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10/22/18 - Nostradamus

Champions League matchday three: what to get excited about!

The halfway point in the group stage is approaching – what are likely to be the big stories of matchday three?

Three things to look out for this week

1) Regular UEFA Champions League adversaries in the 1990s, Manchester United and Juventus resume their rivalry on Tuesday. Paul Pogba faces his old side for the first time since joining United two years ago, with the Italian champions arriving at Old Trafford – where they lost the 2003 UEFA Champions League final – fresh from ten straight wins in all competitions prior to the international break.

2) Paris coach from 2011–13, Carlo Ancelotti is returning to face his old side with Napoli. Now coached by Thomas Tuchel, Paris feature former Napoli frontman Edinson Cavani among their fearsome battery of goalscorers. After beating Liverpool last time out, Napoli top Group C with four points; another win for the Partenopei could be a significant step towards qualifying from one of the group stage's toughest sections.

3) Liverpool may have been Manchester City's Achilles heel last season, but their trip to face Shakhtar throws up another hoodoo. The Pitmen won their last meeting 2-1 in the 2016/17 group stage and that was City's second loss in three visits to Ukraine. Shakhtar's home record against English sides will also worry Josep Guardiola – they are unbeaten in all seven games, winning five.

What's new for 2018/19?

This is the first season of staggered kick-off times during the UEFA Champions League group stage, with at least two games per night getting under way at 18:55CET. That's not to mention a fancy new brand identity, based on a concept called 'Highlighting moments that make the ultimate stage'.

What's not new?

Thirty-two teams vying to lift the most prestigious trophy in European club football. The top two in all eight groups progress to the knockout stage, with two-legged round of 16, quarter-final and semi-final ties whittling it down to just two finalists. Talking of which ...

When and where's the final?

Saturday 1 June at 21:00CET, at Atlético's home – the Estadio Metropolitano in Madrid. Stick it in your diary.