Real Madrid vs APOEL Nicosia 13 September 2017: UCL Preview and Predictions

Manchester City keeper Ederson

Ederson wore head protection as he returned to training

Real Madrid has won the Champions League three times in the past four years, and is looking to become the first team since Bayern Munich (1974-76) to be European champion in three straight years.

The forward was dismissed near the end of Real's 3-1 Spanish Super Cup win at the Nou Camp on August 13 for diving when he appeared to have been fouled in the penalty area by Samuel Umtiti.

Manchester United are also back amongst Europe's elite, drawing FC Basel, Portuguese champs SL Benfica and Russian club CSK Moscow.

The Lilywhites limped out in the first round of last year's competition, and while it would be hard for them not to improve on that showing, they're yet to truly banish the Wembley hoodoo, while a testing group-stage draw doesn't help.

Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea should also be contenders, with their recent fine form answering numerous questions that abounded after their muddled summer recruitment.

However, they've started this season in rampant form and now have a very strong squad capable of competing on multiple fronts.

"It's a very important day for me, much more important than you can imagine". Liverpool can't win the group or secure advancement tomorrow, but they can take a big step toward both with a positive result.

City travel to Feyenoord for the Dutch champions' return to the Champions League for the first time since 2001, whilst Chelsea host Azerbaijani newcomers Qarabag.

Can Real Madrid make it a three-peat?

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City should have gone further in the competition past year but their defense was too inconsistent.

"[Danny] Welbeck being back is also a big plus, but their problems are the same problems, and that central defensive area will be their Achilles heel this season". Have they got the players to win it?

The suggestion of a legitimate challenge for the Champions League is a little naive, but what is the point of being a football fan if we do not allow ourselves the occasional flight of fancy. No victory would be sweeter for the former Barca man than one over Real Madrid.

Shakhtar Donetsk has made just one signing during the off-season, namely defender Davit Khocholava from Chornomorets. He'll want to increase his Champions League record of 106 goals in the competition.

Only three teams have won Europe's premier club competition three times in a row: Bayern Munich and Ajax in the 1970s and Madrid themselves in the 1950s, when they won five in a row.

APOEL Nicosia is the most successful team in Cyprus and they have been dominant in their domestic league once again this season.

PSG hope Neymar can push the team at least to its first semifinals since 1995.

Still, Real enter the tournament as favorites, and with good reason. "He'll want to win that, and he usually does in his second season".

Ronaldo was among the Real stars present in training on Tuesday, as Zinedine Zidane put his men through their paces at their base.

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