UCL Matchday 4 Wednesday: Game-by-game preview
There is no let-up in the 2022/23 Uefa Champions League group stage schedule; get abreast of the second batch of fixtures coming up on Matchday 4.
Napoli v Ajax (16:45 GMT)
The 6-1 victory in Amsterdam was Napoli’s biggest ever European away win (and matched their biggest Uefa margin of victory, home or away). “Divine” was the one-word headline in local paper Il Mattino the following morning, but Napoli will expect a response in Italy, their Georgian sensation Khvicha Kvaratskhelia saying, “[Ajax] are a good team and have very good players. They need to keep going.” Ajax, meanwhile, hope to prove NOS.nl wrong, the website having written: “This Ajax team are out of place in the Champions League.”
Did you know? Mohammed Kudus has scored in all three of Ajax’s UEFA Champions League games this season. A goal here would see him become just the second Ajax player to score in four consecutive games in the competition, after Sébastien Haller last season (7).
Atlético v Club Brugge (16:45)
The win in Amsterdam took Napoli’s tally to 11 games unbeaten in all competitions since the start of the season (W9 D2).
Most assumed that Club Brugge’s dream start in Group B would end against Atlético last time out, but Carl Hoefkens’ side produced another outstanding performance, local paper Het Laatste Nieuws writing: “Club Brugge are the best ambassadors Belgian football could hope for.” Atlético hit the bar in the 2-0 loss and are bottom of the section as the return game looms into view, but Diego Simeone is not one to concede defeat, saying: “We’re not throwing in the towel. There are three matches left for us to put things right.”
Did you know? Club Brugge have yet to win in four games in Madrid (three defeats against Atlético and a draw against Real Madrid) despite scoring seven goals in those previous visits to the Spanish capital.
Rangers v Liverpool (19:00)
Keeper Allan McGregor stole some of the limelight at Anfield, keeping the Matchday 3 score line respectable as Jürgen Klopp’s side aimed to cut loose and leave early-season woes behind them. Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst said, “After our first three [group stage] games, our development has been positive,” but they have yet to score or pick up a point in Group A. Liverpool midfielder Jordan Henderson knows the Light Blues are not a spent force: “We have another tough test coming up… at Ibrox. That will be a really difficult game for us.”
Did you know? Liverpool have played away against Scottish sides six times (W2 D2 L2) but have only once scored more than a single goal in those games, in a 2-2 draw at Celtic in the 1997/98 Uefa Cup.
Leverkusen v Porto (19:00)
New coach Xabi Alonso will hope to tap in to predecessor Gerardo Seoane’s positive spin on Leverkusen’s 2-0 loss in Porto on Matchday 3, where he cited “a very good all-round performance” and concluded: “We are only disappointed with the result.” Patrik Schick had a penalty saved in Portugal, but Leverkusen will be confident that they can get a better result in the return encounter, though defender Wendell feels equally optimistic for his Porto side: “If we maintain the same spirit, the same hunger for the fight, we will hardly lose against any team.”
Did you know? Leverkusen won 2-1 in their only previous home game against Porto, the first leg of their 5-2 aggregate win against the Dragons in the 2019/20 Europa League round of 32.
Barcelona v Inter (19:00)
With just three points after three matchdays, Barcelona are not in a happy place, coach Xavi Hernández conceding: “We should have put in a better performance [in the 1-0 loss at Inter]. This defeat leaves us in a very difficult position.” Simone Inzaghi’s Inter put some shaky performances behind them to win, even without Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku. However, they can expect a tougher game at the Camp Nou, Xavi adding: “In the Champions League, we have three finals left – and that’s how we’ll treat them.”
Did you know? Barcelona have won all five of their Uefa competition home games against Inter, but the Nerazzurri did win 2-1 at the Camp Nou in a 1970 game in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (the non-Uefa affiliated predecessor of the Uefa Cup and Europa League).
Plzen v Bayern (19:00)
“Bayern showed their quality, which was out of our reach,” shrugged Plzen boss Michal Bílek after his side’s 5-0 loss in Munich on Matchday 3, and if the Czech champions will have limited expectations for the return fixture, the coach at least wants to see them give a better account of themselves: “We mustn’t give them even a little space; we must try to recover balls we lose in the attacking half and return back to the block at speed.” Six points clear of third-placed Barcelona, Bayern would take a big step towards the last 16 with another positive result.
Did you know? Bayern have visited Plzen twice before, and won 1-0 on both occasions: in the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1971/72 and in the Champions League group stage in 2013/14.
Tottenham v Frankfurt (19:00)
A 0-0 draw in Germany was about fair last time out, with many of the plaudits going to Frankfurt defender Makoto Hasebe, the 38-year-old having helped to shackle Harry Kane. He may find that harder to do at White Hart Lane, but Spurs will be mindful of the Europa League holders’ strengths. “They are tough to play against, very good on the counter,” defender Clément Lenglet told Uefa.com. Eintracht boss Oliver Glasner, meanwhile, may have some new plans for the return leg: “There are a few things I noticed which I told our analyst about.”
Did you know? Frankfurt have lost only one of their last nine Uefa club competition matches against English clubs (W4 D4).
Sporting CP v Marseille (19:00)
Having taken a first-minute lead in the teams’ Matchday 3 meeting in France, Sporting’s evening soon unravelled, with Alexis Sánchez’s enterprising equaliser inspiring Marseille to a 4-1 win (helped by the dismissal of visiting goalkeeper Antonio Adán). “We will turn it around,” said coach Rúben Amorim, whose side still top Group D with six points. As for OM, they now have their first points on the board, and midfielder Amine Harit is feeling upbeat. “We anticipate a very difficult game in Lisbon,” he said. “We hope to continue where we left off.”
Did you know? Sporting had not conceded a goal in their three Champions League matches before Alexis’s freak equaliser. OM, meanwhile, have not kept a clean sheet in 18 Champions League matches.