (78% – 14 out of 18).

Benfica-Maccabi Haifa

5 – Benfica have won five of their last seven Champions League group stage home games (2 defeats), as many as the previous 16 of those games before (W5 D4 S7).

0 – No Israeli team has ever progressed from a Champions League group stage, with the country’s clubs having won only four of the previous 30 matches in the actual competition (D4 L22). Half of those victories, however, were for Maccabi Haifa in the 2002-2003 season.

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